by Sebastian Lucumi | staff writer
For the first time ever, the campus is offering AP Seminar. English and Philosophy teacher Julia Whitfield teaches the class.
“AP Seminar is a class offered at Johnson, and is part of the CollegeBoard’s AP Capstone program. It’s the first of a two year program of classes that are focused on interdisciplinary research,” Whitfield said.
The AP Capstone program is divided into two classes, AP Seminar and AP Research, one of which is not yet offered.
“So it’s essentially what you do in college research classes, but at a high school level. So that’s the first year, that’s Seminar, and then second year you have AP Research, which is more focused on individual research and less direct teaching. So, you’re applying what you learned your first year in AP Seminar,” Whitfield said.
AP Seminar is designed for students who are interested in applying the knowledge they learn at school to solve dynamic global problems.
“I’d say those students [are] interested in modern issues. We deal with interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary conflicts but also looking at those issues from different perspectives, and coming up with real world solutions. The ways you look at a problem can be scientific, political, social, philosophical, and using it all to form a presentation. Kids who want to apply what they learn in school. A lot of it is also rhetoric from junior year AP English, so learning how to analyze documents, and understand on a profound level what it is you are reading, whether it’s a little excerpt or a scholarly article,” Whitfield said. “And then also learning what to do with that information, once you have it. Also, students who work independently will do well, because this class gives the student more freedom. If you’re motivated and if you have a good work ethic, like I can teach you what you need to be successful, but if you don’t have the motivation and the work ethic, then I don’t think this class would be best to do.”
AP Seminar’s curriculum is designed to be applicable in any field of research.
“I really see this as a hard class, especially when you’re taking it as a high school student and I see that if you can make through these classes it will make college easier. It’s for, not necessarily those kids who want to be a part of academia, but who want to apply what they’ve learned in school, not to get a simple job, but to solve the real problems of the world. The material that we’re using is student generated, all of the documents and data are student collected, so there’s that aspect of direct teach but also mostly very student generated content,” Whitfield said.
Through the completion of the program, and some other specific requirements, a student could earn the AP Capstone Diploma or the AP Research & Seminar certificate,
“Students who earn scores of 3 or higher in AP Seminar and AP Research and on four additional AP Exams of their choosing receive the AP Capstone Diploma,” Whitfield said.
The diploma or certificate can aid in their college admissions campaign as well, according to The College Board. Universities handle the AP Capstone Program differently in how they view learned skills.
“Depending on the university you go to, they will process it differently- how that information gets used for school. There’s a lot of nuts and bolts, because the first semester is teaching you stuff, but the entire second semester is reviewed by the College Board. We upload individual and team papers, or do individual or team presentations which are recorded and then uploaded to College Board and [are] evaluated by a grader,” Whitfield said, “Plus all that, you take an AP test during AP testing time mainly about argument analysis and rhetoric,” Whitfield said.
The class is designed to complement the other AP classes by showing them how to apply what they’ve learned.
“You are learning a different set of skills in this course. There is a level of sincerity needed in students, but I think it’s neat because it can involve any field of study: politics, english, science, and more. There is nothing you really have to memorize, like in other classes where you have to regurgitate learned information. I’m feeling like once you have some AP classes under your belt, this class takes and applies what you learned in those other classes,” Whitfield said.
Past the desirability of the diploma however, it is recommended that students have a vested interest in learning.
“Ideal students are curious students: if you’re curious about the world around you, if you’re curious about why things work the way they do, if you’re curious about institutions, about how research gets done. Curiosity is key to this class,” Whitfield said.