Thesis Seminar

Thesis Manuscript Template (Video)

Thesis Seminar Weekly Roundup

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Thesis Seminar Weekly Roundup

Hashtags: #tesol #tefl #appliedlinguistics #linguistics #research

As we conclude week two of thesis seminar, we want to begin looking at aligning our thesis statement with our research questions.  Some of you have already completed your literature review from last semester's academic writing course; so for you, it's a matter looking at the last sentence of your introduction paragraph, where your thesis statement should reside, and verifying if this one single sentence answers your research questions.  Your research questions will be introduced in the final paragraph of your literature review, just before the Method section. For those of you who are starting your literature review from scratch, begin writing your thesis statement and research questions in the same way...the only difference is that you will not have a completed literature review to separate the two.

For those who have a completed lit. review, note the main idea from each paragraph that makes your completed lit. review.  If you are developing your lit. review, simply write out the main idea that later will become a developed paragraph.  For both, list these topic sentences in the order in which you plan to organize your premises/claims.  Refer to my video tutorial from last week for details regarding premises and claims.

Once you are content with the order of your topics sentences, then begin either moving your completed paragraphs or begin developing each paragraph around the respective topic sentence.  Typically the topic sentence, I have found, is the most difficult sentence of a fully-developed body paragraph.  We'll discuss body paragraph development in a subsequent tutorial.

This exercise does two things: it forces you to develop coherent topic sentences for each body paragraph and it also forces you to take a macro view of your work to take sure that your ideas follow a logical order.  When you organize your topic sentences, also make sure to remove any headings that you might have.  I have found that sometimes headings are not clearly representative of the content (text) it represents.  If this is the case (or you are not sure), removing the headings when organizing your topic sentences can help.

For week three, follow the process as described above and contact me when you would like for me to review your work.  Let's review...


  1. Based on your annotated bibliography and a concise researchable problem, develop and align a clear thesis statement and set of research questions.
  2. Organize topic sentences in a logical fashion that creates an overall argument or position that directly and explicitly supports the thesis statement.
  3. Move or develop body paragraphs for each topic sentence.
  4. Add (back) headings as necessary, making sure that typically you have more than one paragraph for each heading.


Remember that the last paragraph of your literature review should transition from the theoretical framework to the specifics of the actual study.  Your transitional paragraph might include the following...

Restate and reword your thesis statement within the context of the researchable problem.
State the purpose of your research.
Introduce your research questions.
Finish with a closing sentence.

Continue working this week on your literature review while you continue reflecting on the specifics of your own research.  As you complete your literature review make sure the thesis statement aligns with your preliminary ideas that you currently have about your method section: participants, instruments, and procedure.

Make sure you contact me if you become frustrated or are not sure how to proceed and I look forward to seeing your work!

Narrowing down a research topic




Narrowing down a research topic

Selecting a topic (handout): Move from an everyday problem that you would like to investigate (stage 1) to defining a specific subject, perspective, and vantage point that defines your research topic (stage 2).  The final stage (stage 3) is to remove yourself from the personal domain of refining the topic of interest to the formal world of academia.  In this final stage, switch from everyday language to technical terminology used in a particular academic discipline (e.g., applied linguistics). See list of possible research topics in applied linguistics below as a guide. Source: The Literature Review

Merge your topic with an area of linguistic focus: a) individual skills (i.e., reading, writing, listening, speaking), b) grammar, c) vocabulary, d) or some combination of the aforementioned (e.g., reading and writing, listening and speaking, speaking and vocabulary, etc.). 

Moving from a topic to questions (Booth, Colomb, & Williams, 2008

Brainstorm a set of questions from a variety of perspectives, beginning with asking who, what, when, where, but focusing on how, and why.  Then continue brainstorming through the following types of questions:
  • Topic history

    • Ask questions about developmental context.  How has this problem, technique, method, material, etc. changed over the years?  Why has it changed over the years? etc. 
  • Structure and composition

    • How does your topic relate to a bigger context?  What is the composition of your topic?  How do the pieces fit together?
  • Categorization

    • How can your topic be grouped together?  How does your topic compare and contrast with topics within the same or similar category.
  • Positive to negative questions

    • Turn positive questions to negative questions.  Why have wikis not become a prevalent web tool in today's language classroom?
  • What if... questions
    • What if all language teachers had to use wikis with their learners?
  • Questions from sources
    • Search primary research articles and find questions for further research.  Or tailor research questions from primary research articles to local research topic interests.  Find questions from outside sources that allow you to fill the literature gap so that what you investigate adds to the body of knowledge that currently makes up the field.

