Assistance on Senior Thesis

 

Tutee: senior working on thesis; too many ideas, too broad, need a focus

Tutor: help narrow your ideas; condense important info

Goal: smaller goal, know which steps to start taking

 

Assistance on Senior Thesis

            A student came in with a 10-page draft of her senior thesis proposal, on sociology, and needs help with narrowing down the focus of her paper. The first challenge is to clarify the direction of research and ideas. The second challenge is that the tutor is unfamiliar with the tutee’s field of research. The third challenge is that the tutor has not experienced a thesis project.

The tutee came in knowing what struggles she wanted to address. The tutee seeks suggestions on how to narrow down ideas so as to better explore nuances in her research. The tutor asks the tutee to explain the theoretical framework and how that relates to the thesis topics, so she can have a basic understanding of the thesis project. After explaining, the best course of action is to examine the thesis statement, as this is the blueprint of the paper. Here, ideas can be introduced and condensed effectively to guide the rest of the work.

The tutor asks what motivates the tutee to choose specific topics to study, prompting an opportunity for the tutee to explain the multiple aspects of her thesis statement. The tutee proceeds to explain her personal connection to the research and justifies her thesis, while unknowingly leaning more towards one specific idea than another. Tutor discerns and points this out to the tutee, suggesting that she focus solely on the topic she has expressed the most interest in. However, the tutee expresses that both aspects interest her; she has difficulty detaching herself from any one idea, as she has significant academic investment in each area.

As a compromise, the tutor recommends that the tutee shift the bulk of her attention to the first topic while keeping the second one in the back of her mind so that it is not completely eliminated from the paper. The tutee recalls her writing process, in which it was hard to find empirical data and academic resources on the second aspect. Through the discussion, the tutor and the tutee mutually agree with adding the second aspect into the “future research” section.

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