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student ownership of projects  

I wonder if anyone else is having issues with fostering student ownership of projects when the instructor is the one designing the project? It seems there are 2 ways of approaching this - let the students come up with their own project (which you can do if you have enough resources and experience) or design a group project that they all take part in that has some prospect of success...
I was originally going to have students break into committees, each of which had to be responsible for different aspects of the whole project. Their committee work would be part of their grade and they would need to keep minutes or a log of activities, etc. At the last minute I decided to cut it from the syllabus because it seemed too unorthodox.
Does anyone have any thoughts on that type of approach?

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Dave Mogk will probably post on poster sessions in general. If you want to go that route, it is possible to propose several timely issues to investigate (especially if you have partners beating down your door!) and have students vote on which to undertake.
I hadn't thought of a log or minutes, but it makes GREAT sense. "If it isn't in writing it doesn't exist." The concept of "billable hours" is deeply ingrained in our culture - why not start now?

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What about the ownership from community partners? It seems to me that the meetings, letter/contract early in the project should reflect "buy in" from all contributing parties including students, faculty, administration, and community partners. This is our own biggest challenge in crafting SL.

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Jennifer,
One approach I have used is to conduct the project on more than one level. For example, in our intro-level environmental hydro course, the intro students executed the projects as we designed them. But every year we invited 3 upperclass students who has already taken the class to come back and design their own projects. This worked well in many ways.

We have lots more info about cooperative learning strategies such as what Jennifer describes:
http://serc.carleton.edu/introgeo/cooperative/index.html

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Thanks for the suggestions - these are all good ideas. I will look at the link. I get a lot of good ideas from SERC but there is SO much info that I can't always get through all of it before a semester starts. :)
I hadn't thought of the formal problem statement letter/contract beforehand so I haven't implemented that this time (yet). (In fact, shared this with a colleague in modern languages today and they hadn't thought of it either - thanks!)

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I try to begin a project with a meeting between the students and the community partner. I ask the partner to explain the project from their perspective including the need for it along with specific requests for info and/or data. At the end,we follow up with an oral report to the partner, often at a public meeting.

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