Introduction to Project for Language

1.1 Definition

(project or dissertation) is a written product of research designed and carried out by the student under the guidance of an assigned supervisor. It is not a summary of the literature or a critique of it or a report of research carried out by others though all these may form part of a project. It is a report of original investigation conceived and conducted by the student with the help of the supervisor.

1.2 Objectives

The Project aims at helping students to carry out systematic investigation of issues related to English language or communication, preferably in professional contexts, including educational contexts.

The Project is seen as a capstone learning experience. Students are encouraged to try out ideas, and not worry too much about perfection in the methodology and analysis. The write up should be clear, and should show careful critical reflection on what the writer tried to do and how it could be improved.

1.3 Intended Learning Outcomes
Upon completion of the subject, students will be able to:
a. demonstrate a high level of professional communicative competence in spoken and written English through oral progress reports and the final dissertation;
b. identify and analyse language related issues systematically and logically;
c. select, organise and integrate knowledge from one or more areas of English language studies to tackle topics selected for the project;
d. present research results in a clear, effective and convincing manner;
e. work critically and independently;
f. exercise sound judgement and develop intellectual curiosity;
g. display good skills in time and self management; and
h. apply problem-solving skills to careers, personal development and life-long

1.4 Qualities valued in a Capstone Project

Qualities that are valued in a capstone project are the soundness of the research rationale and theoretical framework; appropriateness of the design and execution of the research method; the quality of the data analysis and discussion of results; and the effectiveness of style, layout and presentation.

Soundness of the research rationale and theoretical framework
Soundeness of the research rationale refers to the extent to which a project identifies a new problem, uncovers previously unknown data, provides new insights into previously unresolved issues and problems, and where appropriate applies new methodology to the solution of a problem. A theoretical framework provides guidance for the project design and execution. The soundness is mainly reflected in the coherent discussion of relevant concepts and theories and research findings offered by previous research. A thorough literature review will enable the student to formulate a sound theroretical framework for the project.

Appropriateness of design and execution of the research method
The appropriateness of the methodology refers to the extent to which a project is able to apply relevant, appropriate and reliable tools, instruments, and methods to the collection, analysis and interpretation of data. This includes the rigour of data analysis.

Quality of the data analysis and discussion of results
This criterion refers to the extent to which the results are valid and to the extent that they provide insights into the research problems identified, research questions asked and related issues in the chosen field of inquiry.

Effectiveness of style, layout and presentation
Effectiveness of the style, layout and presentation refers to the degree to which a student’s dissertation communicates the research to the readers in a clear, concise and cohesive manner. Qualities that make up this criterion are logical and transparent organization, clear presentation and illustration of data and analysis, and effective language use that conforms to the conventions and norms of the academic communities.

  1. Supervision
  2. Capstone Project Requirements

3.1. Topic

The primary requirements for selecting a Capstone Project topic are: the project will provide the student with a meaningful opportunity to apply knowledge learned from the Programme to solving a research problem; and the project should be related wholly, or partially, to the study of English language or communication. In conceptualising and designing the project, students can consider one of the following directions:

  1. Students can follow usual approaches to designing and conducting a research project, applying skills and knowledge learnt from the subject Research Methods for Language Studies and other subjects.

The student, in consultation with academic staff of the Department of English, is responsible for determining the specific topic of research that he/she wishes to conduct. An ideal topic is one that allows a student to build on what he/she has learnt in the BAESP programme and to apply and expand that knowledge in the solution of new problems.

3.3 Research methods

There is no specific requirement on the types of research method used in the project. Students, in consultation with their supervisors, should determine the research approach appropriate to the problem investigated, taking into account the goal of a given project, the topic, the results that students wish to obtain, and so on. In some cases, qualitative methods are necessary; in others, quantitative methods should be used; and in still others, a mixed method approach may be optimal. In assessing the methods used in a project, the Programme Committee is concerned primarily with the extent to which the methods used render the data and results gathered valid and reliable.

3.4. The organization of the dissertation

The following can be seen as typical steps in organising and writing up a research study:

  1. identify a relevant topic
  2. delimit the topic by focusing on a particular area or problem
  3. explore the relevant literature and develop a theoretical framework for the study
  4. select an appropriate research approach for the design of the study
  5. collect data using appropriate instruments and samples
  6. apply the theoretical framework (analytical framework) to analyze the collected
  7. discuss and evaluate results with reference to the literature
  8. arrive at principled conclusions based on results
  9. make any relevant recommendations based on conclusions
  10. acknowledge limitations of the study and suggest directions for future research

Normally a dissertation begins with an introductory chapter which sets out the problem or question to be addressed. It is important that this chapter discusses the relevant literature and the background to the question under investigation so that readers understand the reasons for and the importance of the issue raised. What follows the introduction is a discussion of the research methods used, which may include a description of the research participants and other types and sources of data used, the techniques used in collecting the data, and the rationales for a particular method used. This is then followed by the detailed presentation and analysis of data and interpretation and explanation of the results with reference to the literature. The dissertation ends with a conclusion which spells out the central results of and findings from the research and their implications and significance.

Students are strongly urged to consult their supervisors in determining the most effective ways of organizing the body of a dissertation. In assessing the Capstone Project, the Programme Committee is not concerned with whether a dissertation follows a particular order of presentation or a particular format. Instead, the Committee is more concerned with the effectiveness with which the dissertation, through clear and transparent organization of the content, communicates clearly and powerfully the main points of the research.

