2017 Group Projects
This page provides a description of the team project, as well as guidelines, steps and instructions, and deadlines.
In the group research project, your team, with guidance and feedback from the instructors, will learn how to make evidence-based assessments and recommendations regarding dilemmas in food systems, sustainability, and climate change. A key to making this a useful and successful learning experience for you, is that you be passionate and fully engaged in the process, and willing to push your conventional ideas of what you are supposed to do in a university class. In the first part of the class, we are using an organic versus confinement milk production system as a way to model what we expect you to do with your team members in the second half of the class.
Below is a description of the main steps of the project, part of which will be conducted in class and part of which will be conducted by you and your team members out-of-class. Deadlines are listed here on this page, and are also noted in the Schedule and Materials page.
Through class sessions early in the semester:
- Each team member will learn some basic aspects of HTML and web page design.
- Each team member will learn some basic aspects of library search database.
- Each team member will learn about planning, executing and evaluating effort from each team member.
- Teams will develop descriptions of roles and responsibilities of each team member in class, and submit this document as the basis for the final peer grade team members will give to their teammates.
Then teams will apply this knowledge together to create the following deliverables:
- Each team will turn in an annotated bibliography and outline by 11:59 pm on 03/16 and lead an in-class discussion about their results to this point on the date assigned in the table below.
- From this point undergraduate and graduate members of each team will work on their own, separate, written deliverables addressing their same team topic. Both written deliverables are due by 11:59 pm on Friday, 04/21:
- The team will rejoin to present the results of their work as one for the final presentation, the date of which is assigned in the table below.
The instructions for each of these deliverables can be viewed by clicking on their links in the list above or scrolling down on this page.
Annotated Bibliography and Outline:
This will be your first team deliverable in which all members of each team must participate, no matter their student standing as graduate or undergraduate. The annotated bibliography should contain citations of credible sources that directly inform the research question of the group. Several sentences or a small paragraph of a team member's own writing should then summarize the important points of each of these sources and connect it to their research question. For an example, see these annotated bibliography entries from Purdue OWL.
The outline should then begin to show how these sources will inform your analysis. The outline may include sections such as a literature review, methods and materials, results, discussion, and conclusion, but the sections you choose should be tailored to your research topic and methods. At this stage your outline should contain well-formulated hypotheses for your research question(s), an indication of the method you will use, the data or information source you will apply the methodology to, and any preliminary results or discussion items.
Both should be typed in a word document, turned into a PDF and then placed on your project website and submitted through the Dropbox as a backup by 11:59 pm on 03/16. The bibliography and outline together make up 5 points or 5% of your final grade. The rubric by which these will be graded is here: Mid-Semester Rubric for Outline and Annotated Bibliography.
Team-lead Project Discussion/Partial Report:
Design a 15 minute presentation summarizing your work to this point. Then, we will have 5 minutes of class discussion (for each team) where you can pose questions to the room about areas you would like input on and in turn, field your classmates' and instructors' questions. We suggest (but do not require) basing your presentation in your website instead of using Powerpoint. This ensures that you start populating your website and avoids unnecessary time wasted creating slides that don’t have a further use.
In lieu of a quiz on days when student discussions are occurring, all students should post their thoughts/questions/pointers about EACH of the teams that presented on the links to the Feedback blog pages that can be found on the "Schedule and Materials" page. (Post-class blogs for each of the three presenting teams for the day will all be due by 4 PM the following day, just like a quiz.) This will provide the presenting teams with some good feedback as they work on their final drafts and hold students accountable for being active participants during team presentations.For presenting students, include in your presentation what has been accomplished to date and what you anticipate remains to be done. Feel free to be creative, but more specifically here is a check list of what to include:
- Your mock consultancy scenario and research question (if relevant, describe how your question or thinking has evolved and why),
- Key findings from the literature that inform your hypothesis or hypotheses,
- Description of your methodology,
- Two or more figures and/or tables of data (either created by your or taken from publications with proper citation) to describe your current findings,
- Summary of your current conclusions,
- Summary of your remaining tasks, timeline, and questions you are grappling with.
The discussion and associated assignments are worth 10 points or 10% of your final grade. The rubric by which this will be graded is here: Team Presentation Rubric.
