Module 6: Research EKIS600

Advanced studies

Michael Coleman
Paula Kalaja
Sirpa Leppänen
Päivi Pahta
Arja Piirainen-Marsh

Target group: The Seminar is compulsory for all students with English as their major subject and for all other students who intend to write a Pro Gradu thesis on the English language. Regular attendance in the Seminar is required until your project has reached a stage where you can proceed independently and bring the Pro Gradu to completion in accordance with a plan negotiated with your supervisor (a minimum of one term).

Aim and content: The purpose of the seminar is to provide guidance and support for the planning and writing of the Pro Gradu thesis. The Seminar provides an active working environ-ment in which you can plan and carry out your research task with feedback and advice from both your supervisor and other students. It offers both resources and practical help for working on your project and managing the research and writing process.

The aim of the Seminar is to help you make progress with your project and make sure that you have the necessary skills and resources to bring the work to completion. Working on your own project is very time-consuming and it is crucial that you plan your weekly schedule so that you have enough time for working on your project during the Seminar. Work in the Seminar proceeds step-by-step following the research process. Stages in the process typically include identifying a topic and/or research problem, collecting relevant information, choosing appropriate methods for investigating the topic and analysing and interpreting results. However, the nature of the process varies according to the purpose of your project. As the outcome of seminar work, each student will be expected to produce a research proposal and written work based on the project (e.g. drafts of chapters for the thesis). After the Seminar, work on the Pro Gradu continues through independent study and regular meetings with your supervisor.

Michael Coleman: The purpose of this seminar is to help students begin work on their Pro Gradu thesis. From the first meeting the emphasis will be on helping students develop hypotheses, locate sources, begin research and planning of the thesis, write a thesis proposal, and begin work on a first draft. Students interested in any Cultural and Social Studies field are welcome; also those interested in examining literature from historical/ cultural/social perspectives, and interested in educational issues (educational history, autobiography and education, textbook analysis, etc).
Paula Kalaja: This seminar is primarily for those who wish to do research on aspects of Second/Foreign Language Learning or Teaching, or other linguistic topics (e.g. sociolinguistics, discourse analysis). Also welcome to this group are those students who are considering designing theoretically driven sets of teaching materials for specific groups of learners of English as a Second/Foreign Language (instead of a theoretical review, or an empirical study of a body of data). This is a feasible alternative for future EFL teachers.

The idea is to get each student to finish (at least) a few chapters of the Pro Gradu thesis before leaving the seminar - with guidance/support/feedback provided in the process not only by the instructor but also by  the other students attending the seminar. However, before proceeding so far students are first expected to get familiar with library facilities/searches, aspects of doing research (e.g. frameworks, data collection/analysis methods) or designing teaching materials (e.g. needs, syllabi, teaching methods) and the format(s) of a Pro Gradu thesis (overall organization, style, etc.) and to write a feasible (research) proposal (with narrowed-down research questions/ problems) and preferably conduct a pilot study or test a small sub-set of  the material designed for its suitability for the target group of learners.

Sirpa Leppänen and Anne Pitkänen-Huhta: This seminar is for those students who are interested in discourse and literacy studies.  Their thesis work can  relate to (i) discourse analysis of written media and institutional texts, (ii) language and gender and (iii) stylistic, literary and narrative analysis of fiction, film and translations, (iv) literacy in the community (e.g. people’s everyday uses of texts), and (v) literacy in the institutions (especially in education).
Particularly welcome are students who are interested in investigating uses and functions of English in Finnish society and who are willing to link their Pro Gradu thesis with on-going research project on English in Finland in the department (for more information, see http://www.jyu.fi/varieng). Projects related to questions or tasks in the language expert’s work (e.g. documentation, technical writing, localisation, translation) are also welcome.
The seminar is designed so that it will give support and guidance to students who wish to begin serious and committed work on their Pro Gradu thesis and to get their writing process well on the way. The minimum requirement for the autumn term is the production of an explicit research proposal for the thesis in which the main elements of the study are specified (15+ pages). The minimum requirement for the spring term part of the seminar is 25+ pages of thesis text.

The seminar will also offer information on central aspects of planning, doing and reporting on research. As working methods we will use collaborative group and pair work, and a course diary. In addition, part of the course work will take place in a virtual learning environment (Optima). At the end of the seminar we will have a mini-conference where everyone is expected to give an oral or poster presentation of her/his work.

