Practical Project Design > preface
  All of you probably want to know what Practical Project Design is. First of all it is not a course in its normal sense. That is, it is definitely different from the courses you have studied so far, such as English in Daily Life, English at Leisure, etc. It involves a design, a design of a practical project, hence the title.

You may wonder why you are asked to design a practical project at all. Well, as you may very well know, for any degree or degree-related study, students are required, by the national curriculum, to write a dissertation, which is like writing a very long composition treating an academic topic. From your perspective, you are engaged in a degree-related study, and therefore you should, in principle, write a dissertation, too. One serious obstacle to your fulfillment of this requirement is the difficulty in offering you the supervision that the students in face-to-face mode are given while writing their dissertation. Practical Project Design is intended to be a solution to the problem.

So Practical Project Design is in a sense your dissertation-supervisor-in-print (DSIP in short). It starts with a practical problem, that is, one of any problems you may have in your teaching practice, or with an issue, that is, one of any issues that you have in your content course study and that you want to explore further. This DSIP will guide you all the way through the problem-solving or issue-exploring process, till you write it up as the final project report. The problem-solving or issue-exploring process and your final report constitute your dissertation!

A note is in order here. The objectives of this final course are:

to help you familiarize with some research methods
to help you learn to solve a specific problem or explore a specific issue, by using scientific methods of investigation
to guide you through a research process
to help you write a project report

Notice the wording "help you do such-and-such", which is a thing totally different from "do such-and-such for you". No one can do research for you. It is you who actually do it. And you cannot really learn anything without actually doing it yourself.

Finally what matters is not whether you have reached a right conclusion or made a great discovery, but the research process you have gone through, and the methods you learn to use. You will be assessed not against the conclusion or the discovery you have made, but against the evidence you produce that shows your research process and the methods you use.

It is time to start! Good luck!

Gu Yueguo