Project work in JC: 10 tips to smoothen your journey
Does hearing the phrase “project work” make you immediately feel stressed out?
As a JC student, the truth is life will turn out to be extremely stressful. And that is why you’ll need to know how to manage and cope with stress.
Project work is a difficult subject to navigate and it comes with many challenges.
Hopefully, this article will be able to help make your project work journey a much smoother and easier one.
Project work is a compulsory H1 subject all students in JC (junior college) or MI (millennia institute) are required to complete.
Project work consists of both group and individual components. Students will be grouped into teams of around 4 to 5 people.
They will then choose 1 out of 2 broad terms they wish to base their project on.
From there, students begin their research and brainstorm for solutions regarding the topic they chose.
The final submissions are a group written report, oral presentation in front of a panel of assessors and an individual report, insights and reflections.
Why is project work important?
For students planning to enter a local university, their project work grades are taken into account when calculating their University Admission Score (UAS).
Moreover, project work aims to teach students about teamwork, communication, design thinking and other important skills they can use in the future.
Project work in JC was not an easy experience for my group mates and me, but we all learnt a lot from it. Hopefully, the tips below will be of use to you in your project work journey.
10 tips to excel at project work in JC
1.) Set ground rules and expectations
Once you are assigned your groups, it would be beneficial for all of you to sit down together and set a few ground rules and expectations.
This will help your group work more efficiently and hopefully minimise any chances of conflict between members.
I would suggest making a Google document to type everything out and place it in a shared Google drive that all members can access.
It may seem silly but this will set the tone for how your group will work for the rest of the project work journey.
Here are some guiding questions you could use:
- How far in advance should one inform the group if they cannot make it to a meeting?
- How far in advance should meetings be scheduled?
- Who will take minutes during meetings?
- What are each member’s roles/ how will tasks be delegated?
- If an individual does not finish their assigned tasks, what are the consequences?
2.) Choose your topic wisely
Other than making sure your topic fits under the term that you have selected, there are other conditions your group should consider when choosing your topic.
Ensure that the topic you’ve chosen has a sizable target audience, research that can support it and professionals in the field that you can interview.
Ensuring that your topic checks all these boxes will help make your research process much easier.
That being said, topics that are highly discussed may have been done before and because of which could be difficult to come up with original solutions.
3.) Secure a professional interview as soon as possible
As part of the research process, students are often urged to conduct surveys or interviews.
Having an interview with a professional in the same field of study as your topic will boost your credibility significantly.
Furthermore, you can take the opportunity to ask questions about your topic that you may not find the answer to online, or ask about the feasibility of your solutions.
Also, it is better to ask for an interview in advance as not all the professionals you approach will be available or willing to be interviewed.
I suggest finding their work email and emailing them about an interview. You can search for the name of your professional and their work email is likely to come up in the results.
Be sure to remember to ask your project work tutor for a cover letter to use when emailing the professionals.
4.) Be resourceful
Resources are abundant on the internet, you need only know where they are.
In project work, the credibility and quality of your sources are extremely important. When searching for evidence to back up your claims, Google may not always provide you with what you are looking for.
An easier way to find credible sources is to use Google scholar.
Google scholar shows you results such as research papers. In fact, you can even tailor the search engine to show the most recent papers, papers with citations and patents.
In the event that you want to include a video in your oral presentation as I did, I suggest using VSDC.
VSDC is a free video editing software that I could easily navigate as a beginner in video editing.
5.) Check-in and consult your project work tutor
Project work is difficult to navigate and may be confusing in the beginning.
The best way to clear up your misconceptions and ensure you are on the right track is to consult your project work tutor regularly.
Consult your tutor as a group and go through with them what you have achieved thus far and your upcoming plans. Take in their feedback and improve on your project.
They are likely to have gone through the project work process several times and thus can provide insights into what the assessors are looking for.
6.) Make a timeline and stick to it
The whole project work process will be happening during your J1 year making it difficult to balance academics and other commitments as well.
Setting a timeline on what should be accomplished will save your group from going through a mad rush for time towards submission deadlines.
This can also be useful if your group makes it a point to know when the crunch periods are, such as during A level mother tongue examinations or big school events.
Use this to make use of times when your group is free to complete more work.
7.) Record and rewatch your oral presentation rehearsals
While preparing for oral presentation, you are bound to have endless rehearsals in front of your tutors and classmates.
I learnt from my project work rehearsals that no matter how much feedback your audience gives you, it is extremely difficult to figure out exactly what you need to improve on.
Instead record and re-watch your oral presentation rehearsals, you’ll be able to hear yourself and judge your performance. By doing so, you identify what exactly needs to be changed.
Your group can also go through the recordings together and point out anything that seems incorrect.
On top of that, you can compare older rehearsals to newer ones to see your progress.
8.) Dealing with difficult group mates or tutors
Sometimes, your group mates or project work tutors are not the easiest people to work with.
For your group mates, it is best to talk to them about it within the group first and attempt to reach a middle ground.
If this does not work and their behaviour is getting out of hand, inform your tutor.
For your project work tutors, you may attempt to talk to them about it in a polite and respectful manner.
If the issue persists, you may approach another project work tutor for assistance or guidance.
9.) Identify the strengths of your teammates and use them
Within your group, there are bound to be people with different strengths. The earlier you and your group can identify your strengths, the better you can make use of them.
For example, if someone in your group is particularly good at public speaking, they can help other teammates with their performance in oral presentation.
If someone is particularly good at graphic design, they can help more with designing poster or presentation slides.
Of course, the responsibilities should still be evenly shared amongst members and not left all to one person.
This helps the group work more efficiently and helps the group improve as a whole.
10.) Organise your WR as you go along
Normally, WRs are quite lengthy as it is essentially a summary of your whole project. Personally, my group’s WR was around 110 pages long.
When writing your WR, it will be much longer as you have yet to cut down words to fit the word count. Thus, it is better to organise it while writing and not wait until the end to do it.
Make a content page and headers so that it is easier to directly locate which section you need to edit or remove.
Add in your citations immediately using the “footnote” function on Google docs.
Start your bibliography for your sources early and add your sources in as you go to save time when you complete your WR.
Project work is not an easy subject to understand nor excel in. It has many components and will put your skills and mental strength to the test.
That being said, I hope that these tips will be able to aid you in your project work journey and make the process slightly less challenging.