Päivi Pahta:
This seminar is primarily for students who interested in language variation, language contact or language change. Their thesis work can relate to e.g. social, situational or regional varieties of English; bilingualism or language contact phenomena involving English; or any aspect of long-term or short-term changes in English. The seminar offers practical advice, guidance and support during the process of planning and writing the Pro Gradu thesis. As working methods we will use collaborative group work, including discussions of the students' own projects, and a course diary. During the first term, students are expected to produce a research proposal, specifying the main elements of their thesis, and to present it to the seminar group. In the second term, the aim is to produce 2-4 draft chapters of the thesis. Towards the end of the seminar year, each student will give an oral presentation of their pro gradu project in its current state.

Arja Piirainen-Marsh:
This seminar is mainly for students who are interested in pragmatics, discourse and interaction, bilingualism and English as an international language. Students interested in topics related to (1) the use of English in media, professional, and educational settings (English voices project, see http://www.jyu.fi/tdk/hum/englanti/EnglishVoices/index.htm) and (2) aspects of discourse and interaction in everyday, professional or institutional (e.g. media, classroom) settings are especially welcome. The seminar offers practical advice, guidance and support during the process of planning and writing the Pro Gradu thesis. Seminar work will be based on group discussion of the students’ own projects. During the seminar students will be required to produce a research proposal, give at least two oral presentations based on their project, and complete 3-4 chapters of their Pro Gradu thesis. In addition, they compile a report about the current stage of their research and a work plan which presents an outline of the study and schedule for completing the thesis.

Kielten laitoksen yhteisessä ohjelmassa on lisäksi teemaseminaareja, joilla voi täydentää englannin pro gradu -seminaaria tai korvata sen. Jos tämä vaihtoehto kiinnostaa, neuvottele tutkielmasi ohjaajan kanssa.

Kielten laitoksen yhteiset seminaarit:


Kielten laitoksen yhteistä opetusta; lisätiedot Korpissa.

Matti Rahkonen

Lisätiedot Korpissa.

EFIS699  Pro Gradu Thesis 40 pts

(Master's Thesis)

Aim and content: Writing the Pro Gradu thesis develops the skills required in independent academic study and scientific research. Most of these skills are also required in the types of professional task that studies in English prepare you for. The overall purpose of writing the thesis is to train students in searching and collecting information from various sources, analysing and evaluating this information critically and using it to plan and carry out a research task. This involves identifying a problem or question that is of academic/scientific and/or professional interest, making use of appropriate methods for investigating this problem, analysing and interpreting relevant information or data, and producing a written report in which the results of the project are presented and evaluated. Writing the thesis also develops your ability to present the outcome of your project in a clear and coherent fashion.
There are three alternative types of Pro Gradu thesis that you can choose as the target of your project:

1)  Research report

The purpose of a research-oriented report is to identify and solve a specific research question or problem using concepts and methods offered by a particular field of study. The nature of the research task can be theoretical and/or empirical, in other words you can aim to evaluate and develop existing theory or to investigate the problem through collecting and analysing your own data. You can make use of previous work when choosing a task: you can, for example, plan a project that expands and develops a Proseminar paper or a previous course paper. Another option is to join a research project in progress and work on a topic related to the core research areas in the studies of English. Your supervisor will give information on this option.

2)  Review of literature in a particular field of research
A thesis of this type is based mainly on research literature and other relevant sources (e.g. the internet). Its aim is to provide a critical summary and review of research carried out in a particular area of study or research that addresses a particular problem or question. The literature to be reviewed may address a theoretical or practical problem (e.g. a question related to language learning and / or teaching). The purpose of the project is to look for and critically evaluate information related to the topic or task selected, and to produce a coherent report in which some conclusions are drawn on the basis of the review.
3)  Research task with professional orientation

The purpose of this type of project is to carry out, and write a report on, a research task or practical task related to your future career. Tasks that are suitable for this include the development of teaching or training materials, carrying out a translation task, evaluating, producing and developing professional texts, and analysing and developing professional practices. This type of project requires both a theoretical, research-based understanding of the task and knowledge of the professional aims and practices that must be considered in order to complete the task successfully.

Please note that there is overlap between the three alternatives. Your supervisor will help decide what type of project is most suitable for you.
Assessment: Completed theses will be read by at least two examiners who grade it in accordance with the regulations of the Faculty. The grading of theses follows the Faculty grading scale: Pass, Good, Excellent. For further details, see www.jyu.fi/hum/.

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