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The Group Project

The purpose of the group project is to allow you to work in small groups to organise, prepare and present to your seminar group the results of your investigation into an historical question. The groups will be formed at random by Week 5 of Term 1, and the presentations need to be made according to the groups’ and tutors’ preferences during Term 2 or the first weeks of Term 3. Each group will have to perform their presentation during the seminar meeting in the week whose topic conforms most closely to the topic of your presentation! This means that only topics of relevance to the issues discussed in MMW in Terms 2 and 3 may become the subject of the respective presentations, but this leaves you with a wide range of possible subjects!

You have about six to eighteen weeks to prepare your project work, depending on which topic you choose. The group must keep a log (to be handed in when the project is complete) which will act as an attendance register and provide a brief description of activities undertaken, e.g. allocation of reading, preliminary findings, comment on each other’s contributions, dress rehearsal.

Groups might if they so wish make their presentation available by means of a web posting (e.g. of a PowerPoint presentation, or a Sitebuilder page).

Part-Time Students and the Group Project

Part-time students may, depending on circumstances, undertake the group project. The organisation of the group project for part-time students will follow the same guidelines as those for full-time students.

If circumstances are not amenable to part-time students undertaking the group project then an essay of 3,000 words will be completed instead by individual students.

Penalties

For non-cooperation, including absenteeism from preparatory meetings, failing to turn up to the presentation, etc. students will be asked to submit a long essay (3,000 words) in lieu.

Guidance

The following are the elements that should inform the project work:

1 Information-gathering

  • Creating bibliographies
  • Searching for information in libraries
  • Assimilating information from books, articles and other sources

2 Critical and Analytic Skills

  • Use of sources: identifying bias and scope of sources
  • Awareness of different kinds of historical writing, and different kinds of historical question
  • Awareness of historiography

3 Oral Communication skills

  • Making a presentation to the larger group on the project
  • Handling questions on the project
  • Discussing ideas with peers and tutors

4 Working with others

  • Allocating and sharing responsibilities within the group
  • Making presentations to a wider group
  • Evaluating and constructively criticising group work

5 Time management

  • Managing and organising group and individual time within the project

6 Intellectual Skills

  • Evaluating conflicting information
  • Arguing logically
  • Challenging assumptions

Presentations

By week five you will be assigned a group to work in and a project title. You will be working as a team. This means that as a group you need to plan a series of meetings with one another and organise amongst yourselves: the choice of topic, who will do what parts of the research, who will present which bits of the material. You will need to decide what sources you are going to use, whether your project lends itself to the use of illustrations, statistics, music, etc., you will need to divide up your time as individuals and as a group and work out a timetable which will allow you to meet to discuss progress, organise material and address any problems or issues that arise.

It is expected that all members of the group will pull their weight.

Planning your research

Once you have selected your topic the group will need to think about the following:

  • Which sources are you going to use?
  • Can you divide the topic into a series of sub-questions that you can answer and assign to members of the group?
  • How will these questions help you to answer the question posed in the project title?
  • How will you allocate tasks within the group?
  • How will you divide up the time between getting the project title and making the presentation?
  • Will you need any training in order to complete your project?

 Keeping a log

Each group must keep a written record of its work. This log, when completed, should:

  • briefly record the work undertaken by each member (one short paragraph per member)
  • record the duration, attendance at, and frequency of group meetings
  • include comments on how the group interacted – were there any problems and how were they overcome?

This log should be no longer than 2 x A4 sheets of typescript (font size 12, with 1 ½ spacing). This log will be handed in on the day the presentation is made. Please see the template here (Word Document).

Presentations

  • What is the purpose of your presentation?
  • Each speaker has no more than 5 minutes in which to present, therefore you need to decide on the order of speakers.
  • Is there going to be an audio-visual element in the presentation? If so, you need to make sure that you have the equipment you need.

Preparing and Giving your Presentation

  • Focus on getting across a few clear points: think about using visual aids, such as a handout/OHP, powerpoint to assist in making your points clear
  • Think about using examples or illustrations to make your presentation interesting
  • Think about who in the group is going to use audio-visual sources
  • Make sure you have a clear plan about what each group member will talk about and when they will talk.
  • Make sure everyone is prepared.
  • Practice and rehearse your presentation before it is made in class.
  • Rehearse out loud in front of your own group. Get all the members of your group to give a constructive assessment of an individual performance.
  • Try to encourage discussion with, and questions from the audience at the end of the presentation. Be prepared to answer questions from the audience.
  • Acknowledge your audience by maintaining eye contact, looking at them helps to involve them in your presentation.
  • Avoid reading from a script, and try instead to speak directly to your audience in your own words, based on all the reading and planning you have done to prepare.
  • Remember to pause and not to speak too quickly.

Assessment

  • Assessment for the group project will make up 10 CATS points. It will be made up of the seminar tutor’s assessment of the presentation and the log report, and the peer mark. The tutor will provide you with written and/or oral feedback on the quality of your presentation. The presentation will be judged on, amongst others:
  • Intellectual clarity and cohesion; range of materials used and their interpretation
  • verbal clarity (for instance, clear introduction, general presentation skills such as pace, volume, body language)
  • use of illustrative material/audio-visual aids.
  • Overall, the intellectual content of the presentation, the presentation itself, timing, teamwork and discussion will all be assessed.
  • Concretely, the tutor's assessment will be based on individual marks for: clarity of argument presented; the comparative element present within the presentation; intellectual coherence; quality of analysis; use of appropriate range of sources; selection of information; clarity of oral presentation; effective use of aids; ability to answer questions; and, last but not least, time keeping.

Immediately after the presentation each member of the group making the presentation will be asked to give a mark to each member of the group according to your assessment of each other one’s relative contribution to the work which resulted in the final project presentation. This will be confidential and be seen only by the tutor. Your seminar tutor will hand each of you a mark sheet to help you with this marking once the group is operating. Note that you must provide written justification for the mark you are giving each member of your group! You must award a mark to everyone on the list without exception. The marksheet template is here.