The Independent Study Program provides a highly motivated student with the opportunity to investigate a specific area of interest not offered in the Upper School curriculum or to explore a topic that represents an in-depth extension of courses already completed.
It is expected that a student who undertakes independent study will complete a project that includes an analytical paper focusing on his/her area of interest. The final product of the study may also include less traditional elements, such as a portfolio of creative writing or original art, a slide or video presentation, a music recital, or a lecture.
Independent study differs from a tutorial, in which a faculty member would meet several times per cycle to teach a course to an individual student. Instead of the teacher presenting a curriculum, the student develops a program of research to be pursued on his/her own with support and direction from a mentor.
Independent Study is graded on a Pass-Fail basis.
An independent study project must be based upon a written proposal and be sponsored by a faculty member. A student wishing to undertake a project should do the following:
- Discuss the project with a faculty member and request that he/she serve as project mentor.
- Prepare, in consultation with the mentor, a written proposal that conforms to the guidelines set out below.
- Submit copies of the written proposal for approval to the Director of Studies, by May 15 for semester I and by December 15 for semester II.
Responsibilities of the Project Mentor
- The mentor should assist the student in the preparation of the independent study proposal.
- After the proposal is approved, the mentor should maintain a regular schedule of meetings with the student to monitor progress on the project.
- As the project proceeds, it is the responsibility of the mentor to provide updates to the Director of Studies, to the student’s advisor and, when necessary, to parents.
Required Features of the Independent Study Project Proposal
- The project title
- The duration of the project (one semester or full year)
- The signatures of both student and mentor
- A general description and rationale of the project
- A list of research materials, e.g. books, articles, films, interviews, to be used
- A proposed schedule of meetings with the mentor
- A list of the expected products, e.g. analytical papers, journals, creative writing, artwork, music recitals
- A list of interim deadlines for completion of major components of the project, e.g. reading sources, writing drafts or outlines of work in progress