Students' Strategies for Planning and Reflecting on the Process of Carrying out the International Baccalaureate Personal Project

Students' Strategies for Planning and Reflecting on the Process of Carrying out the International Baccalaureate Personal Project

Penny Van Deur (Flinders University, Australia)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-7495-0.ch005
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Students in International Baccalaureate (IB) schools running the Middle Years Programme have been involved in completing the IB Personal Project for a number of years. This chapter describes how the IB approach to research influences students' learning in terms of how they plan and reflect on carrying out a research project, and could provide a framework for students completing research projects in schools that do not run the IB programme. The IB Personal Project has students planning a project, collecting resources to carry it out, presenting the completed project, and reflecting on the research process. This chapter discusses an investigation in which 24 students were interviewed about how they planned and reflected on their work on the IB Personal Project before carrying it out and after they had completed the project. Three case studies illustrate “less productive,” “productive,” and “very productive” sequences of students' planning and reflecting strategies.
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Planning and reflecting on a research project is part of a constructivist approach to learning in which students need to be self-regulated. Hattie (2009) argued that such a constructivist approach to learning requires students to become their own teachers and described processes that are important aspects of any research project as ‘visible learning’. He proposed that visible learning happens when students are active in the learning process so that they seek out optimal ways to learn new material and ideas, seek resources to help them in their learning, and set themselves appropriate and challenging goals. Students completing any research investigation need to know about and carry out these self-regulated learning processes effectively. However, Lawson and Askell-Williams (2011) reported on investigations of how well-prepared high school and tertiary students were to direct their own learning and found that many were not able to do this well. They proposed that teachers need to find out about the level of knowledge students have about learning itself, and that teachers need to teach students how to understand a task, set goals, carry out plans and reflect on the activity carried out (Lawson & Askell-Williams, 2011, 253). They argued that students need to be taught about the competencies of self-regulated learning that comprise motivational, cognitive, and metacognitive processes. In this way students would be deepening their knowledge of learning and learning about how to learn.

Self-regulated learning has been described as self-generated thoughts, feelings and actions that are systematically oriented toward attaining one’s own goals (Rozendaal, Minnaert, & Boekaerts, 2005; Zimmerman, 2000). Schunk and Zimmerman (1998) had earlier stressed that in order to learn, the self-regulated learner needs to co-ordinate self-processes. Schunk and Zimmerman organised these self-processes into the phases of forethought (the processes involved in goal setting, developing self-efficacy, learning goals, and intrinsic interest); performance (including attention focusing, self-instruction, and self-monitoring); and self-reflection (including self-evaluation, assigning attributions for the way the student did or did not work well, self-reactions, and adaptation to problems). This discussion of self-regulated learning as a largely internal process suggests that if teachers engaged students in broad discussions of strategies for planning and reflecting they could have limited effectiveness because students may not be aware of their own knowledge of self-regulated learning.

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