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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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2019

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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

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Harnessing Emotions: The Impact of Developing Ability Emotional Intelligence Skills on Perceptions of Collaborative Teamwork in a Project-Based Learning Class

Description

The purpose of this action research study was to implement and analyze an intervention designed to improve perceptions of working with others as well as practice and improve emotional tools related to such interactions through the systematic development of ability

The purpose of this action research study was to implement and analyze an intervention designed to improve perceptions of working with others as well as practice and improve emotional tools related to such interactions through the systematic development of ability emotional intelligence (EI) related skills. The present study sought to: (1) explore high school students’ perceptions of their role as part of a team during teamwork; (1a) investigate how perceptions differed by EI level; (2) examine how students’ perceptions of their role in teamwork were influenced by being paired with more advanced (ability EI) peers or less advanced peers, based on ability emotional intelligence test scores; (3) determine if ability emotional intelligence related skills could be developed over the course of a 7-week intervention.

The intervention took place in a 12th grade US Government & Economics classroom with 34 participants for examination of general trends, and 11 focal participants for focused and in-depth analysis. Students were taught about emotion theory and engaged in two weeks of ability emotional intelligence skills training, followed by a five-week project cycle in which students were required to work together to achieve a common goal. The research design was mixed methods convergent parallel. Quantitative data were collected from post- and retrospective pre-intervention surveys regarding student perceptions about working with others and their ability EI related skills. Qualitative data were collected through on-going student reflective journal entries, observational field notes, and interviews with the focal group of participants.

Results suggested the intervention had a significant effect on students’ perceptions of working with others and perceived ability emotional intelligence related skills. Significant positive change was found through quantitative data analysis, revealing students’ perceptions about working with others in teams had improved as a result of the intervention as had their perceptions about their ability EI related skills. Qualitative analysis revealed rich, thick descriptions exploring this shift in perception among the 11 focal students, providing the evidence necessary to support the effectiveness of the intervention. Results suggested the possibilities for improved teamwork in the classroom.

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2019