Sample Research Project Guidelines and Grading Criteria
The following pages are one example of how a teacher structures the ASHSSS research project for students who are completing the project as part of a high school class (for credit). These particular guidelines were developed by Janet Ricker (of West Valley High School, Fairbanks, Alaska), with many contributions and suggestions from other teachers, including Dr. Gary Laursen, Cyndie Beale, Wendy Ehnert, and Rebecca Gilbert.
Some students complete the project as a required part of their grade for a class (such as an AP science class). Others may earn extra credit for a class by completing a project. At West Valley High School (in Fairbanks), students have an opportunity to earn a high school science elective credit by completing the project for a class called Science Seminar, which is typically done as an independent study class.
In addition to the research project guidelines and grading documents that are provided, the following words of advice may also be helpful, particularly to teachers who are advising students working on a project:
- Encourage students to start early. Everything takes longer than you think! Often, student progress is slower than that suggested by the schedule of due dates given in the example assignment schedule. However, it helps to start with these dates as the target, so there is time to make adjustments in the event of a crisis or delay. One possible simple adjustment is to have the student skip the Smooth Draft of the paper (but still complete the previous drafts of parts of the paper, with later due dates). Another option is to have the student skip the drafts of parts of the paper, and do the Smooth Draft of the entire paper as their first draft.
- Encourage students to work with a mentor. This way, they can get expert advice and guidance and possibly gain access to materials and equipment that are not available at your school. This will also decrease the time you will need to spend on ASHSSS-related tasks. Structuring the project and providing feedback and grades to the student will already take a fair bit of your time.
- Make sure students have all of the proper project approval forms completed, with proper signatures, before any experimental work begins. Make sure their project meets all of the relevant guidelines required for project approval.
- Check each student’s packet of registration materials before it is submitted to the ASHSSS Director. Make sure all the items required for registration are included, that all forms are complete, and that the formal abstract and scientific paper are properly formatted. It can be helpful to make the due date for registration materials to you a day or two before they are due to the Director, so that problems can be corrected before registration packets are submitted.