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Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University
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Independent Study

J401-03 and J421-3


PURPOSE: Washington and Lee's small size and its unique faculty-student relationships allow students to take advantage of a number of special learning opportunities. Students in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications are encouraged to enrich their academic experience by taking advantage of the department's Directed Individual Study (J401-3) and Directed Individual Research (J421-3) courses. To maximize the student's benefit and to preserve the emphasis on academic rigor and classic liberal arts disciplines for which Washington and Lee is justly renowned, the department has adopted the following guidelines:

PROCEDURES: A student who wishes to pursue a project appropriate for Directed Individual Research or Directed Individual Study credit must present a proposal to the department head by the middle of the term preceding the term in which the student intends to receive the credit. That allows the department to review the proposal in time for the student to register for the following term. Students are encouraged to hold informal discussions with one or more members of the department before submitting a formal proposal. The purpose of these discussions is to give the proposal focus and strength. Requirements for the proposal are listed below.

The department head will review the proposal and may suggest revisions to the student before the proposal is reviewed by the journalism department faculty. When the department head determines that the proposal is ready for review, the department faculty will meet with the student to review the proposal. The department faculty may require revision of the proposal based on the student's presentation, or it may alter the number of credits proposed by the student. The faculty will vote on the final proposal, and the student will be informed of the outcome in time to register for the following term's classes.

REQUIREMENTS: The proposal must focus on the purposes of the independent study or research outlined above, taking into account the effort usually required for the awarding of academic credit at Washington and Lee. Specifically, the proposal will include a brief statement of the problem or issue to be addressed by the project, which should in turn reflect an initial review of the research or other relevant literature. It will also include a research question or hypothesis in the case of a research project, or a statement of the intended outcome of the project in the case of directed individual study, in enough detail for the faculty to evaluate the likelihood that the project will be completed in the time envisioned and to the standards expected of Washington and Lee students.

The proposal will also include a brief outline of the proposed methodology or procedures to be used in executing the project and the resources available to the student. Again, the proposed methodology or procedures should be discussed in enough detail for the faculty to evaluate their appropriateness, and a literature review must be extensive enough to indicate that there is sufficient and appropriate relevant material to undertake the project.

The proposal will also include a schedule for the project to demonstrate the student's ability to complete it in the allotted time and to justify the awarding of the number of credits proposed.

Finally, the student will include the name of a faculty member who has agreed to act as principal adviser to the project.

AWARDING OF CREDIT: The student will meet at least weekly with his or her faculty adviser during the term in which the Directed Individual Study or Research credits are taken. Upon substantial completion of the project, but in no case later than two weeks before the end of the term, the student will submit, in the case of Directed Research, a draft of a formal research paper, or, in the case of Directed Study, evidence of the completed work (a rough-cut videotape of a program, for example) together with a discussion of approximately 3,000 words detailing the academic component of the project.

The faculty adviser will critique the draft and return it to the student for final revision. The research paper, or project with accompanying report, will be submitted to the project adviser by 5 p.m. of the final day of that term's exam period. The adviser and department head together will determine the final grade on the research paper or project.