Saturday, January 7, 2012

And We're Back . . . the New Term, Spring '12


Chris Foster 623-0525
Mark Jeffreys 863-6199

This is the first of a two-course sequence during which IS students write a senior thesis, a research paper or project that draws on tools and knowledge from each of two emphases.
Capstone 1 is designed to facilitate the research and writing of the thesis. As needed, we may address theoretical and practical problems associated with research and writing, including interdisciplinarity, research methodologies, library research, and evaluating scholarly sources.
We will be taking your email addresses and inviting each of you to join the Capstone One blog, , as authors.
You will each need to start your own blog where you will post your weekly assignments. The links to your blogs will be on the home page of the Capstone One blog.
Post each assignment by Saturday night or Sunday morning, at the latest, before the following Monday class.

Grades will be based on the Final Proposal, due April 23rd, the Monday of finals week.

ATTENTION STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES: If you have any disability which may impair your ability to successfully complete this course, please contact the Accessibility Services Department.  Academic accommodations are granted for all students who have qualified, documented disabilities. 
ACADEMIC DISHONESTY:  This course upholds the Students Rights and Responsibilities Code, Section VII-D, “ACADEMIC RESPONSIBILITIES.”  You are expected to do your own work on assignments and exams unless they are designed as collaborative efforts.  If you are involved in any form of academic dishonesty you will receive a grade of “zero” for that assignment.  If you are involved in academic dishonesty a second time during the semester, you will receive an “E” as your final grade for the course. If you plagiarize the proposal for the course, you will receive an “E” for the course.

First Class: questions, expectations, fears, examples--the Capstone One Blog

Assignment 1 (to be posted on your blog by Sunday morning, 22 January)
Most basically, what do you want to write about? What problem would you like to solve? What topic would keep your interest over the course of two semesters? What do you already know the most about? What would you like to become even more expert at? What question or topic will require you to use what you’ve learned in both your emphases? Can you state a first, tentative question you’d like to answer? Think about whether that question, like most first questions, is too broad for a thesis (requiring a book to answer it – and you’re only writing a senior thesis). Can you ask a more focused question? What kinds of resources will you draw on to pursue this topic?

Assignment 2 (post by 29 January)
            Rewrite/rethink your first assignment, emphasizing what progress you’ve made. Again we’ll talk about the topics, about progress made, sharing ideas and questions.

Assignment 3 (post by 5 February)
            Rewrite/rethink your first and second assignments. This will be a much advanced, third draft. Again we’ll talk about the topics, about progress made, sharing ideas and questions.

Assignment 4 (post by 12 February)
            Preliminary research. Use your noggin to squeeze the Google, squeeze the UVU library search engines, squeeze your in-laws, squeeze anyone or anything that might have information you’ll need for the thesis.
            Post a written description of what you’ve found that will help with the thesis. The writing is not for professors so we can see you’ve done the assignment but rather a record of your thinking and your findings. You’ll make good use of this in weeks to come.

Assignment 5 (post by 19 February)
            Make further progress on assignment 4, expand your collection of sources. Ask what you know you’ll need but haven’t yet found. Figure out ways to find it. Bring a record of your progress to class (with copies for everyone).

………that’s it for now. There will be other assignments to come.

In general, we’re working toward a robust version of the thesis that represents about half the work you’ll do for the final thesis. We call the first full version of this a proposal for research. We don’t mean “proposal” as first ideas, but rather at a full thinking through of the project, laying out what you’ve done and what still needs to be done in capstone 2.
This proposal must be completed and approved by advisors from your emphases as you begin the 499R class. When you ask faculty members to serve on your committee, you are also asking them to approve the proposal you have written. The proposal often includes a project summary explaining the topic, a review of literature and an outline of topics for discussion in the paper. The review of literature consists of a brief bio of the author of the source, a discussion of issues contained in it and quoted material from the source related directly to your project.

The thesis should involve a problem or question that requires you to draw on tools you’ve learned in the two emphases you have chosen for Integrated Studies. Each thesis should reflect serious academic research, clear and concise writing and should consist of an in-depth discussion and analysis of the topic. The length of the thesis will be determined by the topic and the disciplines involved. For instance, a thesis discussing a mathematical problem might be fully analyzed in a few pages, while a philosophical, theoretical thesis could take 30 pages to discuss. The thesis should include a clear statement of purpose or thesis statement, substantial supporting evidence for each assertion made, clear documentation of sources and a summary of the issues presented as a conclusion. The thesis should also include a works-cited section. Sources should include professional journals, books, articles, newspaper articles, documentaries, archives, personal interviews, etc. Internet sources may be used, but only with careful scrutiny as to original source and author and only to supplement other sources.

The Advisory Committee consists of three members: your IS Capstone instructor, and one full-time faculty member from each or your Integrated Studies emphases. Choosing the members of your committee is a crucial step in the capstone process. You should choose the member of each emphasis department whose work is most closely aligned with the project you have chosen to pursue. As an Integrated Studies student, you are still gaining a degree from the departments you have chosen as your emphases, and are still students of these departments. Integrated Studies simply facilitates the combination of these two disciplines. So work closely with the committee members you choose. 

Advisory Committee members will assist you in writing your thesis by reading several revisions of your paper.  You can call on committee members with questions about the topic as well as questions about research and research writing.  As committee members read each version of your thesis, they will comment on ways you can improve the paper. They are expected to give you honest and professional evaluation of your work, so be prepared to receive criticism. Work from the comments on each draft to revise, to clarify issues, improve support for your assertions and to document carefully.  Take the comments you receive seriously and revise to reflect these critiques. Once you have prepared a competent draft of your paper, submit the draft to your advisors. When you have received commentary from them regarding the direction and content of your work, revise and submit the next draft to your committee members. When you have received comments from each of your committee members and have revised thoroughly, submit another draft for comment. We will continue this process until all members of the committee are satisfied with the result. We hope to review each paper three times before it is ready for defense. Note that we are requesting only “competent” drafts for commentary. No committee member should be expected to review “rough” drafts or to read and reread identical drafts of a thesis. If you need writing help, the Writing Center is available to you.
This is a big project. It can be rewarding and enjoyable (even fun).

For examples of good theses and further information about the senior thesis, see the link to the Integrated Studies web site: (on the upper left corner of this homepage) or the theses in the library.

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