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San Jose Campus, Swisher Library: Halloran & Moody / AP Seminar

The Bolles School San Jose Campus Swisher Library

What is AP Seminar?

What is AP Seminar?

Unlike traditional year-long classes, Seminar does not follow a lecture / memorize / exam model.   Students are taught skills necessary to complete the required College Board Performance Tasks that include group research projects, individual written arguments, and oral presentations.  Students should expect to take deep dives into exploring real-world topics of their own choosing, critically evaluate wide ranges of information, write academic arguments and papers, and present and defend their projects.   Students are assessed through team project and presentation, an individual written essay and presentation, and a written exam.  See the QUEST model below for more information. 

What should successful Seminar students expect?

  • Ability to peer review classmates papers and provide substantive feedback directly to your peers; students are expected to provide honest, constructive and meaningful feedback to their peers work.  
  • Ability to listen to and incorporate peer feedback; students are required to make significant changes to their projects as a direct result of peer feedback received.  
  • A critical thinking and problem solving mindset;  students should expect to make claims, formulate solutions and be willing to explain or take positions on their work.  
  • Group work and presentation skills; students are expected to work in groups as well as individually, and to explain and defend their work to other groups.  

The Seminar QUEST model


Questioning begins with an initial exploration of complex topics or issues. Perspectives and questions emerge that spark one’s curiosity, leading to an investigation that challenges and expands the boundaries of one’s current knowledge. 

  • Contextualizing and identifying the complexities of a problem or issue
  • Posing questions and seeking out answers that reflect multiple, divergent or contradictory perspectives
  • Retrieving, questioning, organizing and using prior knowledge about a topic
  • Accessing and managing information using effective strategies
  • Evaluating the relevance and credibility of the source of information and data in relation to the inquiry
  • Identifying the information needed for the context of the inquiry

Understanding various perspectives requires contextualizing arguments and evaluating the authors’ claims and lines of reasoning.   

  • Employing appropriate reading strategies and reading critically for a specific purpose
  • Summarizing and explaining a text's main idea or aim while avoiding faculty generalizations and over simplilfication
  • Explaining and analyzing the logic and line of reasoning of an argument 
  • Evaluating the relevance and credibility of evidence used to support an argument, taking context into consideration
  • Evaluating the validity of an argument
  • Connecting an argument to broader issues by examining the implications of the author's claim
  • Evaluating porential resolutions, conclusions or solutions to problems or issues raised by an argument

Evaluating an issue involves considering and evaluating multiple perspectives, both individually and in comparison to one another.

People express ideas, perspectives, evidence and conclusions using arguments.   Students must evaluate arguments by considering the claims and evidence made by the author or source.    Students must also consider the point of view, perspective, credibility and reasoning of the argument before fully analyzing and evaluating the types of information they are presented.  

  • Identifying, comparing, and interpreting multiple perspectives on or arguments about an issue
  • Evaluating objections, implications and limitations of alternate, opposing or competing perspectives or arguments

Synthesizing others ideas with one’s own may lead to new understandings and is the foundation of a well-reasoned argument that conveys perspective.  Seminar uses eight lenses to consider perspectives and make cross-curricular connections. 


  • Formulating a well-reasoned argument, taking the complexities of the problem or issue into consideration
  • Interpreting, using, and synthesizing qualitative and/or quantitative data/information from various perspectives and sources to develop and support an argument
  • Providing insightful and cognet commentary that links evidence with claims
  • Attributing knowledge and ideas accurately and ethically, using an appropriate citation style
  • Extending an idea, question, process, or product to innovate or create new understandings
  • Offering resolutions, conclusions, and/or solutions based on evidence considering limitations and implications

Teaming allows one to combine personal strengths and talents with those of others to reach a common goal. Transformation and growth occur upon thoughtful reflection. Transmitting requires the adaptation of one’s message based on audience and context.  

  • Planning and producing a cohesive academic paper, considering audience, context and purpose
  • Adhering to established conventions of grammar, usage, style and mechanics
  • Communicating information through appropriate media using effective techniques of design
  • Adapting an argument for context, purpose and/or audience
  • Engaging an audience by employing effective techniques of delivery or performance
  • Providing individual contributions to overall collaborative effort to accomplish a task or goal
  • Fostering constructive team climate, resolving conflicts, and facilitating the contributions of all team members to address complex open-ended problems
  • Reflecting on and revising their own writing, thinking and creative processes
  • Reflecting on experiences of collaborative effort

Link to AP Digital Portfolio