Frequently Asked Questions
How am I assigned to an advisor?
At the beginning of the fall semester, there will be a meeting of all senior I.S. students with the faculty members of the department. At this meeting there will be an exchange of ideas and research interests. Based on this exchange, the chair of the department will assign one advisor and one reader to each student. Not all first choices can be honored because of the popular nature of some topics. Because I.S. is to be your own work and not simply doing the bidding of your advisor, your I.S. topic does not have to exactly match the teaching/research specialty of your advisor.
My classmates seem to be much further ahead in their work than I am. Am I behind?
Other students often give an impression to their peers that is not entirely realistic. Even so, different projects proceed at different rates. Data collection for one project might be speedy, but statistical analysis might take much longer than others. It is usually not easy to compare your progress with other students in psychology and it is nearly impossible to compare with those in other departments. Look to your advisor (often) for information concerning your progress.
How much help should I expect from my "reader"?
The reader has been assigned to evaluate your finished product. While it is always possible to seek help and advice from any faculty member both within and outside of the department, your reader is not assigned to be part of the development process in your I.S. The reader will give approval concerning ethical standards met by your research proposal.
I hear there is a "quota" on the number of honors that can be awarded in the department. Should this worry me?
There is no quota or maximum number of honors. However, honors grades are reserved for theses of exceptional quality. Every thesis with this high quality will receive the grade of honors.
I've done everything expected of me in I.S., but I only recieved a passing grade. Why didn't I receive honors?
Almost all College of Wooster students work harder on their I.S. than they have ever worked in any other course. A truly high quality I.S. will reflect the culmination of all the preparatory work that you have done throughout your first 3 years at Wooster. When all of these developed skills are brought to bear on a focussed project in the senior year, then honors is often a result. The time allotted for I.S. is very limited. Any catching up that has to be done during the project often results in compromises in other areas. Honors is awarded to theses that do not contain any deficiencies (neither commitive nor omitive) in any area.
How are orals scheduled?
It is up to you to find a time that is convenient for you, your advisor, and your reader. You will want to schedule one hour for the oral examination, no earlier than one week after the thesis has been received by the department.
How much feedback on my drafts can I expect from my advisor?
Advisors differ in their opinions concerning the appropriate amount of feedback that is proper for you to develop your I.S. While some advisors want to see many drafts and will write substantial suggestions to you, others believe that they cannot distinguish their own writing from yours if they provide more than a single reading and comment on one draft. You should be sure to come to a clear understanding with your advisor about the number of drafts that are expected from you and the nature of the feedback that your advisor will provide. This should be done very early in the first semester.
How often should I meet with my advisor?
Again, you should come to an understanding with your advisor about this very early in the first semester. Usually, once a week is considered minimum. You should also discuss with your advisor how your progress will be monitored. What should you expect to have done on what dates? Make a timetable for yourself and share it with your advisor.
The College of Wooster doesn't have the resources I need for my particular topic.
If this is true, you probably have chosen the wrong topic. Some topics are not well suited for empirical study. Others are suitable only at highly specialized institutions. You will have a much more rewarding experience in I.S. if you choose a topic that has many local resources available.
How long should an I.S. be? How many resources should I include?
Look at the theses from past years in the departmental library. Compare those that received honors with the others. While there can of course be no set number of pages or references that are required for I.S., a brief look at the old theses will give you an idea of what is expected.
Is my I.S. due before or after Spring Break?
Two bound copies of your thesis are due in the registrar's office on the first day of classes after Spring Break. As far as the department of Psychology is concerned, it is due before Spring Break begins. Your final draft should be done before the recess, with only minor corrections and touch-up to be done, if at all, over the break. Your advisor is not obliged to provide any advice or feedback for work taking place over the break. When the spring recess begins, you may find yourself on your own. Do not plan on using the spring break for making up time lost to procrastination. Because of the nature of psychology research, it simply cannot be done.
Will I.S. drive me crazy?
In a word, yes. There are ways to prevent completely losing your mind during your senior year, though. Break your I.S. project down into small, concrete goals and objectives. Work regularly for short periods of time rather than planning marathon sessions. See your I.S. as a finite project with a clearly defined final paper as its result. There are thousands of survivors of Wooster's I.S. out there. You will be, too.