As you are approaching the upper grades of high school, you may start hearing the term “Independent Study Unit” bandied around in classroom. What exactly is an ISU (or ISP – Independent Study Project) and how can this prepare you for university?
An ISU is an assignment or project that gives you the freedom to choose your own topic within a subject, research it, and then write a paper about it. The project should encourage you to work on your own initiative about a topic that interests you. Some teachers may require periodic check-ins, such as a list of sources and rough drafts, while other teachers might just give you a final due date and leave the rest up to you. Either way, it’s handy to know the important steps to creating an exceptional project.
- Know your subject: Before you form your thesis statement, make sure you have a good understanding of the subject you’re working on. Ask yourself questions such as: What was the social/political/cultural-environment like during that specific time? Were there any conflicts during that time? What caused a particular event? Who were the leaders at the time? Once you can answer these questions, you will be more prepared to narrow and define your topic.
- Choose an area of focus: With all of the information you have gathered, you will be ready to choose a topic to focus on. Make sure that you can compile enough information in order to analyze your topic thoroughly, without it being too broad or overwhelming. Usually, a good place to start is by forming your thesis statement in terms of a question.
- Gather information: Find resources that relate to your topic – academic journals, books, newspaper articles and first-hand accounts are all great sources of information. Once you read through a source, highlight or type out some quotations that support your theory, and make sure you write down which source it’s from.
- Write it up: Write up your project using your sources and the rubric from your course. Remember to revise it after you finish – a first draft should never be your last draft!
Ruth Rumack has been a full-time teacher and educator since 1996. Visit her Google+ page to find out more about early childhood education.