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The 6 Elements of an ISP

*Note* BE SURE that "The 6 Elements of an ISP" are addressed in the "Proposal" box of your online ISP Proposal.


Remember that both your ISP proposal and your final evaluation should demonstrate your ability to write clearly so that others can understand what you mean. These documents will be retained in your permanent academic record at Fairhaven College.

1. Description:

Objectives and Related Issues: You must be able to present a concise statement of what you plan to do, what expectations and objectives these plans are intended to fulfill, and what problems, major issues, and fundamental questions you expect to encounter in pursuit of your study.

What do you plan to do and how do you plan to do it?
What are your objectives in undertaking this study?
What do you hope to learn? What questions do you wish the study to address? What problems, issues, and complexities do you expect to confront?
If there is any controversy concerning this area or approach to the study, how do you expect to address such controversy?
What problems(s) do you intend to explore?
What questions will guide this exploration?
Can you describe your present position regarding these problems, these questions?

2. Qualifications:

Generally, readiness to undertake the ISP implies some background, preparation, knowledge or experience in the area or related areas to be studied. However, exploratory ISPs may be undertaken for which you have little or no specific background; in such instances, you should take special care to identify appropriate resources.


What background, knowledge, preparation or special abilities do you possess that will help you in undertaking this project: include books read, courses taken, experiences outside of school.

3. Resources:

It is the responsibility of the student to seek and access adequate resources to undertake the project. These may include a bibliography, other institutions, faculty at Fairhaven or elsewhere, other knowledgeable or skilled persons.


What sources and resources do you intend to use, including:

  • Bibliography
  • Faculty at Fairhaven and else where
  • Other institutions and agencies
  • Other knowledgeable or skilled persons?

    Beyond specifics:
  • Where and how do you plan to track down further resources?
  • What are the first books/resources you plan to use?
  • Which do you think are likely to be the most important?
  • If you are uncertain where to begin, how will you find out?
  • What background, skills, or special information do you have and/or will you need?
  • Is there anyone at Fairhaven or Western whom you might find helpful? Elsewhere?
  • If this study takes you off campus, where might that be and why?
  • Will you need any help making contacts, locating resources?

4. Demonstration of Learning:

The study must involve a demonstration of the learning accomplished, to be made available to the sponsor—and, if desired, to a larger audience—in some concrete, accessible form. Such might include a critical or analytical paper, a work of art or creative writing, some experimental data and conclusions, a public performance, an examination or oral interview, and the like. This demonstration will serve as one basis for the sponsor’s evaluation.

In what way do you plan to keep track of and demonstrate your learning?

What arrangement should you make with your sponsor for reporting the progress of your work?

Is the product you’ve chosen appropriate to the level and sophistication of the proposal?

5. Evaluation:

Upon finishing the project, you will complete a written evaluation of it for your sponsor. This should include evaluation of the extent to which the intentions stated in the original proposal were realized, the issues addressed and the important questions answered. It will assess developments undertaken during the course of the study according to their educational value. It will discuss the meaning and the value of what was learned (whereas the demonstration of learning will state or reveal what was learned). Upon receipt of your evaluation, the faculty sponsor will write an evaluation of the project, assess your learning through it, and determine and assign credit.


  • By what criteria will you evaluate your work?
  • What will be the focus of your evaluation?
  • If your objectives changed during this study, what triggered the change?
  • Give some account of the major questions, problems, ideas and personal insight that were encountered.
  • What books/resources/people did you find most useful?
  • What problems, personal and/or academic, did you discover, and how do you think they could be amended or evaded the next time around (or should they be)?
  • Can you say what implications this experience might have for your future plans?

6. Expectations of Faculty Sponsor

Describe what you and your faculty sponsor have agreed to regarding your expectations in relation to this ISP.