Currently viewing the tag: "thesis"

Every year, Fletcher students are invited to submit their Capstone Projects to the Tufts Digital Library’s E-Scholarship collection.  The 2014 collection hasn’t been posted yet, but there’s certainly no shortage of reading material.  Most of the submissions are traditional theses, but I’m sure that, over time, we’ll be seeing some Capstones in different formats.

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The Fletcher faculty has made some changes to what used to be the thesis requirement for all degree programs.  Going forward, the requirement will be for the production of a capstone project.  For some students (and their professors), this represents no change whatsoever.  They arrived at Fletcher looking forward to writing a traditional academic thesis, and that’s what they’re going to do.  For other students, this marks a welcome change.  In some fields, a thesis is not the project format that best lends itself to the presentation of two year’s worth of learning.  Here’s a little of the email Academic Dean Peter Uvin sent to students to explain the change.  (Note that this was an email sent directly to students, not an official document, hence the casual language.)  He starts by saying that, in fact, little (beyond the name of the project) has changed.

First, all degree programs always had to write a thesis, which was understood to be a traditional research project.  Now we are changing that title a bit (“capstone project”) and we are giving students more flexibility in terms of their final academic piece of work.  Over the years, many students have found the research thesis a very useful and rewarding experience, and they can continue to do this with all the professors at Fletcher.  But other students have felt that a thesis was not a particularly useful exercise, given what they would be doing after Fletcher.  We now officially allow for a broader range of choices to accommodate those students.

Second, students used to develop their thesis topics in many different ways, and this will also continue, though we will be more explicit about the need to associate the thesis writing with a course credit.  Here are the choices for how a capstone project can be developed:

◊   Students can continue to build their capstone project off a course paper;
◊   A number of professors have decided that their courses are set up in such a way that their required final product is really an excellent preparation for the capstone project. This may be because they offer a lot of methodology, or because they require a product that is very labor intensive, or because they help students develop research proposals, etc.  Those classes will now be called “incubator courses.”  Students are not obliged to take incubator courses for their capstone projects; it is simply an option.  Also: you can take these courses even if you do not want to write your capstone project through them!
◊   Students can also continue to use an independent study in order to write their capstone project.
◊   Often professors look for student assistance with research projects.  The innovation here is that we encourage professors and students who work together in this way to use that work as the basis for the capstone project.

This is all new and a work in progress. It is important to have clear discussions with your capstone supervisors to understand exactly what s/he will be looking for.  Some are going to be traditional and only want an academic thesis, whereas others are thrilled to be able to accept something else.  Some see their courses as incubators, whereas others do not.  Just talk to them.  It will all work out.  This is designed to make life more flexible and easier—not more stressful!

Our current second-year students will be the pioneers for the Capstone Projects, and I look forward to hearing about some innovative project formats.

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There’s a lot going on in Admissions this week.  Most of our admitted students need to make their enrollment decisions by tomorrow, April 20, and there has been a pretty steady stream of last-minute questions.  (How do I put together my dual degree?…Can you send me my GAMS password?…What’s your suggestion for housing?…)  By Monday, we’ll know what about 80% of the entering class will look like.  (I’m making that number up — but I think it’s about right.)

Meanwhile, continuing students are submitting their applications for scholarship renewal.  They also have many last-minute questions.  The forms are due this afternoon, so I know the office will be hoppin’ at about 4:00.

Which leaves me depending on others to create interesting blog content for me.  And combing through my inbox, I found something.  Students have compiled a list of thesis topics, along with faculty advisor, keywords, and the students’ Fields of Study.  The list contains only a portion of the theses that will be submitted this spring, but I think it provides a nice snapshot of the broad range of topics and formats.

Here’s a sample of the list:

For the full list, click here.

If you’re interested in learning more about the professors who advised a student on a specific topic, you can find them all on our website.

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The next deadline that I’ve been hearing about has nothing much to do with the Admissions Office.  This time, it’s students who are racing against the clock.  Second-year MALD and MIB students must submit their theses by tomorrow, February 15.  All Fletcher students write a thesis as a way of wrapping their coursework together and linking to their future careers.  (Those in one-year programs (the MA and the LLM) have a few extra months to complete it.)  The topic and format is up to the student and his or her advisor, and the diversity of student interests ensures there’s a wild range of topics.

In the lead-up to the deadline, Fletcher students behaved as Fletcher students do, and found a way to support each other by creating “Thesis Fridays.”  An invitation went out to the thesis-writing community:

Thesis Fridays are now officially scheduled for the rest of the semester.  Thesis Fridays are when we sit around in a room in Cabot basement and work on our theses (or whatever).  That’s all.  Sometimes we chat about them, and sometimes people get questions answered or make lucrative proofreading deals.  Sometimes we chat about other things, but we try to minimize that.  There’s nothing formal about it, but it’s a great way to get your butt in a chair for dedicated work time. Plus, misery/creativity loves company!  Just keep repeating:  Everything will be fine when I write my Master’s thesis….

I asked one of the co-creators, Rachel, to tell me more.  She said that she and another student who graduated in December came up with the idea last semester.  “We had a core group of about six or seven of us throughout the fall, sometimes up to 10 or 12. There are more this semester, since it’s (past) crunch time. I’ve definitely made a few new friends and practiced my pumpkin-bread-baking skills because of it.  :)

Pumpkin bread isn’t the only potential caloric result of thesis productivity.  Students who submit their thesis one day early (i.e. today, Valentine’s Day) have been told, “Nothing says ‘I love you’ more than by submitting your thesis a bit early on Valentine’s Day.  So beat the rush, ahead of those getting it in on the deadline of February 15.  In return, the Registrar’s Office will show a bit of our love with some chocolate treats.”

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