onsdag 1 februari 2012

Bachelor's thesis season has started

Spring is bachelor's thesis season at our department. This year I will be the advisor of one group of students (around 4 thesis projects, almost always with students working in pairs). I will also be the examiner of approximately a third of this year's crop of theses - and the number of students is huge, with more than 70 students lined up and ready to dig in.

The course starts with a series of lectures and seminars (pairing up, reading literature about writing academic reports and about methods and theories, examples of theses being discussed, sessions for generating or refining ideas, writing up thesis specifications etc.). I just finished my part which consisted of two lectures and one seminar (times five seminar groups). During the following weeks, students and thesis topics will be matched up with advisors and groups will be formed. I will get to meet "my" students (don't know who yet) for the first time around two weeks from now.

I do have to say that the students really take this course seriously and in general seem to be very well prepared this year. Most chose the partner they will work with already before the Christmas break and many have also thought some/a lot about what they will write about. Based on the students' attitudes and preparations, I definitely have a good feeling about the theses that will be produced this year.

The bachelor's thesis is (naturally) one of, or the largest project our third-year students have undertaken up until this point in their education. I assume it is the longest and most "serious" text most of them will have written up until this point in their lives. Writing an academic report doesn't come naturally, so even students who are generally good at writing haven't written anything in this specific genre - and so there is much to learn also for them. Finally, it is also most probably the one project this far where they have the largest amount of freedom (and responsibility) to choose what to do and how to plan their time. I again emphasize that it to me feels like the vast majority of students have already understood this and at this (early) point in time have already shouldered the responsibility for their projects.

This is the third time we have students who write their bachelor's thesis and the course and the students' attitude only seems to get better every year. This is what I wrote about last year's course after it ended.

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