Project: Teaching Senior Theses Remotely
In 2020–2021, I participated in the Lecturer Teaching Fellows Program (LTF) at UC Berkeley.
My project, "Fostering Compelling Senior Thesis Projects through Remote Instruction," developed a framework for engaging undergraduate students in a robust, rigorous, and meaningful senior thesis seminar taught online or remotely.
For many students in humanities and social science disciplines—whose thesis projects are driven by independent research—the process of writing a senior thesis can feel solitary, even during in-person instruction. The conditions of remote instruction can amplify students’ sense of disconnect from their work, their instructor, and their classmates. Moreover, students conducting thesis research without access to university services—such as books available only in the campus library, manuscript archival documents, or even on-campus wifi—are perhaps even more likely to struggle with their research, exacerbating equity of access for students who want to engage in the highest level of undergraduate research.
This project works to ameliorate these issues by providing online thesis students with the structure, resources, and sense of community they need to produce substantial and significant thesis projects. Through my LTF project, I developed a model framework for a one-semester senior thesis seminar that is structured around three key features: week-long Modules (hosted in Canvas) to provide content, tutorials, and resources; scaffolded low-stakes assignments to help students make incremental progress on their projects; and opportunities to connect with classmates and faculty mentors through synchronous discussions and asynchronous discussion platforms.
Although this project was was inspired by U.S. universities' rapid conversion to online instruction in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is adaptable to post-pandemic teaching environments, too. The syllabus, tutorials, and resources, can be integrated into an in-person classroom, and the course's asynchronous Module structure (hosted on Canvas) can allow for a more flexible thesis experience for returning students, student parents, and working students.
Links to the Canvas site and classroom materials coming soon!