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Thesis launch: students begin the undergraduate honors thesis process

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Honors colleges have offered an academically rigorous option for growing numbers of diverse students. This study took place at a large, public university that required undergraduate students to complete a thesis to graduate from the honors college. In 2017, 97%

Honors colleges have offered an academically rigorous option for growing numbers of diverse students. This study took place at a large, public university that required undergraduate students to complete a thesis to graduate from the honors college. In 2017, 97% of students who began the honors thesis prior to senior year completed it. Thus, the aim of this study was to help more students begin the honors thesis process early.

Thesis Launch was a six-week intervention that was designed to provide support for students in the critical early steps of thesis work such as brainstorming topics, examining professors’ research interests, reaching out to professors, preparing for meetings with potential thesis committee members, and writing a thesis prospectus. Thesis Launch offered web-based resources, weekly emails and text message reminders, and was supplemented by in-person advising options.

A mixed methods action research study was conducted to examine: (a) students’ perceptions of barriers that prevented beginning thesis work; (b) self-efficacy towards thesis work; (c) how to scale the intervention using technology; and (d) whether participants began the thesis early. Quantitative data was collected via pre- and post-intervention surveys, journals, and prospectus submissions. Qualitative data came from student interviews, journals, and open-ended questions on the surveys.

Quantitative data showed that after students participated in Thesis Launch, they had higher self-efficacy to work with professors, perceived fewer barriers to thesis work, and greater proportions of students began thesis work early. The qualitative data were complementary and showed that participants overcame barriers to thesis initiation, built self-efficacy, preferred an online intervention, and began thesis work early. Findings also showed that a primarily technology-based intervention was preferred by students and showed promise for scaling to a larger audience.

Thesis Launch provided a framework for students to begin work on the honors thesis and have mastery experiences to build self-efficacy. Strategies that fostered “small wins” and reflective efforts also assisted in this aim. Participants accomplished tasks tied to thesis work and customized their personal thesis timelines based on work begun during Thesis Launch. Finally, a discussion of limitations, implications for practice and research, and personal reflection was included.

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Date Created
2019

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An evaluation of business students' perceptions about their personal everyday creativity

Description

With organizations’ rising interest in creativity as one of the most sought out skill sets for graduates, it has become crucial to infuse creativity training in academic programs. This study evaluated freshmen business students’ perceptions about their personal, everyday creativity

With organizations’ rising interest in creativity as one of the most sought out skill sets for graduates, it has become crucial to infuse creativity training in academic programs. This study evaluated freshmen business students’ perceptions about their personal, everyday creativity and examined the influence of infusing creativity training in their freshmen seminar course.

This action research study drew upon the intersection of three creative self-belief theories from management and education psychology literature: Jaussi, et al (2007) Creative Identity Theory; Karwowski (2014) Creative Mindset Theory; and Tierney & Farmer (2002) Creative Self-efficacy Theory. These theories arguably stemmed from Burke (1991) Identity Theory; Dweck (2006) Mindset Theory; and Bandura (1977, 1997) Self-efficacy Theory, respectively. This approach was used to understand what factors influenced students’ perceptions about their personal, everyday creativity.

Freshmen business students participated in the study. A concurrent mixed methods approach was used to gather data from the students. Quantitative data came from a post- and retrospective pre-intervention survey that assessed four constructs: creative identity, creative self-efficacy, growth mindset, and fixed mindset. The data also came from the quantitative section of a post-workshop feedback survey asking to rate the effectiveness of each workshop. Qualitative data were gathered in several ways. Student interviews focused on asking how they defined creativity, shared reasons that motivated or inhibited them to practice creativity, and explained to what extent the workshops influenced them. Additional qualitative data came from student reflection essays and the qualitative section of a post-workshop feedback survey.

Research results suggested students gained an increased understanding in the importance of adopting a growth mindset, designating ‘creative’ as a critical identity and building confidence in their creative endeavors. The students’ interview and reflection essay data were consistent with the survey data. Finally, research results from the study highlighted the benefit of creativity training as a crucial, complementary, and iterative form of study in an academic setting allowing students to know themselves better and to prioritize their creative performances as part of their program learning outcomes.

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Date Created
2019

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Rithöfundursögur or writer sagas: a narrative inquiry of 10th-graders' compositions of agentic writer identity in a choice-rich, self-reflective, and mindset-supportive English class

Description

A sequential mixed-methods action research study was undertaken with a group of 10th-grade students enrolled in a required English course at an independent secondary school. The purpose of the study was to investigate students' negotiation of agentic writer identity in

A sequential mixed-methods action research study was undertaken with a group of 10th-grade students enrolled in a required English course at an independent secondary school. The purpose of the study was to investigate students' negotiation of agentic writer identity in a course that featured a three-strand intervention: (a) a high degree of student choice; (b) ongoing written self-reflection; and (c) ongoing instruction in mindset. The researcher drew on self-determination theory and identity theory to operationalize agentic writer identity around three constructs—behaviors, identity, and belief. A questionnaire was used to identify an array of cases that would illustrate a range of experiences around agentic writer identity. Questionnaire data were analyzed to identify a sample from which to collect qualitative data and to identify prominent central relations among the three constructs, which were further explored in the second stage through the qualitative data. Qualitative data were gathered from a primary group of six students in the form of student journals and interviews around the central constructs of writing belief, writing behavior, and writer identity. Using a snowballing sampling method, four students were added to the sample group to form a second tier of data. The corpus of qualitative data from all 10 students was coded and analyzed using the technique of re-storying to produce a narrative interpretation, in the style of the Norse saga, of students' engagement in agentic writing behaviors, espousal of agentic writing beliefs, and construction of agentic writer identities. A defense of the chosen narrative approach and genre was provided. Interpretation of the re-storied data was provided, including discussion of interaction among themes that emerged from the data and the re-storying process. Emergent themes and phenomena from the re-storied data were realigned with the quantitative data as well as with the constructs that informed the survey design and sampling. Implications for classroom teachers, as well as suggestions for further research, were suggested.

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2017