How Will We Build Our Project Website?

What’s in this Section?

In this section, you will learn more about the Shared Action Learning approach to the IQP. The section is organized along the lines of the figure below. Additional guidance and examples for developing your website will be provided throughout the project- a guide can be found in the Student Resources.

Your project website, including Executive Summaries and other linked documents, will substitute for the IQP Proposal and the IQP Final Report typically required at the completion of the preparation term and field terms, respectively.

Project pages will include your team’s project homepage; information about the “cast of characters” associated with your project; your analysis of how your project fits with and extends previous CTPC work; your research into key questionsProject Website Overview revised or topics critical to understanding your project; methodological planning pages that you will first use to plan how you will investigate a key issue, or conduct a set of interviews or meetings, then revise afterward to reflect what you actually did; plus other pages that include reports, databases, user manuals, photo galleries, videos, and any other valuable outcomes of your project. Each team will develop a comprehensive bibliographic listing of references throughout the project.

Why this approach to project and website development?

IQPs are designed to strengthen students’ ability to communicate through writing, speaking, and visualization. These skills are essential for almost any kind of project. They not only allow you to share ideas and experiences with others, but the effort to write well, tell a good story, create a good poster, or draw a compelling image leads us to understand things much more deeply ourselves.

In pursuing its mission to be a center of innovation for student learning and sustainable community development, the CTPC has a history of developing innovative approaches to projects and project reporting. For example, through the creative efforts of students and advisors, we have developed the project center website, a CTCP Annual Report with executive summaries of all projects each year, and new approaches to community presentations with local project colleagues. While the core elements of Shared Action Learning – connecting, planning, acting, observing, reflecting, etc. – can be found in all kinds of IQPs, we have found a new approach to IQP reporting is needed to support students when, as is often the case in Cape Town, their projects involve close, open-ended, responsive collaboration with communities.

The driving force behind these reporting changes is to provide a process that better connects “doing” and “reporting” in real time, mainly by encouraging students to reflect on their project “as it happens.” This we hope will lead to clearer thinking about project strategies, and when done, leave a richer legacy not just of project outcomes, but of project process for others to learn from.

We also expect the skills and perspectives you develop to be helpful to you in the future. For one, websites are increasingly important modes of professional communication, yet they raise challenging questions and opportunities regarding design, narrative structure and rhetorical argument that differ from traditional paper reports. Also, if you grow in your ability to communicate successfully in diverse ways with your teammates, CTPC peers, advisors, sponsors, co-researchers, community kids, shopkeepers, project opponents, government officials and politicians, interested experts, media members, and others, you should be better prepared for … almost anything!

How will we build our websites?

Each team will create a project website on the CTPC website ( The figure to the left shows how the conceptual elements of SAL can be used to organize your thinking about project development and website design. This framework is designed to be flexible and adaptable to your needs, and to offer real value to a wide potential audience of sponsors, colleagues, project stakeholders, students, researchers, project developers and others.

During the Prep Term: Development will begin early in the term and focus on work done to understand the context of your project, connect with your project sponsor and others, and plan for work in Cape Town. At the end of the prep term you will prepare a Home Page summary on your website as a way of synthesizing what you’ve learned and strategies for moving forward in Cape Town.

During the Field Term: Once in Cape Town, you will use the website as a vehicle for weekly reporting on project developments and reflecting on their significance. You will add pages reporting on various planning activities and the actions and observations that result. Near the project’s end, you will prepare a final Executive Summary that will be posted as the entry point to your homepage, giving readers an overview of your project with links to key sections. To create a coherent story, most executive summaries will draw on the weekly “Acts” in your project narrative pages, through which you will have established a chronology of the major questions, challenges, milestones, insights, and accomplishments of the project. The final Executive Summary will also be prepared as a visually rich, brief report to be included as a chapter in the CTPC Annual Report for printing, and uploaded to the WPI online project submission system as the team’s formal report, with links also to the website.
Pages will be released to sponsors and others as teams and advisors agree they are ready for release, meaning that issues of professionalism, confidentiality, potential controversy and the like have been carefully considered.

Writing About Project Process – Scenes and Acts

Project process reporting represents an approach to IQP execution (and community development) rooted in the complexities of working closely with diverse groups of people in ways that seek to share as fruitfully as possible the process of defining the project’s goals and working procedures in ways that benefit all involved – “shared action learning!” These complexities place heavy demands on students and others, including advisors, to continually process a rich set of ideas, impressions, and inputs from many different people – that is, to “connect” – and to then “plan” and “act” in concert with others, all the while “observing” what’s happening (or what conditions exist, etc.) in order to “reflect, share, and learn” before taking the next steps in project development. Capturing this rich process in close to real time is challenging, but essential to understanding and moving in rhythm with complex community dynamics. In order to help you do this effectively and efficiently, we use a metaphor of improvised “Scenes” to provide concepts and guidance for how students can work through, and report on, this process. On a weekly basis, the team will summarize and reflect on these scenes as an Act in the larger project, just as a number of scenes constitutes an Act in a play or other theatrical performance. Much more explanation and guidance on putting this theatrical metaphor to good use is provided under “Reflect, Share, Learn.”