Defining thesis topics for undergraduate students

by Petrone Risk

Defining thesis topics for undergraduate students

Depending on the requirements of your institution, undergraduate students may require a thesis to graduate. The thesis is optional, and students can chose between an exam or a thesis in some institutions.

You may give overly ambitious topics to your undergraduate thesis students if you are a new university professor. You will need to place yourself inside their shoes before you you will need to simply plug a student in one of your quest projects. You cannot simply shove off part of your research to an undergraduate student while I do think including undergraduate these students in research projects can be very beneficial (for the project as well as for the student.

I have, by now, directed a wide range of undergraduate thesis projects at Universidad San Francisco de Quito (12 students have graduated under my supervision), and I also can share my best advice with you here on the best way to define a good thesis topic for an undergraduate student.

Case study

Because of the short duration of an undergraduate thesis, a case study could be a great topic for a thesis. Then a case study may serve his/her needs more than a research topic if your student is planning to go to the industry after graduation. You are able to identify a case that fits within your current research projects to keep the results pertaining to your projects, but it is not a necessity. Again, don’t assume all student must do / wants to complete / needs to do an investigation project for his or her undergraduate thesis.

Well-defined research project

When you do like to venture into research with an undergraduate student, along with talked through your options very well and clearly together with your student, then you may end up in a enjoyable position. Nothing makes me as happy as seeing how students get a taste that is first of when focusing on their undergraduate thesis. As well as for some students who continue in research, they could likewise have forever fond memories of focusing on research to you when it comes to very first time in their life.

So, then you should keep in mind that the research question should be limited if your students decides to take on a research-related topic for the undergraduate thesis. Whenever you come fresh out of your postdoc, give your student an investigation topic that doesn’t require much review additional skills beyond what he/she has learned thus far, and work that you could finish in about 1 month should your student has per year to get results from the undergraduate thesis.

Depending on your institution, the timeframe readily available for the undergraduate thesis project ranges between 2-3 weeks and per year. Make sure you understand certain requirements ahead of when you talk with your student about your planning. Know if your student will be defending (if you have a defense), and when preliminary and documents that are final to be submitted.

Then, invite your student to identify the required tasks during the thesis period, also to make a planning. When he/she has a draft set of tasks and planning, sit together, and discuss the options and feasibility of the planning – your student does not know how to plan research yet.

Given that undergraduate thesis report may be among the first items of academic writing of one’s student, make certain he/she starts writing early. Request document at the beginning of the next 50 % of the period of time when it comes to research, and present constructive feedback to the task of the student and his/her writing. Needless to say, you should curently have a idea that is good of work itself (I meet weekly for 30′ with my thesis students to talk about progress), but it is written down that certain things may capture your attention, and in which you might find elements of the task that need strengthening.

In the event your institution only gives one semester or quarter when it comes to undergraduate research project, you are able to invite students to do business with you on a research-related topic already ahead of the final semester. For some associated with the more extensive projects for up to 1,5 years that I have worked on with my students, I have worked with them. I invite them to see for a slightly longer amount of time if they are interested in research in the first place, and if so, I try to work with them. My goal let me reveal to not overload students with regards to of workload, but it takes to import instrumentation is often very long, so that experiments are simply not an option for a 1-semester project if we want to do experimental work, for example, the time. If we start to work earlier, we may have the ability to take action fun within the lab.

I’ve mentioned this advice already before: always talk to your student about their interests and their career plans. Our act as university professors just isn’t to have a battalion of minions doing our research work with us. Our tasks are to steer people that are young their career path: finding their interest and helping them sort out what they want to do after graduation. Don’t limit your possible topics to elements of your quest. Attempt to broaden your horizon and open as much as a bigger number of topics.

I have published with my undergraduate students: conference papers, and I have a few papers in review of which the first author is a former student that is undergraduate. Publishing certainly just isn’t a must. But then why not if your student is interested in continuing studies after the undergrad years? Again, make fully sure your student understands the expectation in addition to extra workload this implies. And on your side, make certain you understand that you shall have to teach your students simple tips to write a paper. Then you can discuss if you should pursue this option if both are clear on the expectations.