Moving from questions to a problem

To move a question to its significance, try using the following prompts:
  • I wish to learn more about...(a topic).
Here are some examples with key words (nouns deriving from verbs) italicized...
  • I am studying teachers' beliefs about formative assessments and related teaching techniques.
  • I am working on why students are reluctant to speak English in class.
  • I am trying to learn about teaching covert grammar and how students feel about different related teaching techniques.
Add an indirect question (in bold) to your topic to indicate what you don't know or would like to understand better...
  • Example: I wish to learn more about _________ because I want to find out who/what/when/where/whether/why/how _________.

  • I am studying teachers' beliefs about formative assessment because I want to find out how students feel about related teaching techniques

  • I am working on why students are reluctant to speak English in class because I want to find out what authentic materials I might use to promote better interaction among students

  • etc.
Build research questions specifically around the indirect question (bold text) that you have created above.

So what?

Your topic must be interesting to you, the researcher, but must also be interesting to others in the field.  Add to your topic and indirect question the significance of your research.
  • Example: I wish to learn more about __________ because I want to find out who/what/when/where/whether/why/how _________ in order to __________.

  • I am studying teachers' beliefs about formative assessment because I want to find out how students feel about related teaching techniques in order to demonstrate the role of formative assessment in the English language classroom. 

  • I am working on why students are reluctant to speak English in class because I want to find out what authentic materials I might use to promote better interaction among students in order to place less emphasis on the coursebook as a syllabus

  • etc.
Moving from a topic to questions involves a three-part process: 1) stating what you want to learn more about, 2) tagging an indirect question to your topic (beginning with a because clause), and 3) concluding with the significance of your research (an in order to clause).

Moving from questions to a problem

Reflect on your topic-to-question statement:
  • Topic: I wish to learn more about...

  • Question: because I want to find out what/why/how etc....

  • Significance: (Reflect on the reader's point of view.): in order to...
First, distinguish between a practical problem and a research problem...
  • Practical problem: Students are afraid to speak in class.

  • Research problem: How can I provide feedback to students in such a way that they feel more confident to speak English with their peers?

  • Research solution:  Provide individual feedback when requested during the task, and group feedback once the task has been completed.

  • Practical solution:  Avoid overcorrection or providing too much feedback to students.
A problem consists of a condition and a cost or consequence.
  • (topic) I am studying teacher feedback (question #1 & condition) because I want to find out when giving feedback allows students to feel more confident when speaking L2 with their peers (significance, question #2, & cost or consequence in order to answer the bigger question of how teacher intervention can either promote or discourage student's oral production in class.
The first question (the condition) helps answer the second question (the cost or consequence).

Example: Knowing when to give feedback that allows students to feel more confident when speaking with their peers (question #1 or condition) addresses the bigger question of how teacher intervention can either promote or discourage student's oral production in class (question #2 or cost/consequence). 

Here are additional tips when searching for a problem to research:
  • Ask teachers, students, administrators, and other experts in the field about problems they face related to teaching and learning an additional language.

  • Search primary research articles for related problems to find relevant examples.

  • Begin with a problem at the onset of your research, but understand that research problems may morph or emerge in different forms as one conducts a study.

