Directing Theses and Dissertations, CTE Brownbag Lunch March 10, 2008.
Led by: Marsha Haufler and Mary Lee Hummert
Variation in how professors mentor dissertation students in large part due to differing research practices among disciplines
Factors to consider:
- Many students have jobs while they do their dissertation because they need to support themselves
- Some students are overseas or away from campus during dissertation process
- Often students are writing dissertation in their second language
One who is "READY"
- -prepared in the field
- -genuine commitment to the field
- -not afraid of hard work
- -not afraid of low living standards
- -can identify potential grant sources
- -can function in unfamiliar research environments
- -has good support system of family and friends
- -in good physical and emotional health
- -function as professionals before dissertation
- -think, how much are you going to have to bail them out?
- -pick a good committee so you are not alone in supporting the student.
- -know and use resources on campus: CAPS, Applied English Center
Defining and directing a dissertation topic:
- Significant and feasible
- Your job is to help students be realistic about what they can do
- Establish realistic completion schedule
- Determine publication venue and authorship early in the process (help students see the "big picture" and the product right from the start)
- Work with deadlines from the Graduate Studies Dept.
- Encourage students to finish PhD before they leave campus
- Students need to do the research themselves ("let go!"); this is their last step before becoming an independent scholar
- Don't leave it up to the committee to be the "bad guys"; prepare your student well.
- Don't let student go into comps unless they are ready
- Facilitating group meetings with can minimize competition among students, create professional camaraderie, complement or substitute for individual weekly meetings one-on-one, let students' peers help critique ideas and methods
- De-mystify the dissertation by giving examples of other graduate work
- Create opportunities for student to do the kind of writing and thinking he/she will need to do for the dissertation before the dissertation
- Co-author early to establish collegial repor
- Don't be afraid to tell students: "it's a PhD, you should figure this portion out yourself!"
- Make your expectations explicit