Independent Study is an individually negotiated learning program of approximately 150 hours. Students design, negotiate and manage a program of study based on their existing experience and knowledge and on their longer-term work intentions. For a complete description of Independent Study, please visit SC&I Courses.
Students should also download and complete the Application for Independent Study in Information Technology and Informatics.
Scope of the Program
An Independent Study represents a significant learning opportunity. It provides a framework that allows students to design, negotiate and manage their own program of study based on their existing experience and knowledge as well as their longer-term intentions. As a 3-credit course, students are required to identify learning objectives, to work through how such learning objectives are going to be met, and how each will be demonstrated to the academic supervisor in SC&I. Students are expected to have completed substantial course work in the ITI major before commencing an independent study.
Procedure for Applying to Undertake an ITI Independent Study
Before an Independent Study can be formally approved, students are required to meet with Mike Doyle, Interim Director of the ITI major, first to discuss the nature, objectives and outcomes of the Independent Study, and then to develop a full proposal. When this proposal is reviewed and approved, the student will get be assigned a Special Permission Number to proceed with enrollment and to commence Independent Study.
Accordingly, a proposal needs to be fully negotiated, developed and approved before enrollment can occur. This proposal is essentially the formal agreement negotiated between the student and academic supervisor to ensure certain activities will be undertaken to achieve the learning goals, and that specific evidence will be produced to demonstrate the goals have been reached. Students are encouraged to identify his or her own learning needs from the outset, and to develop learning objectives and strategies consistent with those needs. Students are encouraged to reflect on their learning in the ITI major, their career goals, to identify particular interests, needs or gaps in their learning, and to tailor the independent study program to address these.
Typically this proposal (approximately three pages in length) will set out:
- The general purpose of the program of study. This will identify the topic area, how it links to the courses already undertaken, and how it extends current work. Some justification of chosen topic, such as its importance to the field of ITI and to personal career goals needs to be stated.
- Learning goals to be achieved. This is likely to encompass both the development of the knowledge of the chosen topic, the development of a range of technical, intellectual and evaluative skills, as well as a range of personal and professional qualities. These need to be identified quite explicitly in the proposal.
- Program activities. An overview of the activities that the project will involve needs to be provided. This will include formal library research, analysis and synthesis of the topic, and how the student intends to present the project. Part of the independent study may involve some form of technical development as a way of demonstrating mastery of learning, such as a creative website that illustrates mastery of sophisticated design techniques or software package. A timeline for the semester’s work should be provided.
- Resources. The student should provide a preliminary list of information resources that might form the starting point for the development of the core literature that will inform the study. The proposal should identify key technical requirements needed in the study, and if these are not available or provided by SC&I, how these needs will be met.
- Assessment. The proposal should provide some preliminary indication of how the final project is to be presented and assessed. This may take many forms, but typically involves an evaluative journal and one or more of the following: analytical paper, product, presentation, and self-evaluation.
- Dates. For commencement and completion.
- Academic Supervisor. There should be documentation (e.g. letter or email) indicating the willingness of the academic supervisor to work with the student.
- Resume. A copy of the student’s resume should be attached to the proposal.
During the Independent Study
Students are expected to engage in extensive and critical reading and analysis pertinent to the topic of the independent study. These readings will be determined in collaboration with the supervising faculty member. The student will develop a review of literature for the topic under study. The faculty member will determine the manner by which the student's work will be evaluated.
Students will meet regularly with an academic supervisor throughout the program. These meetings provide opportunity for students to:
- Discuss their progress at regular intervals (perhaps every two weeks – to be negotiated with the students)
- Deal with issues and concerns that arise during the course of study
- Provide input in terms of learning goals and meeting assessment requirements as set out in the proposal
- Get direction in terms of appropriate resources for researching the chosen topic
It is expected that students will develop a final project in collaboration with the supervising faculty member. This will be a part of the student portfolio. The student and faculty member will develop both the mode of presentation and the evaluation criteria and will determine the length of the independent study. For example, this might be a research-based paper of considerable depth and scope, or it might be a written paper that accompanies some technical project e.g. website, database.
Students are required to keep a journal of work, commentary on readings, and results of the independent study. This journal will conclude with a self-evaluation of the study, which includes what the student learned.