Thesis Seminar

Thesis Seminar: Week 4

Date: February 18-22, 2019


  • Do thesis statement, research questions, and main sections (level II headings) align?  Does the thesis statement (one sentence with a topic, opinion, and reasons or ways) answer the research questions?

  • Do topic sentences that begin each body paragraph contain a claim?

  • Are topic sentences from each body paragraph organized in a logical fashion?  Are they coherent? Do topic sentences align to their respective main sections?

  • Do main sections of the literature review (level II headings) align with the thesis statement?

  • Are main sections of the literature review (level II headings) organized logically (coherent)?

  • From prior weeks:

    • How does my thesis statement reflect a researchable problem?

    • How does my thesis statement align (or relate) to my literature review?

    • How do my research questions align with my literature review? Does the literature review answer the research questions?

    • How does the overall organization of my literature review reflect an argument or point of view?  What is my overall position?


At this point in the process (with three weeks left)…

  • you should have found the articles that you need to write your literature review.

  • you should have a clear thesis statement.

  • you should have a good idea of what your research questions are although it’s common to slightly modify your research questions as you develop your literature review (in qualitative studies).

  • you should have a clear overall organizational pattern that is appropriate for your thesis statement and research questions.

  • You should prepare for discussing your organizational pattern with your mentor (that’s me!).

Finding Articles

Thesis Seminar: Week 3

Date: February 11 , 2019 - February 15, 2019


  • How does my thesis statement reflect a researchable problem?

  • How does my thesis statement align (or relate) to my literature review?

  • How do my research questions align with my literature review? Does the literature review answer the research questions?

  • How does the overall organization of my literature review reflect an argument or point of view?  What is my overall position?

Weekly Learning Journal


Thesis Seminar: Week 2

Date: February 4 , 2019 - February 8, 2019


  • Is it convenient to have a mixed method according to what I want to research?

  • Is the information obtained convenient for my study?

  • Is the organization of the literature review appropriate?

  • What kind of information can I add to complement the literature review?


Begin with your research questions.  How do the experts (the literature) answer or address these research questions? Remember that these research questions are based on a researchable (specific) problem - a problem that obviously relates to you but also a problem other researchers have investigated.

Example research question: How can cell phones be used to promote communicative strategies and collaboration in the English language learning classroom?

Example questions that can make up sections to a literature review (they are not research questions).

  • Cell phone usage (or mobile technology), past to the present

  • What can the zone of proximal development apply to peer interaction or assessment?

  • What are various interactional patterns in the classroom?

    • What is the difference between collaboration and cooperation?

  • What are communicative strategies? Or How does one continue a conversation when they are not sure what to say?


Key terms: thesis statement, claims, premises, grounds (or evidence), and warrant

The way in which you organize your literature review will depend on how you choose to organize your academic argument.  Your literature review is an organized (logical) pattern of premises (or claims) that state your position around your research problem.  Your research problem relates to your research question(s) that pertain to the purpose of your study.  A good argument will include (Dartmouth, 2014):

  • a thesis or claim that declares the writer's position on the problem at hand;

  • an acknowledgment of other perspectives;

  • a set of clearly defined premises that illustrate the argument's line of reasoning;

  • evidence that validates the argument's premises;

  • a conclusion that convinces the reader that the argument has been soundly and persuasively made (para. 2).

Based on Toulmin's analysis of argument, include claims, grounds (or evidence), and warrants (Dartmouth, 2014, para. 5).  The claim is what you are asserting or proposing; the grounds include the evidence that supports your claim; and the warrant is what permits a piece of evidence to stand in support of a given claim.  Warrants are perhaps the most "slippery" aspects of argument, in that they often comprise widely-held beliefs and assumptions that may or may not be stated explicitly.

Essential question: Do the premises justify you in believing the conclusion?

Research Tip


A premise is a claim that leads to another claim (or premise), etc. towards a final conclusion. When forming an argument, gather premises (claims) that support a final conclusion.  Weak premises lead to a weak conclusion.

