Option A: Research Thesis Track
The Senior Honors Thesis is a year long research project, planned and carried out by the student with guidance from a faculty member in the Psychology Department. This faculty member will be the Chairperson of the Thesis Committee. The Thesis is an opportunity to exercise the methodological skills and to synthesize the knowledge gained in course work throughout the student's program. Because the programs of Honors Majors are quite diverse, the Senior Thesis projects are similarly diverse. Students are urged to find a Senior Thesis topic that is a natural capstone experience to their own program. Undertaking the thesis is especially good preparation for graduate work in psychology. In almost all cases the Senior Honors Thesis will be an empirical investigation of a problem in psychology. Prior to conducting a thesis, students should be involved in research with the faculty member, before the senior year. Once you are ready to do the thesis, with the approval of the Chairperson of the Thesis Committee, you can request an override to get into 498H and 499H.
Psychology 498H and 499H: The activities related to the Senior Honors Thesis are carried out as part of Psychology 498H (Development of Research Proposal) and Psychology 499H (Senior Honors Thesis). Each of these two honors courses involves primarily the work that you do on your Senior Honors Thesis project, coordinated by the Chairperson of your Thesis Committee. Students who enroll in Psychology 498H will receive a grade of ET (Extended Time) at the end of the term. At the final oral defense of the thesis the committee will decide on a final grade. That grade will replace the ET in Psychology 498H and will also be the grade given for Psychology 499H. If a student does not complete the thesis by the end of the term that he or she is enrolled in Psychology 499H, they will receive a grade of ET in that course as well, and the grades will be changed when the thesis is completed. Students should be aware that an ET automatically changes to a grade of 0.0 one year after it is given if it has not been replaced with a grade before that time. The thesis must be completed by the end of the semester following enrolling in PSY 499H. If the thesis is not completed at that time the thesis committee will decide on a grade for PSY 498H, based on the work completed, and the student will receive a grade of 0.0 for PSY 499H. Students are responsible for being aware of the deadline by which the grade will change to a 0.0 and making appropriate arrangements for an extension if the thesis is not going to be completed by that time.
The Thesis Committee: Each Senior Honors Thesis will be carried out under the guidance of a Thesis Committee consisting of two members. The Chairperson of the Thesis Committee will be a faculty member from the Psychology Department chosen by the student. This faculty member will bear primary responsibility for the day-to-day supervision of the project. A second member of the committee should be selected by the student and the committee Chairperson, and should be a faculty member from the Psychology Department who can contribute substantively to the research. It may be someone who also knows the research area, or who is expert in some aspect of the methodology being employed in the project. A third member from within or outside the Psychology Department may be added if desired but it is optional. The Psychology Honors Faculty Advisors can serve the role of the second member of the committee. In rare cases it may be possible for the committee to be chaired by a faculty member from another department, and in these cases one of the Psychology Honors Faculty Advisors must be the second committee memeber. The committee must meet as a full committee (as opposed to partially or individually) with the student to review the thesis proposal, and later to examine the student on the final thesis. (See Oral Defense of the Thesis Proposal and Oral Defense of the Thesis below)
Time Schedule: It is assumed that preparation for research and a Senior Honors Thesis will begin long before the senior year, with participation in research-related activities through formal coursework and through independent projects. Ideally a student will have identified the thesis topic at least by the end of the junior year, and will also have identified a faculty member to serve as the Chairiperson of the Thesis Committee. Depending upon the nature of the research problem chosen, some preliminary work may be required during the spring or summer term preceding the senior year and intensive work should begin in the fall. The thesis proposal should be completed and reviewed by the thesis committee by the middle of the term in which you are enrolled in Psychology 498H. The research should then be carried out, and the thesis written with sufficient time to schedule the oral defense of the thesis before the end of spring term.
The Thesis Proposal: The thesis proposal is a critical component of the thesis project. It will be the basis for the initial review of the research by the thesis committee, and is a contract of sorts in that, if the research is approved and then carried out as it is described in the proposal, the committee is agreeing that the thesis will be satisfactory. The thesis chairperson should chair the meeting, and arrange a suitable format. Usually the student will be asked to give a brief (usually 5-10 minutes) presentation of the proposal, and then the members of the comittee will question the student. The purpose of the oral defense of the thesis proposal is to make the research plan be as good as it can be. It is, essentially, a working session in which the committee works as colleagues with the student to be sure that nothing has been overlooked in the planning and design of the research. Typically the Oral Defense lasts about an hour. It is required to provide the written copies of the proposal to the committee members at least one week before the scheduled oral defense.
Completed Thesis: The completed thesis will contain an abstract, introduction, methods, results, and discussion section, as well as a reference section. Also, it is customary to include an acknowledgements section in which people are given credit for important contributions to the thesis and funding sources are acknowledged. This section is usually placed between the Abstract and Introduction. An oral defense of the Senior Honors Thesis with the members of the Thesis Committee will be conducted in a manner similar to the oral defense of the Honors Thesis Proposal. Typically the student gives a brief (5-10 minute) overview and then the committee asks questions, based on the written thesis given to the committee members. As with the proposal, the committee must receive the thesis a week in advance of the Oral Defense. The committee will be deciding on a grade for the thesis. The most common outcome of the meeting is that as a result of reading the thesis and the oral exam, committee members have suggestions for changes that will improve the quality of the thesis. The committee members pass those suggestions on to the student as the basis for rewriting, and only the thesis adviser has to see the changes to approve them. When the Chairperson of the Thesis Committee informs the Psychology Honors Faculty Advisor that the changes have been made, and when a final copy is submitted to the Psychology Honors Faculty Advisor, then the grade is submitted by the Psychology Honors Faculty Advisor.
Presentation of the Thesis Research: On a date typically in late March there will be a Psychology Research Poster Fair at which ALL students doing a senior Honors Thesis in the academic year are required to present their research. In addition, all students are required to present their research at the University Undergraduate Research and Arts Fair (UURAF) typically held the first week of April. Posters prepared for the Psychology Research Poster Fair may be presented again at the UURAF. Participation in these events will be part of the basis for the grade on the Senior Honors Thesis.
Approval Forms for Proposal and Thesis
Thesis Defense Form