Honors College changes requirements

Leila Archer

New guidelines to make writing a thesis less of a challenge for students

While writing a thesis may seem like a daunting task, the Honors College is trying to make it a little easier for students.

The Honors College Policy Council (HOCOPOCO) recently approved several changes to the Honors senior thesis. Most of the changes will be implemented in Spring 2010.

HOCOPOCO set up focus groups made up of faculty and students in order to find out which thesis requirements needed to be changed.

The council found students needed more help in coming up with topics and crafting a proposal.

The college may start offering a writing seminar for juniors interested in writing a thesis. The class will be two credit hours, and students will work with a faculty member, said Victoria Bocchicchio, coordinator of curriculum and senior thesis for the Honors College.

The college will also require students to submit their defense committees sooner. The defense committees are groups of teachers that students set up to help defend their thesis when they appear in front of a panel to discuss their work.

The current requirement is to have the defense committee set up at least two months before the student graduates. Bocchicchio said she wants students to have their defense committees in place by the end of their first semester of thesis work.

“It’s too big of a project,” she said, adding that this was the main reason why the college wanted to change the thesis requirements.

Students who are writing a thesis may continue to sign up for 10 credit hours of thesis work, which has been the policy and usually takes up a student’s last two semesters. Students are expected to write 10 pages per credit hour, Bocchicchio said, adding that the length will vary depending on a student’s discipline.

The Honors College used to require all of its students to write a thesis – a requirement that was dropped decades ago. However, students are still encouraged to write a thesis.

“It’s a good learning experience,” Bocchicchio said.

Lisa Kurz, senior international relations major, said she wanted to write a thesis because she is looking at graduate schools.

While most graduate schools do not require a thesis, it is a good idea for a student to have one to show the school what he or she learned as an undergraduate, Bocchicchio said. She added that it also prepares the student for the types of things he or she will be doing as a graduate student.

“It shows you’re willing to put in the extra effort,” Kurz said.

Kurz is in her last semester at Kent State and has been working on her thesis since last fall. She said the thesis is very time-consuming, but as long as students budget their time and plan accordingly, they should be fine.

Bocchicchio and Kurz agreed the key to writing a solid thesis is for the student to keep open lines of communication with his or her faculty adviser.

Kurz’s adviser helped her narrow down her topic and set deadlines, she said, which helped her with time management.

Brian Dailey, senior physics major and first-semester thesis writer, said his adviser is always available to talk to through weekly meetings and e-mail.

Dailey said his adviser directs him where to go in his research.

“He points and I take the steps,” Dailey said.

While graduate school admission may be one of the big reasons students take on the Honors thesis, there are other reasons why a student may want to write one.

For Kurz, it was an opportunity to learn more about something she was interested in that was not necessarily taught in her classes. For Dailey, it was to see whether he wanted to work in the field he is writing his thesis in, as well as to do something that no one else has done before.

“I think it’s really going to be a big booster,” he said.

Contact Honors College reporter Leila Archer at [email protected].