Senior Thesis Prepares Students for College Level Research and Writing
By: Mrs. Halaine Steinberg, Director of College Guidance
Seniors capped off their Beth Tfiloh academic careers by delving deeply into a wide array of research topics for their senior thesis writing and research project.
From pet therapy to neighborhood gentrification, 3D printed organs to the public’s trust in scientific research, and the psychology of language acquisition to the influence of Barbie, Beth Tfiloh’s senior class delved deeply into a wide array of research topics as they completed their senior thesis writing and research project. In its second year, the senior thesis assignment requires every 12th grade student to write a college level research paper in which they defend a position they have taken on a relevant topic of interest. Working with both their English teacher and a faculty mentor, students used a variety of primary and secondary sources to craft their papers.
Mr. Mike Bruner, BT High School English department chair and director of instruction, discussed the rationale behind this project. “It’s actually a cross-curricular assignment that gets students involved not only with teachers but with administrative and support staff, professionals from the Youth Center office and synagogue rabbis,” among others, who served as mentors. Not only do students receive the benefit of getting to work with teachers in areas outside of their classes, but they also reap the reward of writing a paper like the ones they will write in college. In some cases, students sent abstracts of their senior thesis to college admissions offices to augment their college applications.
Seniors appreciated the opportunity to delve into a research topic of interest and work with a mentor. Julia S. ’20, who investigated the opioid crisis in America, commented on the process: “Working with a mentor allowed me to organize my thoughts by speaking through them. As I did so, my mentor offered feedback and even an interesting idea that I referenced throughout my paper. At the end of my paper, I felt as though I had a much deeper understanding of the complexity of the opioid crisis in America, and I have already used the information I learned in one of my classes.”
Monica M. ‘20, writing about the recent drastic increase of ADHD diagnoses in the U.S., felt the paper was a great stepping stone to college writing assignments. “Overall, I think that this process did a great job of preparing me for writing at college because it forced me to plan my time accordingly throughout the months we were given to complete the paper, and it helped me better understand how to sift through loads of information to get the data necessary specifically for my topic,” she said.
Current juniors can look forward to the senior thesis as the capstone academic experience of their high school career. For those who may feel daunted by the prospect of writing such a comprehensive paper, Gaya F. ’20, who wrote about the future of shopping malls in an online shopping world, offered this insight: “This research process taught me that if I have the right information and ideas, writing a thesis isn’t very difficult.”