Undergraduate Website (Initial and Final Version):
Undergraduate students will be responsible for designing a website with their project findings as their final written deliverable. The website should reflect the sections found in a peer-review style paper (e.g. literature review, methods, discussion, etc.) but be designed in such a way as to be more accessible for a lay audience and more visually appealing to keep the average scroll-er engaged. However, this is still an academic writing exercise so the narrative must be based on a sufficient quantity of research that is of a sufficient quality. Your writing needs to convey clear ideas that integrate this research, formatted in an appropriate style for a webpage. The main statements and arguments must be supported by cited material.
The body of the text on your webpage should amount to 2,500 (min) to 4,000 (max) words. The initial draft of the website is due by 11:59 pm on Friday, 04/21. The instructors can go online and see if changes have been made to your website beyond this deadline, and will grade the latest draft that was activated before midnight. This draft is worth 15 points or 15% of your final grade in the course.
The following week the instructors will return comments and their graded rubric for this initial draft to you. Final revisions addressing their comments are due by noon on Thurs, 05/11 for five points or 5% of your final grade. As you can see, the initial draft is worth three times as many points as the final draft - enforcing the importance of making that first draft as tight as possible. The rubric for both the Initial and Final Draft of the website is here: Undergraduate Website Rubric.
Graduate Peer-Review Style Paper (Initial and Final Paper):
The graduate students in the team will turn in a peer reviewed article as their written deliverable for the semester. To do so you need to document the actual scientific literature with a thorough analysis of experimental objectives, methodologies, major findings, and limitations of the work. Follow the Instructions for Authors guidelines for submitting a journal article to the journal “Climatic Change,” including guidelines for headings, figures, tables, citations, etc. The only exception to these guidelines is the length; we expect 4,000 (minimum) to 6,000 (maximum) words.
Your paper should clearly bound the question you are asking, explicitly answer this question, and address your stakeholders' information needs. To do this, you must draw on a sufficient quantity of research that is of a sufficient quality. You also must integrate this research in a cohesive and informative way, using arguments with clear logic. Your writing needs to convey clear ideas, that are thoughtfully formatted. Connections between ideas must be clearly established. The main statements and arguments must be supported by cited material. Independent analysis must be provided in the form of qualitative and (when/if available) quantitative evidence. In all, your paper needs to present a good balance between being a “summary,” an “analysis,” and a “commentary."
It is important that you treat the initial draft as a final draft rather than a first draft. Given that you will have received feedback from your peers and the instructors during your team-led discussion and the instructors assigned to your project are always available for feedback, there is no excuse for turning in an inferior initial draft.
The paper is due as a Word document (no pdf!) in the course website Dropbox by 11:59 pm on Friday, 04/21. This draft is worth 15 points or 15% of your final grade. The following week the instructors will return the document to you with track changed comments and a revised draft worth 5 points or 5% of your final grade will be due by noon on 05/11. As you can see, the initial draft is worth three times as many points as the final draft - enforcing the importance of making that first draft as tight as possible. The rubric for both the initial and final draft of the paper is located here: Graduate Peer-Review Style Paper Rubric.
Presentations should be timed to last 20 minutes and incorporate both graduate and undergraduate team members. Then, we will have 10 minutes of questions and answers. The total amount of time allotted per team is 30 minutes. Presentations should be given as if you were presenting the results of commissioned research to your clients or stakeholders. You can use whatever format you think will be most effective in conveying your question, how you bounded the question, your approach to answering the question, your data collection strategy, your data analysis/synthesis strategy, and your reflections/conclusions/recommendations. You should also highlight the limitation of your study (and/or the limitation of current scientific knowledge). Focus on the similar analysis between the graduate and undergraduate written deliverables, but call out areas where they differed if it is of interest to answering the client's question. The goal is to engage your audience (not just reading a web page or a ppt). To this effect, please use visuals (figures and tables) to highlight main points. Avoid reading text to your audience during the presentation.
You are not expected to go over all the details of your research. The details of your research will be evaluated as your instructors will grade your paper and your web page. Your oral presentation should encapsulate your project work in a compelling way. Your team is assigned a day to present in the Team Projects table above. The presentation is worth 10 points or 10% of your final grade. The rubric you will be graded on is here: Team Project Final Presentation Rubric.
Grading Your Teammates
The final deliverable you will be asked to submit to the instructors will be a grade of the teammates who worked with you on your project. This grade will be based on the completed worksheet your team submitted early in the semester that outlined roles and responsibilities of each team member. The average of your peers' grading will lead the instructors to adjust your final grade by +/- 5 points, a not insignificant amount.