Research Topics & Ideas
15 Mar 2003
Ideas, topics, and strategies for outdoor education research theses and advanced studies projects
|Thesis or Project?|
|Before deciding on a research
thesis as the way to go, always check out the other options. A lot
of Masters programs offer professional project alternatives to the
research thesis. Often, professional projects, independent studies,
or internships, offer a more relevant and
useful learning task. Whatever the case, the thesis or project is
meant to function as a capstone learning task which extends a student
in the process of acquiring new knowledge.
Some factors to consider are that taking on a research thesis include that it always takes longer than planned, the quality of the students' experience and the research produced is highly dependent on the individual motivational level of the student, the student's academic ability, and the motivation, experience and ability of the supervisor. Thus, it generally takes an able, motivated student working with an able, motivated student on a topic of mutual expertise and interest for a highly successful piece of research to emerge and for a high quality educational experience to ensue from a graduate thesis. Students and faculty should consider a thesis topic and relationship carefully in the early stages.
|Half the battle is getting the right supervisor for you. A common underlying problem is that the supervisor and the student do not work optimally together. Build open relationships with potential supervisors. Top academics do not necessarily make the best supervisors. For example, find out how often and for how long a potential supervisor is prepared to meet with you. Approach potential supervisors based on them having similar interests and on your level of confidence in being able to work productively with that person. You should feel to discuss the possibility of doing research together without feeling compelled to follow through with any particular supervisor.|
|Get going early with thinking
about possible thesis topics. Explore ideas with classmates, look
through journals in the library, etc. Brainstorm a list of possible
topics Then approach potential supervisors to discuss your ideas and
get their feedback.
Ultimately, thesis topics emerge from dialogue between student and supervisor. Rarely does a student come up with their own, independent research for a thesis which isn't modified by the supervisor, and rarely does a supervisor present an idea to a student which the student doesn't modify. Thus, good quality dialogue must take place between student and faculty until an agreed upon research question is developed.
|Generally speaking, until your thesis proposal is officially approved by your thesis committee, everything can change. The topic can be changed by you or your supervisor, and your supervisor can be changed. Once your proposal is approved, you are contracting to do that thesis. If anything significant about your proposal changes, you need to renegotiate with your thesis committee.|