Main Article Content
The final year dissertation is seen across many degrees as a capstone achievement. It is set apart from other assessments in terms of its magnitude, its requirement for originality, and the autonomy that students must show in completing it. It is also unique in that it is traditionally carried out within the context of a one-to-one supervisory relationship. However, dissertation modules are prey to a number of problems. First, the person carrying out the research may have difficulty in framing a quality, or even a feasible, research question. Second, where dissertations are based on original empirical work, ethical concerns are particularly crucial, but the ability of the student-researcher to appropriately engage with those concerns is substantially less than that of a mature researcher. Third, support comes from a single source, but the supervisory relationship may be poor, or perceived as poor relative to the supervision experienced by peers. This case study describes a suite of changes that were made to one dissertation module to ameliorate these potential problems. Specifically, supervisors create project frameworks that students work within and the responsibility for getting ethical clearance for these is a supervisor’s responsibility. In addition, a substantial programme of specialised support sessions was created to supplement supervision. We argue that these changes did not significantly undermine the autonomy and originality requirements of the module, and present evidence that suggests they had a substantial positive impact on students’ learning experience and academic achievement. Ideas for further ways in which the dissertation module could be improved are discussed.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).
Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice has made best effort to ensure accuracy of the contents of this journal, however makes no claims to the authenticity and completeness of the articles published. Authors are responsible for ensuring copyright clearance for any images, tables etc which are supplied from an outside source.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Bishop, D. (2013, July 26). Why we need pre-registration [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://deevybee.blogspot.com/2013/07/why-we-need-pre-registration.html
British Psychological Society. (2017). Statement of Policy on Authorship and Publication Credit. Leicester, UK: Author.
British Psychological Society. (2016). Standards for the accreditation of undergraduate, conversion and integrated Masters programmes in psychology. Leicester, UK: Author.
Button, K.S., Ioannidis, J.P.A., Mokryscz, C. et al. (2013). Power failure: Why small sample size undermines the reliability of neuroscience. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 14(5), 365–376.
Button, K., Lawrence, N., Chambers, C., & Munafo, M. (2016). Instilling scientific rigor at the grassroots: Consortium-based undergraduate psychology projects. The Psychologist, 29 (3), pp. 158-167.
Deci, E.L., & Ryan, M.R. (2000). The 'what' and 'why' of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11, 227-68.
Del Río, M., Díaz-Vázquez, R., & Maside Sanfiz, J. (2018). Satisfaction with the supervision of undergraduate dissertations. Active Learning in Higher Education, 19(2), 159-172.
Derounian, J. (2011). Shall We Dance? The Importance of Staff-Student Relationships to Undergraduate Dissertation Preparation. Active Learning in Higher Education, 12(2), 91-100.
Devonport, T., & Lane, A. (2006). Cognitive appraisal of dissertation stress among undergraduate students. The Psychological Record, 56(2), 259-266.
Edwards, S. (2009). Student projects in medicine: A lesson in science and ethics. Accountability in Research, 16(6), 285-306.
Hack, C. J. (2012). Ethical review of undergraduate student research projects: A proportionate, transparent and efficient process? Bioscience Education, 19, 1-8.
Healey, M., Lannin, L., Stibbe, A., & Derounian, J. (2013). Developing and Enhancing Undergraduate Final-Year Projects and Dissertations. York, UK: The Higher Education Academy.
Hwang, A., Kessler, E., & Francesco, A. (2004). Student Networking Behavior, Culture, and Grade Performance: An Empirical Study and Pedagogical Recommendations. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 3(2), 139-150.
Landrum, R. E., & Harrold, R. (2003). What employers want from psychology graduates. Teaching of Psychology, 30(2), 131-133.
Nosek, B., Alter, G., Banks, G., Borsboom, D., Bowman, S., Breckler, S., … Yarkoni, T. (2015). Promoting an open research culture. Science, 348, 1422–1425. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aab2374
Schapper, J., & Mayson, S. (2010). Research-led teaching: Moving from a fractured engagement to a marriage of convenience. Higher Education Research and Development, 29, 641–651. https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360.2010.489236
Todd, M., Bannister, P., & Clegg, S. (2004). Independent inquiry and the undergraduate dissertation: Perceptions and experiences of final‐year social science students. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 29, 335-355.
Wiggins, S., Gordon-Finlayson, A., Becker, S., & Sullivan, C. (2015). Qualitative Undergraduate Project Supervision in Psychology: Current Practices and Support Needs of Supervisors Across North East England and Scotland. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 13, 1-19.
Wood, C., Giles, D., & Percy, C. (2012). Your psychology project handbook: Becoming a researcher (2nd ed.). Harlow: Pearson.