Solutions to the problem of the skeptical regress...

  1. Start with a premise that is unjustified. (problematic)

  2. Use an argument with a circular structure. (problematic)

  3. Use an infinite chain of arguments. (problematic)

Tricks for dealing with the skeptical regress...

  1. Start with assumptions that everyone shares and assure the audience (reader).

  2. Discount objections.

  3. Guard your claim.

Types of claims

A argument is based on how claims are presented.  There are five types of claims (Hart, 2002)...

  1. Claims of fact (Note: Different than evidence used to support claims that link to a topic sentence, and generally are avoided in this course when verbs like to be or to have are used as main verbs.)

  2. Claims of worth

  3. Claims of policy

  4. Claims of concept

  5. Claims of interpretation

Additional links


Parts of a manuscript (APA, 2001, pp. 10-29) Sample, Sample two

  • Title page

  • Abstract

  • Introduction (2)

    • Introduce the problem or aim of the study

    • Review of related literature (develop background)

      • Literature review (2)(Sample): When researching references to be used in your literature review, use an annotated bibliography. Create an index card per annotated bibliography and summarize the article and include a critical analysis. This makes it easier to keep track of your references when deciding which of these you will use in your paper - you don't have to use all of them.

    • Hypothesis

  • Method (Express the appropriateness of the method and the reliability and the validity of the results.)

  • Results

    • Data analysis

    • Tables and figures

    • Statistical presentation

    • Effect size and strength of relationship

  • Discussion (conclusions and recommendations)

    • Evaluate and interpret implications

    • Problem choice (limitations)

    • Levels of analysis

    • Application and synthesis

  • Multiple Experiments (if applicable)

  • References

  • Appendix



Weekly reflections and one-on-one, recorded tutoring sessions; online correspondence and additional tutoring sessions as needed

Thesis Seminar: Abstract, Introduction, and Conclusion

In this episode, I provide a general overview of the abstract, introduction, and conclusion when writing a thesis paper.


Include a 150-250 word abstract on a separate page just before the Table of Contents page. The abstract should be one paragraph with no indentation, double spaced, using Times New Roman, font size 12. Refer to the audio for what to include in your abstract.


Include a hook, context of the problem, and thesis statement in your introduction paragraph that begins your literature review.


Reword your thesis statement, provide the significance of your study, and include a closing statement when completing your conclusion paragraph that ends your Results and Discussion section.

Thesis Seminar: Week 1

Thesis Seminar


Review the syllabus for the course: objectives, content, method, assessment, and references along with course guidelines and work schedule.


  • Tutoring sessions (40%)

    • Weekly reflective journal.

    • Periodic grades assigned to different sections of the thesis paper: literature review, method, results and discussion.

  • Oral Defense (20%)

  • Written thesis paper (40%)


  1. Review APA folder for important APA documents that can help clarify any doubts.

  2. Review UAA plagiarism policy.


Link to video:

Review Narrowing Down a Researchable Topic Newsletter.


  1. Make sure you have created or have access to your current Google (email/YouTube) account - do not create a new Google account if you already have one.

  2. Install the following apps on your mobile device (cell phone, tablet, etc.):

    1. Google Docs (Android/iPhone)

    2. Google Drive (to access public classroom folder) (Android/iPhone)

    3. Google Classroom (Android/iPhone) - For degree-seeking learners only.

    4. Browser of your choice (Firefox, Chrome, Opera, etc.)

    5. WhatsApp (I will share my phone number with everyone the first day of class.) (Android/iPhone) - For degree-seeking learners only.


  • Complete the narrowing down your topic handout (from the newsletter).

  • Discuss your topic with both tutors your topic.

  • Discuss your topic with your classmates your topic.

  • Read additional articles as necessary to find studies similar to yours.

  • Turn in your handout to the tutors on Friday by 10:00 AM.