Today I want to share with you my challenges and wins in writing a thesis paper, provide you with a piece of advice to improve your online learning experience and propose some recommendations to advance this course.
First, to my fortune, I easily chose the topic of my research that I am passionate about: teacher leadership. BUT! It was not so easy to identify the focus of research, because leadership is very broad and big phenomenon. Then I decided to compare two perspectives on teacher leadership: principals` and teachers`. Because in most cases the big difference in interpretation and perception can lead to misunderstandings and misleading practice of leadership roles. Next top to climb was the formulation of research questions. It was so hard sometimes to stay focused on research vision and purpose. Different irrelevant and vague questions came to mind. My instructors` supervision and guidance saved the situation. Thirdly, literature review. That was the most challenging mission for me! I have found tones of articles, and all of them seemed so important, I decided to include them all, staying behind the research topic. As a result, primary version of literature review looked as a silly shopping list. Last concern was connected with interview questions. What I need to ask to reveal the valid responses and get reliable findings? The questions seemed very broad and far from the research focus.
However, this course helped to fix some practices in stating the research questions, organizing literature review, selecting and justifying proper measurement instruments and methods. Weekly writing assignments with limited word count, attached guidance and clear instructions helped me to represent the ideas as concise and transparent as possible. I used to apply long and descriptive introductions, where in the surge of hundred words the reader cannot get the main idea and gets lost. Robyn suggested me to wear the potential readers` shoes and use short and simple constructions easy to understand.
The only 2 suggestions I would like to promote is changing the format of this course. I suppose it is rather better to organize it as a blending course. When students can attend face-to-face elective courses and then have some practice at home and submit the take –home assignments online. The second is to practice writing the mini-thesis during the first study year. It would be more beneficial to exercise mini-thesis writing skills before conducting a real master thesis. Otherwise, it is really distracting from the main full-thesis.
If nothing changes and format of the course remains the same I recommend to online learners the following tips to survive:
- Appreciate the time
- Do not create any excuses to justify laziness
- Follow strictly the assignment requirements
- Any concerns? Consult the course instructors and group mates
- Write everyday: even 100 words a day on assignment
- Take a breath: put the draft away. After some period of time, proofread it again with the fresh mind
- Save all the drafts in Google Drive
P.S. Through the thorns to the stars!!!!