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Thesis launch: students begin the undergraduate honors thesis process

Description

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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Preparing high school students for transition to community college

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ABSTRACT

Although it is generally acknowledged that a college degree is foundational to achieving success in the 21st century, only 19.5% of those entering public community colleges graduate with an associate's degree within three years (NCES, 2014). Many challenges have

ABSTRACT

Although it is generally acknowledged that a college degree is foundational to achieving success in the 21st century, only 19.5% of those entering public community colleges graduate with an associate's degree within three years (NCES, 2014). Many challenges have impeded students including being underprepared to transition from high school to college, being a first-generation college student, and having limited support networks.

The purpose of this action research project was to implement a college-going readiness program designed to increase the social and personal readiness of high school students making the transition from high school to college. The College Transition Project, the intervention, offered a series of face-to-face class sessions for students and online supplemental materials for students and parents (a) guiding and assisting students in navigating the college system, (b) improving social readiness, and (c) increasing goal setting, time management, communication, and stress management. The curriculum was designed to include key topics including potential pitfalls or challenges common to previously unsuccessful college students. Goal orientation, co-regulation, and self-regulation theories provided frameworks supporting the intervention. Over a five-week period, an instructor taught students who received information on these topics; while students and parents could review online resources at any time.

A concurrent mixed methods research design was employed and data included pre- and post-intervention surveys, field notes, and post-intervention interviews. Results indicated some modest outcomes were attained. Quantitative results indicated no changes in various study measures. By comparison, qualitative data showed students: recognized the usefulness of co-regulation as it related to college preparedness, realized self-regulation efforts would aid their transition to college, and developed some college navigation skills that would facilitate transition to college. Most students acknowledged the need to identify goals, engage in self-regulation, and practice self-efficacy as critical components for students transitioning from high school to college. The discussion explained the outcomes in terms of the theoretical frameworks. Implications focused on additional ways to develop self-efficacy and employ co-regulated activities and relationship building to aid in developing motivation and to nurture emerging identities in students who were transitioning from high school to college.

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Date Created
2017

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Increasing Affinity toward a University through Meaningful Student-Centric Activities

Description

How does a university create a culture of affinity where students seek and maintain life-long connections to the institution? The purpose of this action research study was to examine how affinity increased or developed for undergraduate students at the

How does a university create a culture of affinity where students seek and maintain life-long connections to the institution? The purpose of this action research study was to examine how affinity increased or developed for undergraduate students at the Arizona State University Polytechnic campus through meaningful student-centric activities. Three theoretical frameworks guided the study including the work of Baumeister and Leary, Kuh, and Ajzen.

In this mixed method study, quantitative data about affinity, attitude, toward Arizona State University was collected using pre- and post-intervention surveys and qualitative data were gathered through individual semi-structured interviews at the conclusion of the study. Study participants were degree-seeking, undergraduate students whose degree programs were affiliated with the Polytechnic campus. The study was conducted during the first semester for first-year students. The intervention was implemented over a four-week period and consisted of providing information and opportunities to students to initiate connecting to the institution.

Quantitative data exhibited slight upward changes or slight to modest decreases in the dependent variables between pre- and post-intervention assessments. Qualitative data provided a content-rich explanation that helped in understanding the quantitative results. For example, students indicated high behavioral beliefs, attitudes toward involvement, and intentions. Moreover, they demonstrated high levels of connectedness and loyalty to the institution. Discussion focused on describing the complementarity of the data, explaining outcomes relative to the theoretical frameworks, limitations, implications for practice and future research, and lessons learned.

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Date Created
2019