Pilot Study Helping Students Write Master’s Thesis
University of Findlay’s Master of Arts in Rhetoric and Writing Program (MARW) graduates have researched fascinating topics ranging from the illusion that there is such a thing as online privacy to effective college writing center tutoring techniques. But that doesn’t mean that completing a thesis, requiring a minimum 70 pages, is easy. Program director Christine Tulley, Ph.D., has therefore teamed up with British-based company Prolifiko on a pilot study with a two-fold purpose: to assist students with that process, and to better understand how academics write.
Prolifiko describes itself as “a personal, digital coaching platform” that helps people “dedicate more time, energy and attention to writing.” Participants can tailor their overall goals, and more easily set writing parameters by dedicating smaller chunks of time to smaller content areas, or “tasks.” The idea is to make an initially overwhelming project more manageable, and to provide a platform for continuous motivation.
“We help individuals dedicate more time to their research, find a routine that works for them and fight the everyday procrastination, writing blocks and barriers that writers face,” explained Prolifiko co-founder Chris Smith. The “micro-steps,” he said, also offer an opportunity for self-reflection about the writing process so that individuals can identify patterns, and consequently develop better writing habits. A coaching center and one-on-one expert support are available too.
Tulley said eight MARW students now working on their theses are part of the pilot study to see if the online tool will provide appreciable assistance. She is also serving as a research consultant for Prolifiko, which is conducting its own study on graduate student and faculty writing habits through a survey.
“I’m hoping the program offers the support needed if writers struggle to write independently,” Tulley said.
The pilot study will end in August 2019, when all members of the current thesis cohort have completed their papers.