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The aim of the PRIDE Dissertations was to challenge the most able Year 7, 8 and 9 students through a supportive research project and to give them an insight into the academic expectations of a University degree. The project ran from January to July 2017. The students were allowed to choose their own research question on an academic area of their choice. Here are some examples of the project titles:
Once each student had selected a research question Villiers Park Scholars from Sussex Coast College provided twice termly academic supervision to:
Between supervision sessions the Villiers Park Programme Manager ran academic surgeries fortnightly to ensure that no student stalled in their progress.
Following the completion of the research papers the students took part in a Viva Voce (oral examination) with school staff where they answered questions on their findings and the research process.
During the PRIDE Dissertation process we worked closely with parents to inform them of the work completed in the support sessions and how they could help at home. Here is some of the feedback we received from parents.
"This has been quite a journey for our son, one which has pushed him out of his comfort zone and challenged him to achieve. We have offered only minimal support; after helping to identify a question we only stepped in to discuss time management techniques, feeling that he needed to be intrinsically motivated for this to have any lasting value. The project has provided the correct balance of rigour and focus, with the regular support sessions serving as opportunities to re-evaluate. He is very proud of what he's achieved, and the experience will help him as he moves forward." Mrs Brown
"I would firstly like to say what an enjoyable this project was to work on with my daughter. At the graduation evening I was very impressed with the quality and variety of titles chosen by the students." Mrs Stunt
"Both my children enjoyed working on their dissertations and I’d say it was a good experience for both of them." Mr Perrotton
"It’s sometimes hard to persuade students to take on more academic work but once my son involved himself, he got a lot out of it and really enjoyed it." Ms Heard
"Overall the project has been an amazing success for my son! - From picking his own subject, working out what he wanted to say and why, how he wanted to make his points, how to research and what to research, how to put together a clear argument and then make a counter argument and how to manage his own time and prioritise, all these areas and more have been highlighted through this project.
"Some specific skills which he has either gained or improved upon:
- how to structure an extended piece of writing, to include introduction, main body, with arguments and counter arguments.
- how to actually develop and produce an extended piece of writing, of 4000 words plus - definitely the longest piece of writing he has ever put together.
"I could go on - but basically this project has, from our perspective been a real success and far exceeded what we had originally expected. I know he is a bright lad - but he has amazed even his biased Mum!!" Ms Cochrane