Planning a Project
What makes a good project?
The project is complex and connects to real-world problems. The Seeing Reason mapping tool is an appropriate tool in the investigation of any problem that involves multiple influences (factors) that impact an outcome. The context should have sufficient complexity; that is, it should have a high level of interaction among the factors.
A context that has relatively few factors and interrelationships that are fairly linear is not as interesting, or as much in need of a causal relationship organizer.
For example, a study of "What causes tides?" would produce a map with few factors and fairly direct relationships. The additional factors and relationship complexity in a study of "What caused the Great Tillamook Bay Flood of 1996?" might justify the need for map building.
Or better yet, challenge students to develop recommendations in a project that examines: "What can we do to prevent another Tillamook Bay Flood?"
The problem is influenced by factors that can be measured, observed, or verified. When students must limit factors to things that they can "prove" in some way, they are required to think carefully and critically about cause and effect. They must be able to observe, measure, or somehow verify a factor through research or review of research. For example, the problem "Why does the moon look bigger when it rises?" has factors that can be measured, while the problem "Why is a full moon so romantic?" does not.
The project is interdisciplinary. A good project is one that addresses an authentic, real-world problem that is broad and that can be studied from the vantage point of many disciplines. While a social studies teacher might design a project that looked at the causes and effects of the Irish Potato Famine from historical, cultural, and economic perspective, an interdisciplinary team might address the broader problem of the causes and effects of famine.