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Senior Project Interview with Arts Chair Jenny Foreman

As a culminating course in Dublin's curriculum, Senior Project provides the opportunity for seniors to pursue a passion or field of study in a year-long course combining research with analysis and creative expression. 

How did the Senior Project class begin?

Jenny: Senior Project began back in 2014/2015, after a “blue sky” faculty meeting where we discussed things we wished we could have in the curriculum. The idea was a mini-thesis project, an idea already established at some schools so there were models. 

The first year Sarah Doenmez and I each taught one section. Over the years we have tried to create more pathways for different kinds of projects. The most current adaptation still has the basic structure where everyone starts with a formal project proposal, but students now come up with more ways to share aspects of their learning (a blog, artist reflection, etc.) Throughout the year students write reflections and literature reviews and end up with ~25 pages chronicling their progress. The goal is to reflect rather than report.

Some students start with something they want to make or design. If a student is interested in publishing their writing, for example, they might submit their work to a journal. The end results are always different. 

What does student research look like?

Jenny: “Research” usually consists of students asking questions and doing trial-and-error, defining what research can look like. Students grade themselves at different points in time and discover what structures they need to set/meet goals or what types of assignments they should give themselves. A major component of the project is the question of how you learn and how you best share what you learn. So as students present their findings, they not only show their project to an outside audience but become more comfortable speaking and can share their learning in different ways.

What should interested students know about Senior Project?

Jenny: Projects should be connected to a passion, but interested students need to be open to their project morphing over time - you need to think flexibly. For the first few weeks of the year we will meet every block, but most assignments are independent, with checkpoints coming four times each semester to see how students are meeting their self-assigned goals. Currently about 12-18 students each year take Senior Project, but we are hoping to envision future options that might take the form of electives or one-semester options.