College Women's Perception of Reality Dating Programs
by Jennifer Isherwood
Dept. of Psychology, 2010
Thesis Advisor: Professor John Shaw
Q: When did you start thinking about your thesis?
A: I came up with a vague idea around the end of my sophomore year. I fleshed it out much more the fall of my junior year. By the end of the fall semester, I believe I had some general hypotheses. I started my thesis a semester early – in spring of my junior year.
Q: How did you start tackling your thesis project at the very beginning?
A: Using PsycInfo, I searched for as many psychology studies relevant to my topic (reality dating, gender roles, dating attitudes, influence of television, etc.) that I could find in order to find support for my hypotheses and to start developing some methodology.
Q: Did your advisor explain the structure of a thesis project to you?
A: Yes, he gave me a fairly decent idea of what to expect in the beginning, regarding expectations, drafts and deadlines, and my eventual proposal defense. The final semester when I conducted my study and analyzed my results also went fairly smoothly, although there’s always a time crunch before the final defense. I would say the second semester was much more structured regarding when I needed to have my data collected, etc.
Q: Did you have to do a literature review? Had you ever done one before?
A: Yes, that was primarily what I did the entire first semester. I had never done one before.
Q: Do you remember receiving correspondence from the library about your honors thesis?
A: Not directly, although I did rely on PsycInfo to retrieve my studies. I believe I also used ILL fairly frequently, and that was pretty prompt.
Q: What did you find most challenging about your thesis project?
A: The second semester collecting data wasn’t the most tangibly difficult, but it was very tedious and frustrating when the results weren’t what I expected. I think one of the other challenging aspects was the continuous revisions and drafts, which sometimes seemed endless! However, the multiple drafts also reminded me how much effort I was investing into my thesis, and so it motivated me more, in a sense.
Q: What did you find most rewarding about your thesis project?
A: I absolutely loved developing my own idea and watching it come to fruition after a year of work. I enjoyed the self-motivating aspect. This project was mine and was entirely dependent on my ability to remain dedicated.
Q: What assistance did your advisor/department offer you throughout the course of the year?
A: My advisor (Professor Shaw) was immensely helpful. He gave me comments and made suggestions on all of my drafts. We met weekly to brainstorm hypotheses and methodology for my experiment. He also trained me to use SPSS, the statistical program I used for my analyses. His input and support were invaluable. The psychology department more generally was fairly helpful regarding access to measures I needed and supporting me at my proposal and defense.
Q: Did you meet with librarians in the course of conducting your research? How many times and at what stages of your research?
A: I may have asked a librarian for help finding some journals, but I never met officially to discuss my thesis. I suppose I certainly could have, although I guess because my research was limited to PsycInfo and an actual study, it may not have been as relevant as it would be for other departments, such as history or religious studies.
Q: What other kind of support did you rely on throughout the year to accomplish your thesis (IT, parents, friends, etc.)?
A: My friends served as participants for the pilot study I conducted between my first and second semesters. They and my parents were also very supportive of me throughout the entire process, especially during the times when I was stressed out.
Q: Were you able to get access to all of the research materials you wanted for your project?
A: For the most part. It was a bit difficult accessing some of the measures I needed for the study, but I was able to finally get them.
Q: Would you do anything differently if you went through the process again?
A: Hmm…there were some suggestions made at my defense regarding certain methods and analyses I used that I may have changed if I could do the study again. I would also work much harder to get more participants! Other than that, however, I was pretty happy with how my thesis turned out.
Q: What advice would you offer other honors thesis students, especially in your department?
A: Choose an advisor you know well and on whom you can rely. Stay on top of your work—it’s not your advisor’s job! Make sure you’re passionate about your topic, because you will easily tire of it if you’re not. Be confident during your project and, especially during your defense—you’re the expert now!