What is the Personal Project?
"The Personal Project provides an excellent opportunity for students to produce a truly personal and often creative product/outcome and to demonstrate a consolidation of their learning in the MYP."
(Projects Guide, May 2014)
The IB MYP (Middle Years Program) Personal Project brings together the skills, knowledge and understanding gained as students engage with a challenging eight-month long project based on personal interests and growth. The students must inquire, research, plan, take action, communicate, reflect, improve and ultimately aim to create a product or an outcome for an intended audience. Along the way, students keep a process journal, create their product/outcome, and write a reflective report about the process.
The Personal Project is culminating examples of inquiry because they reflect students’ ability to initiate, manage and direct their own inquiry by investigating, researching and taking actions on the topic of their interests.
The inquiry process in MYP projects involves students in a wide range of activities to extend their knowledge and understanding and to develop their skills and attitudes. These student-planned learning activities include:
deciding what they want to learn about, identifying what they already know, and discovering what they will need to know to complete the project
creating proposals or criteria for their project, planning their time and materials, and recording developments of the project
making decisions, developing understandings and solving problems, communicating with their supervisor and others, and creating a product or developing an outcome
evaluating the product/outcome and reflecting on their project and their learning.
As students become involved in the self-initiated and self-directed learning process, they will find it easier to construct in-depth knowledge on their topic as well as to develop an understanding of themselves as learners.
Both action (learning by doing and experiencing) and global engagement are central to IB philosophy and practice. Encouraging principled action is a key feature of the MYP and, when closely affiliated with sustained inquiry and critical reflection, it can result in students developing these attributes of the IB learner profile.
Principled action, as both a strategy and an outcome, represents the IB’s commitment to teaching and learning through practical, real-world experience. IB learners act at home, as well as in classrooms, schools, communities and the broader world. Action involves learning by doing, which enhances learning about self and others. IB World Schools value action that encompasses a concern for integrity and honesty, as well as a strong sense of fairness that respects the dignity of individuals and groups. Principled action means making responsible choices, sometimes including decisions not to act. Individuals, organizations and communities can engage in principled action when they explore the ethical dimensions of personal and global challenges. Action in IB programmes may involve service learning, advocacy and educating self and others.
What is an IB education? (2013)
The guiding process with five stages of service learning, developed by Cathryn Berger Kaye in The Complete Guide to Service Learning (2010), is the foundation for MYP project objectives and assessment criteria. The following stages, illustrated in figure 4, provide a useful framework to develop the attributes of the learner profile. The fifth and final stage is “demonstration”, which in MYP projects is the presentation or report.
Investigation involves taking an inventory of student interests, skills and talents to be used in considering opportunities. This analysis requires gathering information about the identified need through action research that includes use of varied approaches: media, interviews of experts, survey of varied populations, and direct observation/personal experiences
Preparation involves the student planning the service experience with clarification of roles, responsibilities, actions to be taken, resources required and timelines, while acquiring any skills needed to successfully carry the plan to completion.
Action involves implementing the plan. Students may work individually, with student partners, in student groups or with others.
Reflection involves students describing what happened, expressing feelings, generating ideas and asking questions. Reflection occurs intermittently and in summation to gauge understanding and synthesis, to assist with revising and rethinking plans, and to internalize the experience.
Demonstration involves metacognition, with students making explicit what and how they learned and what they have accomplished, capturing the totality of the experience. Integration of technology is encouraged.