Q: When and how do I apply to the program?
A: Near the end of your sixth semester at Brown (for most students, that means May of their junior year). All Ed Studies concentrators will be informed of the procedure, which involves submission of a transcript that establishes the student's grade point average in Education courses as at least 3.5 (i.e. more A's than B's), a brief statement about the research project being undertaken, and a commitment form signed by the First Reader. Students will be notified about whether their application is approved before the semester ends.
Q: Who can be a First Reader?
A: Any member of the teaching faculty in the Education Department
Q: Who can be a Second Reader?
A: Any member of Brown's teaching faculty who is interested, knowledgeable, and willing to serve. Some students have also enlisted qualified members of the University's administration, the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, and the Education Alliance. If you have not already done so, you should get a Second Reader signed up early in the Fall Semester. For more information, see the Honors Advisor.
Q: How long should a thesis be?
A: There is no required minimum or maximum length, but experience shows that it is virtually impossible to write about a research project of this kind in fewer than 60 pages, and some have been well over 100. To get an idea of what others have done, look at theses from past years. They're on a shelf in the Dewey Conference Room.
Q: How often should I meet with my First Reader?
A: At least once every two weeks, and perhaps once a week. At the beginning of the year, you should set up a schedule that establishes a regular meeting time. It may not always be necessary to meet in person - emails and the telephone are often helpful - but it is always good to have a time set aside when you KNOW you can talk with your First Reader.
Q: How often should I meet with my Second Reader?
A: Usually, much less often than with your First Reader. The First Reader is your primary advisor; the Second Reader MAY choose to be more involved, or you may invite such involvement, but the Second Reader is generally consulted much less regularly and less frequently than the First Reader is.
Q: Should I consult with faculty who are not official Readers?
A: Absolutely. Faculty inside and outside the Education Department who have expertise on your topic should be sought out and consulted, preferably early in the project, and their advice and help should be acknowledged in the preface of the thesis's final draft.
Q: When is the final version due?
A: Generally in the third week of April. This gives the Honors Committee time to read the theses and meet to discuss them. For the 2004-05 academic year, the final draft is due at noon on Friday, April 22, 2005. Knowing this and "e;working backwards"e; from that date should help you and your First Reader set up a schedule for research and writing across the two semesters.
Q: If I complete the thesis, am I sure to be awarded Honors?
A: While the great majority of submitted theses do receive Honors, not all of them do. A thesis that meets the standards set by the Department's rubric (which you have seen, will see again, and will be invited to discuss with the Committee) will get Honors; one that doesn't will not. If it helps to think of it in terms of a grade, think of B+ as the minimum.
Even a thesis not awarded Honors, however, will allow the student to receive credit for ED 197-198, assuming that the First and Second Reader agree that it should receive at least a grade of "C". Within the memory of the current Honors Advisor, no student who has actually completed a thesis has ever failed to get credit.
Q: Who's on the Honors Committee?
A: Representatives from each branch of the Department (Human Development, History/Policy, and Teacher Education), plus the Honors Advisor. This year the members are Chris Amirault, Jin Li, Larry Wakeford, and Luther Spoehr.
Q: What are my other obligations?
- Keep your academic average in Education courses above 3.5 (i.e. more A's than B's) and give a copy of your informal transcript to the Honors Advisor at the end of the Fall Semester to establish that you have done so.
- Meet (In the company of your First Reader) with the Honors Committee early in the Fall Semester to discuss your plans (which you will summarize for the Committee in a one-page abstract) and how you plan to meet the expectations described in the Department's Rubric for Honors Theses.
- Make a brief (10-15 minutes long) presentation to the Department in February about how your project is going and what remains to be done.
Q: If I am conducting research with human subjects that may require IRB approval, when should I get in touch with them?
A: Immediately. Yesterday, if possible. Work with your First Reader to find out just what kind of clearance, if any, your project requires. The IRB meets monthly; the sooner you get your materials to them (using forms that are available online), the better.
Q: What if I want to do a thesis in an unorthodox format, such as a play, a movie, or even an epic poem?
A: That kind of final product almost inevitably will not be able to meet the guidelines outlined in the Department's Rubric, which are standard for any kind of research project in the social sciences. Such a presentation would not be approved in the initial application that is submitted at the end of the student's sixth semester at Brown, and students should not decide on their own to resort to it during the year of thesis-writing. Some alternate formats, however, may be approved on an individual basis by the Department when submitted in advance as Independent Study projects.
Q: If I have any other questions or concerns, who should I call?
A: The Honors Advisor, Professor Jin Li can be contacted at 401-863-9326 or Jin_Li@brown.edu.