Description of Thesis Hours, HON 4V87

GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF COURSE

(Specific expectations and deadlines are provided to enrolled students

in a semester-specific syllabus each term.)


WHAT'S NEW

In 2011, the University Undergraduate Curriculum Committee approved a new Honors Thesis course, HON 4V87, to replace the former sequence of Honors Thesis hours.  A summary of the changes related to this new course is listed in the table below.

Old Honors Thesis

New Honors Thesis

Students enroll in four 1-credit-hour classes for the thesis, HON 4177, 4178, 4187, 4188

Students enroll in the variable hour class, HON 4V87, usually for 2 credit hours during each of their final two semesters (for a total of 4 hours)

Students are placed in a thesis section with Honors Program staff as faculty of record

Students are placed into a section of HON 4V87 with their thesis mentor as faculty of record

Grades for the thesis are awarded by the Honors Program at the completion of the entire thesis project

Grades for the thesis are awarded by the thesis mentor at the end of each semester

The grade for the thesis hours is “credit” or “no credit”, not a letter grade

Nothing new; thesis grades are still "credit" or "no credit" as determined by the thesis advisor.

 These changes have a number of benefits, both to the student and the mentoring professor.

          - Students will receive their grades as they progress through the thesis hours rather than earning an incomplete until the entire project is finished.

          - Mentoring professors will now have a record of their thesis direction to include in their departmental evaluation (depending on the policies of their department).

          - Mentoring professors do not have to act through an intermediary to assign grades to their thesis students.

          - Mentoring professors and the Honors Program office will not have to file change-of-grade forms for incomplete thesis hours, saving time and expense.

 Aside from these changes, the overall structure and expectations for an Honors thesis remain the same.  The description below highlights the requirements for writing an Honors thesis. 


PREREQUISITES & COURSE REQUIREMENTS

During the final two semester before graduation, Honors Program seniors most often enroll in HON 4V87 for two credit hours during each semester.  (HON 4V87 is a variable hour class, so the student must specify the number of credit hours for which they are enrolling.)   In this manner, the Honors Program senior submits a major portion of the thesis project, viz., half the thesis during each term.   (See “Thesis-Chapter Submissions,” below.)  In most every case, students officially beginning this sequence of Honors Thesis courses should have already completed:

-- Honors Colloquium (HON 3200);

-- at least one upper-level Honors contract/unit (usually via an Honors course contract in a 3000- or 4000-level class);

-- both Advanced Readings courses (HON 3100 and 3101); and therefore

-- the formal thesis proposal (one of the requirements for HON 3101).

During the penultimate semester, then, students will generally submit two complete chapters of the Honors thesis.  Though these submissions are subject to further revision, they must be more exacting and more polished than mere first drafts.

During the graduation semester, students write and submit the remainder of the chapters of the thesis.  The full-draft version of the thesis is often due (at the latest) around Spring Break for May graduates.  This final draft of the thesis must be polished and submitted to a faculty committee for an oral defense.  After the successful defense, the student then submits a final, properly formatted thesis to the Honors Program office for binding.  (Other, smaller-scale requirements will be announced and explained in the relevant syllabus each semester.)


GENERAL OVERVIEW OF SUBMISSION DEADLINES

While not a universal requirement, the following outline will guide nearly all students working on an Honors thesis.  Variations to this timeline will be outlined in the syllabus given to the Honors Program senior at the start of the semester.


FOR STUDENTS STARTING THEIR HONORS THESIS


Fri., 2nd Week of Class:

For all enrollees: Submit any outstanding or updated thesis proposals (pink form, completed and signed) to the Honors Program office.  (Most students will have completed this at the conclusion of their Readings class, HON 3101, and do not need to do anything at this point.)

Mon., 9th Week of class:

For those enrolled in two HON 4V87 hours: Submit one completed thesis chapter both to faculty director and the HP Office.

Fri., 9th Week of Class: (Spring Term)

One paragraph abstract due via email to Dr. Beck.

Varies; Spring Term Only:

 

Honors Week: May, August, and December Honors Program graduates present 15-minute overviews of their Honors thesis projects to the Baylor community.

- Honors Banquet: On an evening during  Honors Week, students and their thesis advisors are recognized at the Honors Program banquet.

Last Day of Class:

For those enrolled in two HON 4V87 hours: Submit a second completed thesis chapter to both the faculty advisor and the HP office.

For those enrolled in one HON 4V87 hours: Submit one completed chapter to both the faculty advisor and the HP office.


FOR STUDENTS FINISHING THEIR HONORS THESIS

 

Mon., 5th Week of Class:

For those enrolled in the final three HON 4V87 hours (very rare): second complete chapter due to faculty director and the HP office; or

If enrolled in the final two hours of HON 4V87: third complete chapter/section due only to the faculty director.

Mon., 9th Week of Class:

final chapter/section due only to your faculty director

Mon., 3 Weeks Prior to Honors Week (Spring Term); or Mon., 11th Week of Class (Fall Term):

Three items due:

1. One paragraph abstract due via email to Dr. Beck.

2. Draft of complete thesis project due to faculty director only.

3. Names of three thesis committee members reported to Dr. Beck

Varies; Spring Term Only:

 

Honors Week: May, August, and December Honors Program graduates present 15-minute overviews of their Honors thesis projects to the Baylor community.

