Friday, 27 May 2011

Tackling the Big T

In the beginning and during the studies the Bachelor’s thesis at the end of them seems very distant and, to be honest, a little scary. You get an idea of what it is supposed to be: a final training of gathering the right information, learning to research the right things relevant to the topic, using accurate academic language in the text, and, most importantly, going through the process that is the creation of a thesis. However, in practice the beginning of the whole process is nothing but complete chaos, at least for me it seemed that way. It’s a big task, the last crunch if you will, before the completion of a Degree, and usually the last milestone before graduation.
I wrote the thesis with a friend of mine on the topic of assessing and developing the Degree Programme in Tourism. The topic was chosen because the programme is fairly new, and perhaps therefore still finding its steady foothold in its standard operations. The topic isn’t really in connection with the tourism industry, but for us it was too interesting a topic to ignore.

Studying in the Degree Programme in Tourism....the view from my future office, perhaps?
The beginning of our thesis came about while taking the bus to class with a friend of mine, who studies in the same degree programme. She suggested that maybe we should think about writing the thesis together. My first reaction was relief: I wouldn’t have to do it alone, as I had a feeling it could take me a year or two if no one was there to push me a bit. The second reaction, though, was concern – could we work together on something as demanding as this, and still remain friends? However, relief won, and we decided to write the thesis together. After the idea of a topic, and its acceptance, it was like stepping into this vast unknown territory. I had a very vague idea of the whole thing, despite the academic writing and research courses I know I took somewhere along the line….

Reading material, anyone?
After the few initial meetings with our supervisor, and me slightly panicking after each one, we were able to get to work. We took to the library, trying to find whatever we could that had even remotely something to do with our topic. We created a questionnaire to be used in collecting the data, and handed it out to our research sample, which consisted of the students and teachers of the DpT. We studied various subjects such as curriculum development, research methods, the concept of a University of Applied Sciences, as well as a whole bunch of other subjects.  The literature we read seemed a bit useless in the beginning, but in hindsight it was all worth it when the time came to write and “connect the dots” between the data and theory.

Somewhere along the line the thesis started to form almost as on its own, and it became clearer what it should include and how it would be put together. It’s not an easy task, I can tell you, and it takes a lot of both physical and mental work. Like our supervisor told us in the beginning, the process will sort of carry you along once it gets started properly. I didn’t believe her then, as it all seemed so confusing and nearly impossible, but at this point I can say she was absolutely right.

Me during the last couple of weeks.
The writer is Janita Nurmi, a student of the Degree Programme in Tourism, who is currently doing her practical training in the R&D and Education Services of TAMK. She is hoping to graduate in the fall and go on to conquer the world.

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