Final Project Notes

Congratulations: Our conferences this week have been productive and rewarding as your projects take shape. Most of the projects using Word Press, Tumblr, Wix, or another platform, are enabling you to gather your primary materials. Most of you have then worked to describe the materials as a body of work–describing the objects and artifacts, making connections and telling a story that expands and deepen our understanding of the natural and /or cultural history of California.

Your research into the natural and cultural history of California—and your answers to the question, “What is California?”—is significant. During the second half of your semester together we have shared the responsibility for directing our learning as we continue to study natural and cultural history of the Golden State. Your work is compelling evidence of the generative intellectual work that is possible in a first-year college course.

Below I offer a few reminders and the criteria I handed out in class a couple of weeks ago. In addition to your conference with me, please be in touch by email with updates and with questions. I am also able to meet with anyone next Tuesday or Wednesday.


Moving Towards Completion: After we wrapped our symposium sessions on Tuesday I encouraged you to attend to the following elements of your project during the week you have before the final version of the project is due:

  • Title and Subtitle: when a user navigates to your site the title and subtitle should offer an orientation to the subjext and the orientation of your project
  • Project Statement: the project statement will elaborate, albiet briefly, what is implied in the title
  • Design: the design of the site should provide access to the content. In conferences we have discussed the use of hashtags on Tumblr and pages and categories on Word Press. We have also explored the relationship between images and text and the use of themes
  • Analysis and Interpretation: It is imperative that your project have a narrative of some kind. There is no length requirement here. But without the analysis and the interpretation the project will have less significance and impact.

Checklist: I include the assessment criteria that I handed out a few weeks ago. This is the list that I will use to help determine your final grade.

  1. Symposium Contributions
  • Preparation and teamwork: Is the group work during the symposium workshops efficient and effective?
  • Progress and Meeting deadline: Is a revised title and project abstract sent to Mark by Thursday April 14 at noon?
  • Session contribution: Does the session provide the class with relevant and engaging materials that help explain California? Does the group effectively present the materials to the class (e.g. a series of written points or questions to help with discussion, visual materials using tools such as a powerpoint, prezi, or blog?) Do group members take responsibility for maintaining the flow and quality of the discussion whenever needed?
  1. First Version of Project
  • Meeting deadline: Is the first version of the project submitted by Thursday April 21?
  • Project development: the challenge of creatively and critically assessing a collection of primary materials takes place over time. It is also a challenge to use secondary materials to first describe and then to interpret the materials gathered. Does the first version of the project demonstrate progress commensurate with one month of work?
  1. Individual Conferences
  • Preparation and Reflection: Is there evidence of sufficient work prior to the conferences so that the conversation is driven by questions and problems and challenges?
  • Engagement and Purpose: Is the conference used to answer specific questions about the project, to explore complications, to address problems?
  1. Final Project
  • Offers a clear and distinct organization of the primary materials
  • Uses secondary materials to introduce or tell the story the materials suggest
  • Presents the materials in an organized manner, whether in a print essay or using a digital platform such as Word Press or Tumblr
  • Offers a thoughtful and evidence-based description of the materials
  • Makes clear what the project is doing to expand and deepen our understanding of the natural and /or cultural history of California