Concentrators seeking to graduate with honors must apply to write a Senior Thesis during their sixth semester and be approved, maintain a minimum grade average that includes more A’s than B’s, and most importantly research and write an original Senior Thesis that meets or exceeds the standards established in the Department Rubric. Honors are awarded on the basis of thesis quality. Writing a thesis does not guarantee that a student will receive honors. At the same time, students may elect to write a Senior Thesis and receive course credit even if they do not qualify for honors so long as they follow the procedures below.
Process for Writing a Senior Thesis
1. Students apply to write a thesis at the end of their sixth semester. They must secure a Thesis Adviser, develop a research question and a plan to investigate it in consultation with this adviser, and submit the application form to the Department Honors Adviser by the deadline in early May. Students will be notified within two weeks whether their proposal has been approved, denied, or provisionally approved. In the event of a provisional approval, students will have to further develop their research proposal and re-submit an application by September 15 of their senior year.
2. In fall of senior year, students enroll in EDUC 1990 for credit with their Thesis Adviser and meet regularly with that adviser (every week or every other week) as they research and begin writing the thesis. The student and adviser should develop a work plan and timetable from the outset (see recommended timetable below) and file it with the Honors Adviser by October 1. Students should also meet with other faculty with expertise in their topic, research methods, and/or scholarly literatures for advice and feedback.
3. At the end of fall semester, students must submit a progress report to the Honors Adviser signed by their Thesis Adviser that details their progress on the thesis, including the research they have undertaken, their preliminary findings, the work they have left to do and plan for completing it, and any challenges they have encountered. A meeting with the Honors Adviser may also be required.
4. In spring semester, students will enroll in Ed 1991 for credit with their Thesis Adviser and continue to meet regularly. It is recommended that students submit preliminary drafts for feedback to their Thesis Adviser and build in time for significant revision before the final thesis is due.
5. The Senior Thesis is due the second Friday in April. The thesis will be evaluated according to the Department Rubric by the Thesis Adviser and by one other faculty member chosen by the Honors Adviser for their expertise. If these faculty members recommend Honors and all other requirements are met (more A’s than B’s, all concentration requirements satisfied), students will receive Honors in the concentration. They will be notified in the first week of May.
6. Students are invited and encouraged to share their research by presenting their thesis to Education department faculty, fellow students, friends and families in May.
Begin thinking about a research topic. Choose courses and/or design an independent study that helps you to build the knowledge and skills to undertake a senior thesis and introduce you to faculty with whom you might want to work. If you haven’t already done so, take a methodology course.
Work to transform a research topic into a research question. Start reading the scholarly literature around your topic/research question. Approach a professor to be your Thesis Adviser and work out a research plan. If your project requires IRB approval, begin the process.
By Friday of the first week of May
Submit your application to write a senior thesis to the Honors Adviser with a strong research plan, a preliminary bibliography, transcript, and the signature of your adviser.
Over the summer
Conduct your literature review and refine your research plan. If you are able, identify and begin working with your data. Secure IRB approval.
Meet with your Thesis Adviser and develop a work plan and timetable for the year, working backward from the due date. Create a tentative outline and plan a schedule for writing that builds in substantial time for multiple revisions. Submit a copy of this work plan to the Honors Adviser by the end of the month.
Conduct research and meet regularly with your Thesis Adviser (every week or every other week) to discuss your progress. Start writing!
Continue research and submit a draft to your Thesis Adviser of chapter 1 and/or the literature review. Submit a progress report to the Honors Adviser.
Research, data analysis, and writing! Submit a draft of chapter 2 to your Thesis Adviser by the end of the month.
Finish research and analysis and submit chapter 3 to your Thesis Adviser by the end of the month.
Revise chapters according to your Thesis Adviser’s feedback and produce a penultimate draft, including introduction and conclusion, by the end of the month for final feedback from the Thesis Adviser.
First two weeks of April
Finish final revisions on the thesis and submit an electronic copy to the Education Department by noon on the second Friday of April and a bound hard copy within the next week.
Last half of April
The thesis is evaluated by two faculty members, your Thesis Adviser and one additional faculty member chosen by the Honors Adviser based on expertise. The readers submit a written evaluation and determine whether to award honors.
Thesis presentations to the Education Department faculty and students. Friends and family are invited to attend.
Sample Thesis Titles:
1. Reframing the “Does Money Matter?” Debate: A Look at Spending on Professional Development and Non-Cognitive Outcomes
2. Teaching and Learning Social Justice: Potential Pitfalls of “Consciousness Raising”
3. “To Fix a Broken City:” Home Rule and the Origins of School Choice in Washington, D.C.
4. To Intervene Or Not To Intervene: Supporting Preschoolers’ Social Play in a Public Setting
5. The Interaction and Integration of Schooling and Psychotherapy Perspectives on Adult-Child Relationships in Children 18-60 Months
6. Contemplative Practices in K-12 Education: Theory, Research, Action
7. Beyond 1968 and Below the Equator: A Comparison of Student Movements in Argentina and the United States from 1966 to 1976
8. Exploring the Educational Pathways of Teen Mothers: Understanding Young Women’s Perceptions and Navigations of School and Motherhood In Urban Rhode Island
9. Relationships in Transformation: A Study of Teacher Buy-In to Turnaround Efforts at Central Falls High School, Rhode Island
10. Refugee Parental Involvement in Providence, Rhode Island: Opportunities and Obstacles
11. Balancing School Desegregation and School Improvement: A Study of the Remedies in Scheff v. O’Neill in Hartford, Connecticut
12. A History of the Free School Movement
13. Are Full Service Schools Serving or Motivating?: An Investigation into Teacher Commitment and Participation at Two Full Service Schools
14. In Thirty Miles and Thirty Months: A Comparison of the 1968 Black Student Walkout at Brown University and the 1971 Administration Building Takeover at the University of Rhode Island.