{Adventures} / {Puppy Grub}

on writing a thesis

One of the classes Jared and I are taking this semester is research writing.

Translated: write your thesis.

Translation translated: you must write a thesis to graduate.

I am not afraid of academic writing.  It is not something I always look forward to, but I do enjoy having a finished product, something that has challenged my intellect and something I can be proud of.

Did you catch that?  I’m not always proud of what I’ve written.  Especially if it was a cram-last-ditch-effort paper.

Those are gross.

But papers where you do the research, put forth the effort, reflection, organization, and time… well, I really like those finished products.

It’s okay if you think I’m a Nerd.

I prefer to think of myself less as a Nerd, and more of a Lifelong Learner (because then I’ll get to have a library with a sliding ladder someday, but don’t have to have the pocket protector).

Hi!  My name is Kobuk, and this is what my face looks like when I’m sleepy but don’t want to sleep.   Cute, right?

Recently, I was sharing my thesis ideas with my supervisor.  She informed me that I was thinking of my thesis on a dissertation level.  She said I need to scale back.

My reaction was twofold: 1) How was I supposed to know that?  Um, thanks for telling me ahead of time.  2) Is there any way I can skip my thesis and get right to a dissertation?  I mean, I wasn’t thinking P+h+D for a long while anyway, if at all, but if it wants to hop in my lap, I’ll not object.

So, with some modification of my original ideas, I plunge ahead into thesis writing.  And, since this week is spring break for us, and since I just dropped Jared off so he can go explore the woods for his required class, I’m free to research and write (or get distracted and eat cookies).

Anyway, I’m not super excited to do the work, but I am excited for when the work is over.  Hopefully that makes sense.

Now, for some details (this is especially for you, mother-types).
The process: this semester we have the research writing class.  The goal of the class is for each student to have a rough thesis draft completed by the end of the class and be prepared to “propose”.

This is also a sleepy face.  I sleep with my tongue out sometimes, because I’m awesome.  Also, you may have guessed these pictures of me have nothing to do with writing a thesis.  Look at my big paws!  Writing is boring and makes me want to take a nap.

“Proposing” your thesis is the meeting where you discuss your first three chapters with your committee.  The first three chapters include an introduction (purpose of your research, research questions), literature review, and research methods.  Your committee is two or three faculty whom you have selected.  One of these people is your thesis chair, whom you work closely with during the whole process (committee chair=writing coach.  without the pom poms.  although…).  After the end of your meeting (“proposing”) the committee signs a document that gives you approval or permission to begin your research.

There are four to five chapters for your thesis, depending on whether you write a thesis or a project.  I’m unsure which one I will choose, though I think my topic lends itself well to a thesis.  After proposal, all the data and actual original research is collected.  The data is analyzed and conclusions are drawn (this is chapter four and five, if it’s a thesis).  Then, after this has been written into paper format, the thesis must be “defended”.  Again, defense is a meeting with your committee.  Defense and proposals must be done in different semesters.  I hope that I might be able to propose by the end of this semester or during the summer term, then defend in the fall or early spring.

Fascinating, eh?

Hehe, I still have my tongue out.  Also, Mary won’t let me eat cookies but she’s eating cookies for breakfast and lunch today.  Life isn’t fair.

My thesis topic is Mechanisms of Growth in Faith-Based Wilderness Adventure Organizations.  Or some-such title.  I am researching what specific elements of a wilderness experience trigger growth in participants (though for my literature review, which I am currently working on, I am examining what mechanisms encourage spirituality across the board, religious affiliation or no).  I will be interviewing directors of Christian wilderness organizations in the original research phase to discover how their specific organization thinks of/implements spiritual growth in their programming.  And I think it is a-w-e-s-o-m-e.

Spiritual growth (and here, I mean Christian spiritual growth) is difficult to quantify because people are dynamic and in a process and the Holy Spirit generally doesn’t fit very well into statistical analysis.  I had a very stimulating conversation with a gentleman at WEA about how boards of Christian adventure organizations want the numbers and the pie graphs and the statistics of the outcomes of their programming.  While those can be helpful, they rarely represent what’s happening in the lives of participants.  For the love of pie graph, folks, we have to figure out a better way.

I apologize, I’m rambling, now.  And that’s what my disseratation would be about, not my thesis:).  Ha.

These are my paws.  This is what they looked like 3 weeks ago.  I was 40lbs at 16 weeks old.  I have five adult teeth and I like to chew on ice cubes.  I would chew on Mary’s thesis if she let me.  

So that, my frieeeeends (I wish you could here the nasaly tone I just said that in) is what I have to say about that.

P.s. Jared’s thesis will examine how wilderness experience’s break down barriers between participants.  We’re a pro-wilderness experiences family.

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