Friday, June 15, 2007

100th Post! (And Thesis, Perhaps?)

It's only fitting that on my 100th post, I would tell you, my dear readers, about the brilliant idea (at least brilliant by comparison to the NOTHING I had before) I have had for what to write my thesis on. This will soon become a recurrent theme, I fear, so be prepared. But for now, simply celebrate or offer your thoughts on my thesis idea.

I work for the College of Engineering. I am an administrative assistant who is in touch with both professors and students on a daily basis. Several of both have opinions that they like to share with me about English literature and writing.

I've been contemplating going for a PhD in Rhetoric and Composition, which means I perhaps should move in that direction during my MA days. That's when the idea occurred to me (this past weekend, actually, around breakfast time): What if I were to do research on creating a freshman composition/writing class geared toward engineers (or other technical/science fields) to teach them the skills they need to use for their professional lives? It wouldn't be "technical writing" per se, but help them realize that the same skills that go into writing an academic essay are the same that they will employ when writing a lab report or a project proposal.

The project would have several parts. In the first, I would examine the need for freshman composition in the first place (which obviously I would argue there is a need for it). Then I would do research on alternative methods of teaching such a class. I'm planning to interview several of the engineering professors, and perhaps some engineering firms/employers and students to further assess what the class should contain, then I would build a syllabus, reading list, and prospective course to teach.

I'm really excited about this project because I can see the implications for my university for one, but it might perhaps be of interest to other programs as well. A little tweaking, and the same concepts could be applied to other programs of study. I'm also excited because it is a lot of fun to design a class--I loved the one that I did for my professing literature class. It was a lot of fun, and my professor really loved it.

Anyway, there's the thesis idea. I've pitched it to my potential thesis adviser and am now awaiting a reply. And I've already mentioned to the engineering professors I want to use in it, and they've all been excited as well, so I have a feeling this is going to be my project! Yay for thesis ideas!


the secret knitter said...

Best of luck! I think it's a very good idea. Having three engineer brothers of my own, I know that they undervalued writing/English classes. Or at least that's the impression they gave to me.

Khakionion said...

Interesting idea, I'd say go for it!

IMO, developing a class is the best way to fully grok that which you're studying. My Honors thesis wasn't too great until I decided to create a syllabus and teach a class. That really made me look into the field on a much deeper level, and find connections and theories that weren't immediately apparent/accessible.

Donna B. said...

It's a very good idea. I imagine there's a fairly rich (if perhaps narrow) vein in the higher education literature about related and similar topics -- that's good, because it means you will not be starting from scratch. Scholarship stands on the shoulders of others, so take advantage of what they've done and make it better (more nuanced, more broad, and more practical).