Project Guidelines

Dr. Sarah's Project Guidelines

Methodology and Hints

Be sure that you have reviewed class notes and completed the relevant readings and practice problems BEFORE attempting the project problems. Start the problems early. I give you at least a week to complete them, because they are problems that may need lots of thought and it will take you a while to write them up. You should look at problems and test out ideas with plenty of examples. Then leave the problem and come back to it again. Keep repeating this process until the solution falls into place. I have office hours each week for you to come to if you do not understand something and I will also answer questions on ASULearn forums. I am always happy to help!

Writing Up Your Solutions

Your solutions, mathematics and computer work needs to be fully (but briefly, if possible) explained. You can think of this as annotating your work. You are encouraged to work together and talk to me, but you must write up your problems on your own. Your explanations need to be in your own words.

A good rule of thumb in deciding how much to write is to write enough so that a classmate who hasn't yet solved the problem could understand what you are doing and why.
  1. The effort you expend in clearly explaining your work solidifies your learning. In particular, research has shown that writing and speaking trigger different areas of your brain. By writing something down - even when you think you already understand it - your learning is reinforced by involving other areas of your brain.
  2. By making your work clear and self-contained (that is, making it a document that you can read without referring to the questions in the text), it will be a much more useful study guide when you review for a quiz or exam.
Acknowledgments The purpose of homework is to learn and practice concepts, and develop critical thinking, proof and problem-solving skills, so you should try problems on your own. Feel free to talk to me or each other if you are stuck on this assignment, but be sure to acknowledge any sources including each other, like "The insight for this solution came from a conversation with Joel." If you are copying something out of a book, refer to the source and page number in your write-up. If you know how to do a problem and are asked for help, try to give hints rather than the solution: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime (or at least this course). Submitting someone else's work as your own (PLAGIARISM) is a serious violation of the University's Academic Integrity Code, which defines: Plagiarism includes, but is not limited to, borrowing, downloading, cutting and pasting, and paraphrasing without acknowledgement, including from online sources, or allowing an individual's academic work to be submitted as another's work. Your group's formatting, explanations, and annotations need to be presented in your group's own unique style in order to distinguish your work as your own.


Adapted from Ian Parberry's Speaker's Guide: Oral presentations my be summed up as follows: "Tell them what you're going to tell them. Tell them. Then tell them what you told them". In the Introduction you tell them what you are going to tell them. In the Body and Technicalities you tell them. In the Conclusion you tell them what you told them. Don't be scared of this repetition. Sometimes repetition is the only way to clarify misconceptions. Naturally, this means that you should repeat things in different ways, and not quote yourself verbatim.

The Introduction This is possibly the most important part of your presentation. It sets the tone for the entire talk. It determines whether the audience will prick up their ears, or remain slumped in their chairs. A lot of snap decisions about your competency are made before the Introduction is over. First impressions are very important.
Define the Problem An amazing number of speakers forget this simple point. If the audience doesn't understand the problem being attacked, then they won't understand the rest of your talk.
Motivate the Audience Explain why the problem is so important. Throw in a little philosophy if necessary. How does the problem fit into the larger picture? What makes the problem interesting? You can return to these issues in the Conclusion, when you can re-address them with the benefit of hindsight.
Provide a Road-map Give the audience a brief guide to the rest of the talk

Background Material You should explain any background material that is necessary. You should also summarize important ideas from class that are necessary.

Main Material As you are writing, you need to say EVERYTHING you are writing, and pause at times to make eye contact, orally reiterate parts of the proof and explain where you are going next. Be sure to go very slowly since others will not have seen your approach before.
Maintain Eye Contact Maintain eye contact with your audience. Spread your attention throughout the audience instead of concentrating on any one person or group (even if they are the only ones who matter). A good strategy for beginners is to choose a few people at random in different places in the audience, and look at them successively.
Control Your Voice Speak clearly and with sufficient volume. Don't speak in a monotone voice. Avoid information-free utterances ("Um, ah, er", etc.) Avoid fashionable turns of phrase. Avoid hype.
Control Your Motion Project energy and vitality without appearing hyperactive. Use natural gestures. Try not to remain rooted in one spot, but avoid excessive roaming. Don't stand in front of what you are writing.

The Conclusion Your aim here is to round off the talk neatly. You should discuss the results briefly in retrospect placing emphasis where it is needed. Hindsight is Clearer than Foresight You can now make observations that would have been confusing if they were introduced earlier.

Indicate that your Talk is Over An acceptable way to do this is to say "Thank-you. Are there any questions?".