AP Seminar (10th or 11th Grade)

The first year of the AP Capstone program features an Interdisciplinary Investigations and Critical Reasoning Seminar in which a specific topic or issue of cultural relevance is presented to students. With this topic as the centerpiece of class discourse, students learn to employ critical thinking skills such as analysis, synthesis, differentiation, and interpretation—to name a few—and engage in collaborative teamwork and project-based learning. (Students are required to take an AP exam upon conclusion of this course).

AP Seminar is a foundational course that engages students in cross-curricular conversations that explore the complexities of academic and real-world topics and issues by analyzing divergent perspectives. Using an inquiry framework, students practice reading and analyzing articles, research studies, and foundational literary and philosophical texts; listening to and viewing speeches, broadcasts, and personal accounts; and experiencing artistic works and performances. Students learn to synthesize information from multiple sources, develop their own perspectives in research-based written essays, and design and deliver oral and visual presentations, both individually and as part of a team. Ultimately, the course aims to equip students with the power to analyze and evaluate information with accuracy and precision in order to craft and communicate evidence-based arguments.

AP Seminar Course Content

Students will engage in conversations about complex academic and real-world issues through a variety of lenses, considering multiple points of view. The instructor will choose one or more appropriate themes that will facilitate interdisciplinary exploration based on:

  • Concepts or issues from other AP courses
  • Student interests
  • Local and/or civic issues
  • Academic problems or questions
  • Global or international topics

Students will explore different points of view and make connections across disciplines. These are fundamental components of the AP Seminar experience. Students will consider each topic through a variety of lenses and from multiple perspectives, many of which are divergent or competing. Analyzing topics through multiple lenses will aid you in interdisciplinary understanding and will help you gain a rich appreciation for the complexity of important issues. Students will be encouraged to explore a topic/units through several of the following lenses:

  • Cultural and social
  • Artistic and philosophical
  • Political and historical
  • Environmental
  • Economic
  • Scientific
  • Futuristic
  • Ethical

Pedagogical Framework

Throughout the program, students will consider and evaluate multiple points of view to develop your own perspectives on complex issues and topics through inquiry and investigation. The AP Capstone program will provide students with a framework that will allow them to develop, practice, and hone their critical and creative thinking skills as they make connections between various issues and their own lives.

Students will use the below framework as they explore issues and topics:

  • Question and Explore
  • Understand and Analyze Arguments
  • Evaluate Multiple Perspectives
  • Synthesize Ideas
  • Team, Transform, and Transmit

AP Seminar Assessment Information

Students will be assessed with two through-course performance assessment tasks and one end-of-course exam. All three assessments are summative and will be used to calculate a final AP score (using the 1–5 scale) for AP Seminar.

Format of Assessment

Team Project and Presentation 25% of AP Score

  • Individual Research and Reflection (research 1 200 words/ reflection 800 words – 25% of 25%)
  • Team Multimedia Presentation and Defense (8-10 minutes / 25% of 25%)

Individual Research-Based Essay and Presentation 35% of AP Score

  • Individual Written Argument (2 000 words / 60% of 35%)
  • Individual Multimedia Presentation (6-8 minutes / 30% of 35%)
  • Oral Defense (2 questions / 10% of 35%)

End-of-Course Exam (2 Hours) 40% of AP Score

  • Section I – Understanding and analyzing an argument (3 short-answer questions) 30% of 40%
  • Evaluating and comparing the effectiveness of arguments (essay) 30% of 40% (90 minutes)
  • Section II – Synthesizing information to develop an evidence-based argument essay (evidence-based argument essay 90 minutes) 40% of 40%

Overview of Assessment Tasks

Team Project and Presentation

In this project, students in groups of three to six will collaborate as a team to identify an academic or real-world problem, question, or issue (e.g., local, national, global, academic/theoretical/philosophical) and conduct initial research. Students will then identify approaches, perspectives, or lenses and divide responsibilities among group members for individual research.

Individually, students investigate an approach, perspective, or lens on the problem, question, or issue. Each student presents their findings and analysis to the group in an individual report that

  • Identifies the area of investigation and its relationship to the overall problem, question, or issue;
  • Explains and summarizes the range of information and perspectives considered and the relevance of that information to the problem, question, or issue;
  • Describes and analyzes the line of reasoning and evidence of the information collected;
  • Justifies the inclusion and exclusion of information advanced to the team; and
  • Cites and attributes any information included.

Working collaboratively, each team will consider all the research and analyses from individual team members for the purpose of proposing or creating a solution, conclusion, or recommendation. Together, the team prepares a written report that

  • Introduces, situates, contextualizes, and/or explains the problem, question, or issue;
  • Evaluates various perspectives;
  • Synthesizes evidence;
  • Proposes a solution, conclusion, or recommendation to theproblem, question, or issue; and
  • Appropriately appropriately acknowledges, attributes, and/or cites the ideasand work of others.

The final report must include a bibliography or list of works cited.

The team will develop an 8–10 minute presentation and deliver it to the class using appropriate media. The presentation should reflect the major components of the written team report. Following the presentation, the team will defend its argument, with each of you responding to a question posed by the instructor. 

Individual Research-Based Essay and Presentation

In early second semester, the College Board will release academic, cross-curricular source materials focused on a theme representing a range of perspectives from each of the following domains:

  • Natural Sciences,Technology, Mathematics, Environment
  • Social Sciences, Politics, Economics, Psychology
  • Arts (Visual Arts, Music, Dance,Theater)
  • Culture, Languages, Linguistics
  • History
  • Literature, Philosophy, Critical Theory/Criticism

The following will be represented in the texts:

  • Visual text and/or multimedia
  • Quantitative data

Students will identify a research question of their own based on the source material. Students will then gather additional information through research; analyze, evaluate, and select evidence; and develop a logical, well-reasoned argument of approximately 2,000 words.  The final paper must refer to and incorporate at least one of the sources provided.

Students must avoid plagiarism by acknowledging, attributing and citing sources throughout the paper, and including a bibliography.

Each student will develop a 6–8 minute presentation using appropriate media and present it to an audience. This presentation is an opportunity for students to present their conclusions by building arguments that convey their unique perspectives. The presentations should use the evidence to support student-developed arguments and situate individual perspectives in their larger contexts rather than merely summarizing research. Finally, students must defend their research process, use of evidence, and conclusion through oral responses to two questions asked by the instructor.

End-of-Course Exam

During the AP Exam administration window, students will take the AP Seminar End-of-Course Exam. The exam consists of five items (three short-answer and two essay questions). The three short-answer questions assess analysis of an argument in a single source or document. The first essay question requires students to perform a close reading of two documents and perform a comparative analysis and evaluation of the authors’ arguments. The second essay question assesses skills in synthesizing and creating an evidence-based argument.

AP Seminar Credit

The Anchorage School District offers either a weighted English credit or a weighted elective credit for AP Seminar.

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