The technical work is intended to prepare students for scientific work. But how do you prepare students for technical work? It was and is a rather traumatic experience for many students because they do not know beforehand what to expect and feel left alone afterward. But of course, that doesn’t have to be the case if you get enough help right from the start. Here we have put together 11 tips – a lot of it may be taken for granted, but read it once too often rather than too seldom!
Clarify all framework conditions
So that all students know what they are getting into from the start, the following questions should be clarified with them in advance. At first, this seems natural, but experience reports show that clear information on sick leave and handover is sometimes neglected.
- When should your students start work, and when is the deadline?
- What is the scope of the work? Make it clear that too long is as bad as too short. At the university, there may be deductions if you exceed the specified length!
- How (how bound, how many copies) and where or to whom does the thesis have to be submitted?
- Do the students have to sign an affidavit of the scientific work?
- What happens if you get sick – do you need a certificate?
- Under what circumstances do you get an extension?
- How does the result flow into the final grade?
Show your students where and how they can get the necessary literature on their topic and distinguish citable sources from non-citable sources (keyword Wikipedia).
If you specify the thesis topic, it is best to take a quick look yourself whether, how, and how quickly literature can be obtained (even nowadays, the interlibrary loan still takes time!). And if the students choose their topics after consultation, they should start researching before they are finally determined. Sometimes, during the literature review, a topic is too complex, too unexplored, or the basic assumption is too wrong to write about.
Does the school require interim reports to keep track of the work status? This can be very helpful, as students often cannot yet estimate the workload and therefore have problems with time management. Because when you have written the last word, you are far from finished: layout, proofreading (always let someone else do it!) And printing takes longer than you think.
Selection and limitation of the topic
This is probably the most important point on this list: Make sure that the topic does not become too extensive but remains appropriate for a specialist thesis. Otherwise, you will unsettle or overwhelm your students. For example, “The figure of the dragon in older and more recent fantasy literature” would probably be more suitable for a bachelor thesis at the university.
Additional tip: Students will spend a lot of time on their technical work, and it will be easier to work if you are interested in the topic. Remind them if you feel some subjects were chosen just to impress you as a teacher!
Structure (long) texts correctly
Pupils have probably never written such a long text before their thesis. You have to pay attention to more than that. The work includes an introduction, the central part, and a summary. How do you create a meaningful structure from your content, and how do you divide subtopics into paragraphs? How are paragraphs structured? Is the language appropriate?
Extra tip: Point out the search function to your students. Most of the time, you notice after a few pages that you have certain “favorite words” that you use over and over again. If you search the document specifically for these, this can be easily remedied by replacing or reformulating corresponding words with synonyms.
There are many ways to quote correctly – the only important thing is that it is consistent in work. Most students have never done this before. Regardless of whether you (or your school) want to use the German variant (footnotes) or the Harvard method (author and year in brackets in the text), teach your students a variant and make sure that it is consistent is carried out. Then the students must learn right from the start when exactly quotations are marked. This includes verbatim quotes in direct and indirect speech and core ideas that are reproduced in your own words.
Introduction and conclusion
The introduction should give a general overview of the topic and then introduce it in detail (and sometimes what it is not about). Some students prefer to write them after their discussion – others use this to get their way into the topic and articulate it for themselves. Both are, of course, possible, but in the second case, the introduction should be rechecked afterward. Otherwise, it can happen that it no longer fits the content afterward.
The conclusion is more than just a summary at best. A good decision closes the arc to the introduction and concludes the observations that were recorded in between. Finally, an outlook on the future or other related topics can be given.
Cover sheet and layout specifications
At the university, as a teacher, you had to hand in so much homework yourself that the requirements for the format are practically second nature. For most students, however, it is entirely new territory. So that they learn immediately what is important, specify how the work should be structured: What should be written where on the cover sheet? Which line spacing should the students use, which font and which font size? How wide should the margins be?
Show examples or use templates – your students will thank you.
A correct bibliography goes hand in hand with proper citations. According to a uniform system, all sources must be listed again in the bibliography. On the other hand, literature that you read during the research but not mentioned in the thesis in terms of content is not listed.
Table of Contents
It helps if you specify how you want the table of contents to be. Automatically generated directories are helpful but can become problematic if you change headings afterward or manually enter new ones.
Read Also: Best Timeless Exam tips
In the meantime, the decimal structure has established itself formally. It is essential that sub-items never stand alone but that there must always be at least two. In addition, there is no point after the last number – this also applies to the individual main points!
This point should really go without saying but is often forgotten in the heat of the moment, or there is simply no time to do it. The problem is, the brain is incredibly good at overlooking its own mistakes – especially when it’s 3 a.m. on the day of filing. Especially when you rearrange sentences, you sometimes fail to adjust them grammatically or put the words back into the correct order. But it’s not just the content that needs to be checked: Is all the information on the cover sheet correct? Do the chapters match the table of contents, are the page numbers correctly numbered? Is the bibliography accurate?
But since you know in your head what the sentence should be, you overlook the errors. Therefore, the work should definitely be read through with fresh eyes!