Unit of Analysis

Lesson 1-5 Units of analysis
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Possible Research Topics in Applied Linguistics 
  • Grammar
      • Overt/cover
      • Implicit/explicit
      • Chomsky's Universal Grammar

  • Bilingual education

  • Classroom discourse

  • Corpus linguistics

  • Cognitive linguistics

  • Discourse analysis
    • Grice and Implicatures (part 1part 2, & part 3)
    • L1 use in language teaching
    • L2 transfer
    • Learner autonomy
    • Interactive/collaboraitve language learning.
    • Task-based learning
    • Problem-based learning
    • Performance-based learning
    • Language learning strategies
  • Language exchanges

  • English for Academic Purposes
  • English for Specific Purposes
  • Generative grammar
  • Chomsky's Universal Grammar
  • Innatism
  • Krashen's monitor model
  • Language and culture
  • Language and Gender
  • Language and Identity
  • Language Emergence as a complex adaptive system
  • Language learning and technology
  • Language teacher education
  • Professional development or professional learning among (English language), in-service educators
  • Professional development or professional learning among (English language), pre-service educators
  • Language testing
    • Formative assessment in the language classroom
    • Formative vs. summative assessment in the language classroom
    • Dynamic assessment in the language classroom
    • Language exchanges
    • Task-based learning
    • Problem-based learning
    • Performance-based learning

  • Lexis
  • Linguistic Imperialism
  • Multilingualism
  • Phonetics and phonology
  • Systemic functional linguistics
  • Multimodality
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Sociocultural theories
  • Sociolinguistics
    • Motivation
  • Translation

Additional reading

Six steps for conducting a literature review (Machi & McEvoy, 2009)
  1. Select a topic.
    Search the literature.
  2. Develop an argument.
  3. Survey the literature.
  4. Critique the literature.
  5. Write the review.

Referencee

Booth, W., Colomb, G., & Williams, J. (2008). The craft of research. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.

Machi, L. & McEvoy, B. (2009). The literature review: Six steps to success. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.



Narrowing down a research topic

This week, we're spending a lot of time with Thesis Seminar student researchers in narrowing down a top.  I've been putting together some ideas on how to do this, but am curious what others are doing.   A lot of what we are discussing comes from Booth, Colomb, & Williams (2008), and Machi & McEvoy (2009).

What are some good books on organizing a thesis/dissertation paper, forming arguments, logical reasoning, etc.?

Narrowing down a research topic

This week, we're spending a lot of time with Thesis Seminar student researchers in narrowing down a top.  I've been putting together some ideas on how to do this, but am curious what others are doing.   A lot of what we are discussing comes from Booth, Colomb, & Williams (2008), and Machi & McEvoy (2009).

What are some good books on organizing a thesis/dissertation paper, forming arguments, logical reasoning, etc.?

Thesis Seminar Recap

For those taking Thesis Seminar, this week's recap includes APA references and aligning level II and level III headings with your thesis statement.  This week we need to begin working on your literature review, making sure headings align to the thesis statement and topic sentences (of paragraphs) align with each respective level III heading.  Remember, our deadline for completing our literature review is March 2, 2012.


APA References:


 


[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/g4Zrguy3YQA?p=1 width="340" height="240"]


 


Headings that align with thesis statement:


[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/g4Zrguy2agA?p=1 width="340" height="240"]

Thesis Seminar: Introduction, Thesis Statement, & Research Questions

Group: Thesis Seminar


Wiki: Thesis Seminar Wiki


Note: You should be finished with your introduction and research questions by now and should be working on finishing your literature review.


In your introduction (approximately 250 words), include two paragraphs that introduce your thesis statement. The first paragraph will begin with a hook or some quote that grabs the attention of your audience. The rest of the paragraph will provide a background or context of your essay. The second paragraph will address the problem and purpose of your essay. In both paragraphs, use citations to link your ideas to outside sources. Your second paragraph will conclude with a thesis statement (one sentence) that includes your topic and your opinion – the main idea of your entire essay. This is the “blueprint” of your essay. The main headings of your thesis (level II headings) will provide the three main points that relate directly to your thesis statement. See the video below for more details pertaining to how to develop a good thesis statement.


[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/g4ZrguvgBAA?p=1 width="340" height="240"]

Weekly Reflections for Thesis Seminar

For those who are taking Thesis Seminar (group) this semester, remember to upload your reflections/log (approximately 250 words) to your own personal wiki between Thursday and Saturday of each week.  You should include the following:



  • What you accomplished for the week

  • What difficulties you had

  • What you plan to accomplish for the following week, and

  • What you would like us to discuss during our next face-to-face tutoring sessions.
    [blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/g4ZrgurHYQA?p=1 width="340" height="240"]