3.7 Length

The recommended length for the dissertation is 6,000 words. This requirement serves as a rough guideline for the scope and size of a dissertation and applies to the text portion of the dissertation, including the data/figures/graphs and the prose that goes with it. The cover page, acknowledgemens, table of contents, abstract, references, and appendices are not included in the count. Students should not take the requirement as a minimum requirement. In assessing Capstone Projects, the Programme Committee is concerned primarily with the quality of the dissertation, not its quantity. As long as a dissertation deals with its topic in sufficient breadth and depth, it will be regarded favourably even if it falls somewhat short of the recommended length. Any attempt to pad the dissertation so as to satisfy the length expectation is not encouraged.

3.8 Margin

We recommend 1” for all sides except for the left margin which should be 1.5” for binding purposes.

3.9 Font size and spacing

We recommend Times New Roman Size 12 as the desirable font type and size. The text portion of the dissertation should follow a 1.5 line-spacing. Data such as figures, graphs, and numbers included as part of the main part of the dissertation may be single-spaced if necessary. Please allow enough spacing (e.g., double-spacing) between the data and the text that precedes and follows the data.

3.10 Numbering

Page Numbering. Each page of the dissertation, from the introduction to the bibliography and the appendices should be numbered consecutively and consistently.

Section Numbering. The dissertation should be divided into chapters, and chapters into sections and, if necessary, subsections. Each chapter, section, or subsection should be numbered consecutively and consistently and accompanied by chapter, section or subsection headings. Consult the Table of Contents in any published book for the way in which chapters, sections and subsections are numbered.

Data Numbering. The data including figures, graphs, tables, etc. should be numbered consecutively and consistently.

Note that page, section and data numbering are used to facilitate the comprehension of the content of a text on the part of readers. Thus, in the discussion and description of a particular problem, data set, etc., the author should make clear and unambiguous reference by identifying it through the numbering system he/she has created.

3.11 Referencing and academic integrity

In citing, quoting and referring to others’ works, students should follow the usual academic referencing conventions. The use of the style of the American Psychological Association (APA) is strongly encouraged. In the text, acknowledge the contribution by giving the name of the author, the year in which the work is published and also the page number in the case of a full quotation. For each work referred to in the text, provide the complete bibliographic reference at the end. For direct quotes, use proper punctuation marks. Check with your supervisor if questions arise.

4 Assessment

4.1 Key areas of assessment

In assessing dissertations, the BAESP Programme Committee places primary emphasis on the following four qualities: soundness of the research rationale and theoretical framework; the design and execution of the research method; the quality of the data analysis and discussion of results; and the effectiveness of style, layout and presentation. On the basis of these four qualities, the Programme Committee has developed a standardized assessment form to ensure fair and consistent evaluation of each dissertation. A sample copy of the assessment form is enclosed in Appendix B for your reference. The supervisor and the student are strongly encouraged to use this assessment form as a guideline in conducting the project.

6 Checklist of documents to be submitted

This checklist specifies the list of documents that students must submit together with the text portion of their dissertations. It provides a brief description of each of the documents required. Before submitting their dissertations, students must consult this checklist to make sure that their dissertations include all the required documents and they are presented in the sequence shown below.

a. Cover page
This page must identify the title of the project, the name of the author, the degree for which the dissertation is submitted, the department and institution and the date (Month, Day and Year). For a sample page, see Appendix A

b. Abstract
An abstract is a brief summary of the key points of the dissertation. An ideal abstract should identify the central objective or thesis of the project, the main methodology used, and the major results of the research project. Your abstract should be no more than 200 words in length and begin on a new page.

c. Acknowledgements
This page is your chance to identify the individual or individuals who have assisted you in the design, implementation and writing of your dissertation. These individuals may include your supervisors, teachers/students you have consulted during the project, people that have participated in the project by taking your surveys, etc. Your acknowledgments should start on a separate page.

d. Table of Contents
This page lists the headings of each chapter and section and subsection within a chapter and the page numbers in which they appear. This listing should include the abstract, acknowledgments, the chapters, sections and subsections of the dissertation followed by the bibliography and the appendices. Your table of contents should start on a new page.

e. List of Tables and Figures (if applicable)
This list identifies the location of all the tables and figures included in the text of the dissertation. This list should be presented on a separate page.

f. Text of the dissertation
This is where the text portion of your dissertation begins. An ideal dissertation starts with an introduction, is followed by the body, and ends with the conclusion. Your text should begin on a separate page.

g. References
References is a list of works you have referred to in the text of your dissertation. Identify only those works that you have made direct reference to in the dissertation. Start the References on a new page.

h. Appendices (if applicable)
An appendix is a place where you may include secondary but relevant materials of your research. It is not a place where crucial data are provided and analyzed. Crucial data and analyses should be presented as part of the text. It is important to keep in mind the word ‘secondary’ here. Nor is an appendix a dumping ground for everything you have done during the project. Make sure that the materials included in the text are ‘relevant’. In an appendix, you may include relevant transcripts of data, the actual questionnaires given to your research participants and other research tools , etc. Each appendix should start on a new page.

i. A Turnitin Report as a detachable attachment to the dissertation.

Appendix B: Sample Assessment Form

First / Second Marker’s Report

Marker’s Name:
Student Name:
Capstone Project title:
Date of Marking:

Marks (Grade):

Summary evaluation:

Specific criteria:

Soundness of research rationale and theoretical framework

Appropriateness of design and execution of research method

Quality of data analysis and discussion of results

Effectiveness of style, layout and presentation

Sample Solution