Thesis Tutorial Lab
NMDS 5952
School of Media Studies
The New School
Spring 2020

Instructor: Peter Asaro asarop AT
Time & Location: ONLINE & Tuesdays 8:00-9:50pm Room 1004, 6 E 16th St.

Course webpage is here:

Course Description

This course supports students working on their Masters Thesis projects for the Master of Arts in Media Studies degree.

Open only to M.A. degree candidates who have completed their Thesis Proposal the semester prior. Students refine their project and begin research and production. The class mixes group workshops, in which students give progress reports and receive feedback, and one-on-one meetings with the Tutorial instructor and thesis advisors. By the end of the semester each student will have produced the first draft of his/her thesis, and will complete the thesis during the subsequent semester(s).

OFFICE HOURS: By Appointment

Please email me to setup an appointment.


Welcome to Thesis Tutorial

The goal of Thesis Tutorial is to encourage and guide your research for your thesis. You should already have an approved Thesis Proposal, signed by your First Reader (Thesis Advisor) and Second Reader, and submitted to School of Media Studies, prior to enrolling in Thesis Tutorial. Please contact me if you do not.Because every Thesis is different, the structure of Thesis Tutorial is one of guided peer-learning and sharing. Which means students mainly share their research projects, questions, methods, strategies, issues and challenges with each other and receive helpful criticism and feedback from each other, as well as guidance and feedback from myself as the instructor.

This course has both on-line and on-site sections, which will be meeting in a hybrid setting. This will consist of audio recording of class sessions for on-line students. We will have both on-line and in-person presentations on your thesis projects, and to observe and respond to the presentations of your peers.

This course is graded Pass/Fail, and in order to Pass you must continue to meet with your Thesis Advisor (First Reader) and make progress on your Thesis, and complete ALL of the Tutorial Lab requirements: * One-on-one Meeting with me * Initial (Overview) Presentation of your Thesis Project to the group * Research Question written Exercise * Final (Research Question & Methods) Presentations of your Thesis Project to the group * Engage with and respond to peer presentations

You will have one short written assignment.  In it, you will write out your Research Question as clearly and succinctly as possible. You will then describe how you will Operationalize your Research Question, and the Research Methods you will deploy to answer it. You will also be expected to write a revised version of this assignment based on my feedback.

I strongly recommend that you review the readings for Week 4 "The Research Question: Formulation and Operationalization" of my research methods course Designing Methods for Media, which examines various ways of mixing methods to answer research questions about media, and prepares students to write a Thesis Proposal.  Depending on your project, the readings for the other weeks may also be helpful for you as you think about your methods.

A major theme of the Methods course is that your research question and methods will, and should, evolve as you get deeper into you research project. This is true at the Proposal stage, but also as you begin to conduct the research during Thesis Tutorial. The iterative improvement of your research question and methods, based on feedback and initial results and discovery, are key to any successful research project.

You will be expected to make 2 presentations of your Thesis project to this class during the semester, once towards the beginning and again at the end of the semester. Details for the objectives of each presentation are below.I will schedule a time and space for these on campus (for on-site students) or on-line in either real-time Skype sessions or pre-recorded digital presentations (for on-line students). Hopefully, on-line students will be able to participate as audience for the on-site sessions and vice versa.

You will all also have a one-on-one meeting with me to discuss your Thesis projects and progress. The first presentation of your Thesis project will be by the end of September. You should email me to arrange our first meeting to discuss your project in the first or second week of September. If you are on-line we can meet via Skype, and make arrangements for you to present your work on-line. The second presentation date will be before the end of the Semester.

Your Research Question Assignment, stating your research question and methods, will be due March 10.

Both presentations will be recorded in order to share with our on-line students, and on-line students will provide feedback. Presentations should aim to be 10 minutes long, with 5 minutes for questions. That is not much time so try to be concise and to the point, and recognize what your audience might already know and what you need to tell them. Practice your presentation for time. Powerpoints and other visuals are optional, but most students tend to use them.

Key Objectives for the First Presentation:

What is your research topic and why is it interesting?
What is your research question and why is it relevant?
How do you plan to answer your research question (methods)?
What results/impact do you expect from this project?

Key Objectives for the Second Presentation:

What are the early results of your research?
What was unexpected and what did you have to change about your research plan?
How do you plan to interpret your results?How do you plan to present your results?
What more do you need to do to complete the research, or what research questions have presented themselves for further research (after the thesis)?

