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The Personal Interest Project (PIP)

Outcomes
Why do a Personal Interest Project (PIP)?
Methodologies
Getting started
Teacher assistance
The structure
Importance of Society and Culture concepts
Meaning of “cross-cultural”
The “chunk” approach
Features of a good PIP
Questions
More

Outcomes

In undertaking your Personal Interest Project, you will be concentrating particularly on the following outcomes:

H1 explains the interactions between persons, societies, cultures and environments across time (i.e. the PIP captures the essence of Society and Culture)

H6 applies and evaluates the methodologies of social and cultural research (these are the ways you find out information for your PIP)

H7 applies appropriate language and concepts associated with society and culture (this is how you connect your PIP with Society and Culture)

H8 selects, organises and evaluates information and sources for usefulness, validity and bias (which makes sure the information for your PIP is accurate and appropriate)

H9 plans an investigation, analyses and synthesises information from a variety of perspectives and sources (in other words, your PIP “process”, from start to finish)

H10 communicates information, ideas and issues using appropriate written, oral and graphic forms (this means presenting your PIP effectively, so that the reader is interested and understands what you are trying to say)

H11 uses planning and review strategies to manage complex tasks, making effective use of time and resources (i.e. managing your time, not trying to do too much at once and reflecting critically on what you have done.

Focus: During the HSC course you research a topic of your own choice that must be connected to Society and Culture, through the course concepts, using appropriate methodologies and including a cross-cultural perspective.

Why do a Personal Interest Project (PIP)?

Through the PIP process you learn valuable primary and secondary research skills such as; interview, focus group and questionnaire techniques, as well as expertise in gathering information from books, journals and electronic sources.

On completion, many students report experiencing an exhilarating sense of achievement, not just because a major piece of work is finished, but also because he or she has become an “expert” on the chosen topic. The independent learning skills that you develop will be very useful in the future, especially if you choose to continue your studies at a tertiary level.

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Methodologies

Appropriate methodologies you could use to research your PIP include:

survey; case study; participant observation; content analysis; focus group; action research; questionnaire; interview; statistical analysis; ethnographic study; personal reflection; secondary research.

When researching you should strive to be ethical, i.e. considerate of people’s privacy; asking permission to use information others have provided; seeking permission if you wish to use interviewees’ names; taking care when researching sensitive issues; always acknowledgingthe sources of secondary information.

For more information go to the Methodologies section (Page 31) in HSC Core of the Society and Culture Syllabus, which can be accessed via the Syllabus button at the top of this page.

The use of technology can enhance your PIP. To find out more, refer to the Laptop Wrap: Writing a PIP (external website).

Getting started

Ideas for PIP topics can be found if you consider: your family or personal world; a social issue you already feel strongly about; issues arising from Society and Culture or other classes; social issues arising from films, novels, TV documentaries, magazines, “net” browsing; class discussions; inspiration from past PIPs and past Society and Culture students; inspirational people in your student’s life; involvement in community activities; interests and hobbies; future career ideas.

You will know your idea is a good one if it can be connected to the Society and Culture course through the course concepts. Once you have settled on a topic, it will need to be refined so that your PIP has a manageable focus. Your teacher can help you achieve this.

Teacher assistance

Your teacher can advise you on topic choice, refinement of question or hypothesis or changes of direction or topic. He or she can also monitor and encourage the “Chunk” approach, provide instruction in research methodologies and provide instruction and advice about referencing of secondary sources. Your teacher can also help you believe in your ability to complete the PIP and provide ladders to scale any “brick walls”.

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The structure

The introduction (no more than 500 words):

A brief description of what the topic is about, why it was chosen, and how it contributes to a better understanding of Society and Culture. It explains and justifies the choice of methodologies and specifies the cross-cultural component.

The log (no more than 500 words):

A summary of your diary, which you have kept throughout the entire research process. It shows the sequential development of the PIP. This is often the most “revealing” section of your work.

Central material (should be between 2500 – 4000 words):

This contains description and analysis of the research carried out in investigation of your focus question or hypothesis. It may include photos, tables or graphs, but these must be labelled and incorporated into the text through discussion. This section must contain a cross-cultural perspective. All sources of secondary information need to be acknowledged by using a method such as the Harvard system. Using a “chapter” format may help you organise your information more effectively and set short-term progress goals.

Conclusion (no more than 500 words):

What have you learned from doing the PIP? Reflect on social and cultural literacy.

Resource list:

Annotated references. This means a list, alphabetical by author’s name, with full publication details and a brief description of how each item was useful in your research process. Your resource list can be categorised according to whether it is print material, video, film, CD-ROM or Internet.

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Importance of Society and Culture concepts

Concepts make the important connection between your research and the Society and Culture course. The smooth, effective, integrated use of concepts distinguishes the PIP as a professional piece of Society and Culture work. The use of concepts also reflects your understanding of the social world, i.e. your social and cultural literacy.

Meaning of “cross-cultural”

You must show some knowledge and understanding of viewpoints other than your own. In other words, your topic needs to reflect a perspective different from your immediate culture (in terms of space and/or time). For example: time or generation, socio-economic group, gender, ethnicity or location.

The cross-cultural perspective needs to be integrated into the Central Material section of your project. Examples may include: comparing marriage rituals in two different cultures (ethnicity, location); researching the similarities and differences in mother-daughter relationships between yourself, your mother and your grandmother (time/generation); examining the different approaches to communication exhibited by males and females (gender).

Continuity and Change

Your PIP must demonstrate knowledge and understanding of continuity and change. You may include information about the changes from the past to the present and how it might change in the future. You might consider how people of different generations view the information in your study.

Integrative Skills

The PIP should integrate different aspects of Society and Culture. Integrating means to bring together a number of aspects using a coherent structure. The conclusions of the study should be based on the information found in the introduction as well as the body of the study.

Communications Skills

Your PIP should demonstrate your ability to communicate using social and cultural literacy as well as effective communication to the intended audience.

The “chunk” approach

One of the most important strategies you can apply to the process of putting a PIP together is to view the project as something that can be broken into smaller chunks. A PIP can seem insurmountable unless you realise that small chunks (such as arranging and carrying out an interview) can be achieved within a realistic time frame. Of course, time management skills will help you to achieve the ultimate goal of assembling all the chunks into an integrated whole.

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Features of a good PIP

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Questions

  1. Think of posible topics for your PIP and develop mind maps to explore possibilities for you focus question or hypothesis.
  2. What methodologies might be appropriate to research this topic?
  3. What personal contacts might I already have to begin my research?
  4. Where could I go to find secondary sources of information?

More

The Society and Culture Association journal Culturescope has published a number of articles on the Personal Interest Project.

View examples of past students’ work from previous years either at your school or other schools.

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