The Bachelor's thesis is one of the last major hurdles before graduation. It requires students to work independently on a specific scientific question. The choice of topic is up to the students and offers the opportunity to deepen their own interests. Finding a suitable topic can sometimes prove challenging. MCiT lecturer Teresa Spieß accompanies our Management, Communication & IT Bachelor students with the course Empirical Social Research on the way to finding a topic for their thesis. In this interview, Ms. Spieß provides insights into the course and individual students share their learning process with us.
Interview questions for the lecturer, Teresa Spieß:
Ms. Spieß, what is the goal of the course Empirical Social Research?
On the one hand, the course supports students in finding a topic for their Bachelor's thesis, in learning the methods of empirical social research, and then leads to the integration of the content by having students create a pitching template and write a reflection paper at the end. The Empirical Social Research course is in the 4th semester of the MCiT Bachelor's degree program.
What didactic concept do you base this course on?
The course Empirical Social Research is divided into different modules from different areas. It starts with an introduction to the contents of the first semester of the course Scientific Work by my colleague Elisabeth Rabanser and me. After that, we get into the topic development with a topic workshop, in which my colleagues Christian Ploder and Stephan Schlögl also participate. The Bachelor students develop topic circles and get input from the three of us, which works great because we are having different backgrounds. After the topic development, the students get an insight into different research methods, among others also from Gundula Glowka and Thomas Dilger. Finally, there are interactive coaching sessions, which then lead to the completion of pitching templates and reflection papers.
As a lecturer, what are your requirements for the course Empirical Social Research?
I think it is important that the students reflect on their individual process of finding a topic ¬ which can sometimes be marked by setbacks. The aim is for them to recognize their own share of actions in the success or failure accordingly and, building on this, to be able to derive a plan for future work. If students can do this, a solid foundation has been laid.
The topics for the MCiT Bachelor’s thesis are very diverse and cover a huge range: from Influencer Marketing to Human Computer Interaction to Big Data, etc. How comes?
The Management, Communication & IT study program itself also covers a wide range of topics. We are lucky enough to accompany different talents with different interests. Students choose their specialization during their studies, which explains the wide range of topics.
If you were to give your students one piece of "wise advice" with regard to writing their Bachelor's thesis. What would that be?
I would like to recommend four points to my students: 1) Apply the knowledge you have acquired in your studies in the area of project management; this will prove useful. 2) Ask for help when you need it. You don't have to understand everything yourself. It makes perfect sense to involve people who can help you. 3) Make the work your work. If you are actively involved with your ideas, it will be visible in the success of the work. 4) And last but not least: successes should be celebrated.
Statements by individual students:
Students sometimes describe the process of finding a topic for their Bachelor's thesis as a "roller coaster ride of emotions": To what extent can you underline this?
"Finding that feel-good theme that will accompany us students for a full year is indeed an emotional matter. The result of the work is only apparent at the end and the uncertainty as to whether one is (still) on the right path is therefore great. Too many options and sometimes too much expectation of oneself complicate the process of finding a topic, and that's where it can happen that you feel a slight sense of despair." Lisa Oberascher
"Personally, I can't describe the topic finding process for the Bachelor’s thesis with a "oller coaster ride of emotions. For me, the topic was clear pretty quickly! Finding a suitable research question and an appealing title presented a challenge for a short time. However, with the inspiration and help of my professors and after many discarded and revised ideas, I managed to clarify my open questions and create a pitching template with all the necessary information." Marina Müller
"I didn't expect that in the fourth semester it would already start with finding a topic for the Bachelor’s thesis. We were literally thrown in at the deep end here. However, the course Empirical Social Research gave me an overview of the various research methods. In addition, I received good input from the lecturers, which meant that I came across an interesting topic." Fabian Bachlechner
"Looking back, I would describe my path of finding a topic for my Bachelor's thesis like a roller coaster ride with many ups and downs. Over the weeks, some low points arose in the process, with the feeling of never finding the right topic or the difficulty of narrowing down a topic concretely enough. Nevertheless, in between the low points ¬ just like a roller coaster ride ¬ there were some high points and moments of success, as I was able to concretize and refine my topic more and more over time." Lisa Eberhöfer