By the end of this semester, you should be prepared to write your thesis, and register for Thesis Supervision.

*Important Note: Thesis Tutorial is not a substitute for meeting with your Thesis Advisor/First Reader as well as your Second Reader. It is your responsibility to schedule those meetings and maintain progress through a plan of work with them. Electronic Devices
The use of electronic devices (phones, tablets, laptops, cameras, etc.) is permitted when the device is being used in relation to the course's work. All other uses are prohibited in the classroom and devices should be turned off before class starts.

Academic Honesty and Integrity
Compromising your academic integrity may lead to serious consequences, including (but not limited to) one or more of the following: failure of the assignment, failure of the course, academic warning, disciplinary probation, suspension from the university, or dismissal from the university.

Students are responsible for understanding the University’s policy on academic honesty and integrity and must make use of proper citations of sources for writing papers, creating, presenting, and performing their work, taking examinations, and doing research. It is the responsibility of students to learn the procedures specific to their discipline for correctly and appropriately differentiating their own work from that of others. The full text of the policy, including adjudication procedures, is found at Resources regarding what plagiarism is and how to avoid it can be found on the Learning Center’s website:

The New School views “academic honesty and integrity” as the duty of every member of an academic community to claim authorship for his or her own work and only for that work, and to recognize the contributions of others accurately and completely. This obligation is fundamental to the integrity of intellectual debate, and creative and academic pursuits. Academic honesty and integrity includes accurate use of quotations, as well as appropriate and explicit citation of sources in instances of paraphrasing and describing ideas, or reporting on research findings or any aspect of the work of others (including that of faculty members and other students). Academic dishonesty results from infractions of this “accurate use”. The standards of academic honesty and integrity, and citation of sources, apply to all forms of academic work, including submissions of drafts of final papers or projects. All members of the University community are expected to conduct themselves in accord with the standards of academic honesty and integrity. Please see the complete policy here. . Intellectual Property Rights:

Week 1: January 21
Course Introduction

Week of January 28: NO CLASS!

Week 2: February 4
Initial Presentations

Week 3: February 11
Initial Presentations

Week 4: February 18
Thesis Formats & Literature Review


"Artist's Statement,"


"Literature Review,"

"Literature Reviews," University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Writing Center..

"Handouts," The New School, University Learning Center..

Week of February 25: NO CLASS!

Week 5: March 3

The Research Question: Formulation and Operationalization


Earlene Lipowski (2008), "Developing Great Research Questions," American Journal of Health System Pharmacists, Vol 65, Sept. 1, 2008, pp. 1667-1670.

"Developing a Thesis," Harvard University Writing Center.

Wayne Booth, Gregory Colomb, and Joseph Williams, The Craft of Research, 3rd Edition, "Chapter 3: From Topics to Questions," and "Chapter 4: From Questions to Problems," University of Chicago Press, 2008, pp. 35-66.

Martyn Shuttleworth, "Operationalization,"

Heinz von Foerster, "Perception of the Future and the Future of Perception," Instructional Science, R.W. Smith and G. F. Briske (eds.) New York: Elsevier, 1972, pp. 31-43.

Davydd J. Greenwood, "Theoretical Research, Applied Research, and Action Research: The Deinstitutionalization of Activist Research," in Engaging Contradictions: Theory, Politics, and Methods of Activist Scholarship, Charles R. Hale (ed.), Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 319-340.

Shoshana Zuboff, "Notes on Fieldwork Methodologies," in In the Age of the Smart Machine: The Future of Work and Power, New York: Basic Books, 1988: 423-429.

Christy Wampole, "The Perils of Abstraction," New York Times, November, 12, 2019.


"Conducting Research," Purdue OWL, Purdue University.

Week 6: March 10
Research Question Assignment Due

Week of March 17: NO CLASS! SPRING BREAK

Week 7: March 24
One-on-One Meetings (NO CLASS!)

Week 8: March 31
One-on-One Meetings (NO CLASS!)

Week 9: April 7
One-on-One Meetings (NO CLASS!)

Weeks of April 14 and 21: NO CLASS!

Week 10: April 28
Final Presentations

May 1: Final Thesis Presentations, 4:00-7:00PM, room 1618 SMS Loft (79 5th ave.)

Week 11: May 5
Final Presentations (if needed)