- Honors Banquet: On an evening during  Honors Week, students and their thesis advisors are recognized at the Honors Program banquet.

Mon., Three Weeks b/4 Last Day of Class:

Last day to distribute complete and polished drafts of the thesis to the examining committee and the HP office.  (Note: students must allow one week between this distribution and the actual defense.)

Mon., Two Weeks b/4 Last Day of Class:

Last day to defend the thesis project before the examining committee.

Friday before Last Day of Class:

Priority deadline to submit approved and formatted final copies of the thesis to the HP Office as part of the exit review for HON 4088.

Last Day of Class:

A thesis submitted after this day will not be accepted under any circumstance.

 

 

CHAPTER SUBMISSIONS

Most students who plan to graduate from the Honors Program in a future semester (rather than the current one underway) will register for two credit hours of HON 4V87 this semester and then for another two credit hours of HON 4V87 next semester. The standard assignment for the first two hours of HON 4V87 credit is to complete two major sections or chapters of the thesis (one for each hour of credit), or about half of the thesis by the end of the term. Students in many disciplines aim for each chapter to be at least fifteen double-spaced pages long, set in a 12-point font. Thesis directors may certainly modify, as necessary, the expectations for chapter submissions in consultation with thesis writers and the Honors Program office.

Students must submit hard copies of completed chapter-drafts, in accordance with this schedule, to both their faculty mentors and the Honors Program office (viz., the document bin outside Morrison Hall 203.4). Each such submission should include an inclusive bibliography or works-cited listing, i.e., students must keep up with sources chapter-by-chapter rather than waiting to document them all at the end of the project. Please note that duplex/double-sided printing is acceptable for chapter drafts submitted to the Honors Program except for the final copy submitted just prior to graduation which must be printed single-sided on cotton bond paper.

The first submitted chapter need not be the introductory or first chapter of the thesis; it may become any part of the final project. Often enough, students and mentors choose to begin with a “literature review,” which surveys current scholarship pertaining to the topic and describes the central problems that the thesis will explore. In other instances, though, the chapter analyzes some of the primary sources or laboratory or field-work procedures that will provide the foundation for the overall thesis.

In any case the chapter should be polished and revised (not a rough first draft), and should include appropriate and properly formatted documentation (i.e., references and bibliography) as evidence of significant research; it should, moreover, reflect the quality of the finished thesis that will be submitted for Honors graduation. These chapters, though subject to later revision, must not show evidence of hasty work.

Note: Meeting these submission deadlines will require careful planning.  A link to a useful scheduling calculator can be found on the Honors Program website, http://www.baylor.edu/honors_program/index.php?id=57874.

It is practically a necessity that the student meet with his or her faculty director at least weekly. Students should never assume that no news is good news when it comes to getting feedback from their mentor. Ultimately, the student is responsible for ensuring that he or she receives adequate feedback and makes the required corrections to the draft, but both the mentor and the writer should be diligent communicators. Contact the Honors Program staff early if there are signs of poor communication.

 

 

GRADES

Starting in 2011, the thesis mentor will be responsible for assigning a grade for either “Credit” or “No Credit.” Grades will be awarded as the student progresses through the thesis project rather than at the end. In other words, students will get credit (or not) at the end of the semester in which they registered for HON 4V87. In most every case, students will no longer receive an “Incomplete” for thesis hours begun during earlier semesters.

In addition to the basic mark of “Credit” or “No Credit” for thesis hours, each Honors student will be given a more specific and holistic evaluation—ranging from “Unsatisfactory” to “Outstanding”—by the examining committee after the thesis defense. The committee will consider both the product (the completed thesis) and the overall process (e.g., conducting research, writing drafts, meeting deadlines) in assigning this mark. The committee’s evaluation will be a part of the permanent Honors Program record of each senior, and it may be used as a factor in determining his or her eligibility for awards occasionally given to the program’s graduates.

Students should have been placed into a section of HON 4V87 with their thesis mentor as the professor of record. As such, faculty should be able to assign grades to their thesis students in the same manner as any other class, e.g., through Bear Web, Class Roll, etc. If a student is not in a section with his or her thesis mentor, it is usually because the student selected the mentor at a late date or changed from one mentor to another. In such instances, the thesis mentor will need to contact the Honors Program office so that a grade can be assigned to the student.

 

HON 4088, HONORS EXIT REVIEW

HON 4088, Honors Exit Review, is a new course for Fall 2011.  The Exit Review is not a test or exam.  Rather, it is simply an administrative check of all Honors requirements.  A student MUST register for HON 4088 and a grade of "Credit" to be recognized as an Honors Program graduate.  Failure to register for this class or to earn credit for HON 4088 will prevent Honors Program graduation.

 

IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT THE FINAL DEADLINE

In order to process the thesis in time for graduation, the thesis and all other Honors Program requirements must be completed and submitted by the final deadline listed on the HON 4V87 syllabus.  Failure to meet this final deadline means either not graduating from the Honors Program or delaying graduation until a later semester. Students and mentors should thus plan for a cushion of at least one or two days in their schedule.