The basic question you should address in the capstone paper is: How has my M.A. TESOL academic training prepared me to be a practicing TESOL professional?
To answer this question, you should comprehensively discuss and document how the coursework undertaken at NEIU (or elsewhere) and other professional experiences have prepared you as a professional who is ready to engage in informed, reflective practice. That is, you will need to reflect on your coursework and professional experiences, and demonstrate how they influence, or will influence, your teaching practice and/or your role as a TESOL professional. Use the criteria in the Capstone Paper Evaluation Rubric below to guide you as you write.
In accordance with TESOL international standards, there are five domains that must be addressed by TESOL degree programs in order to prepare students to become TESOL professionals. Your capstone paper should include the following five domains:
Relevant TESOL Courses
(Note: Electives that are not included in this list will be considered through advising. Discuss which courses to include for each domain with your capstone advisor.)
TESL 402, TESL 420, TESL 427
TESL 445, one other course (e.g.,TESL 447, TESL 440)
TESL 410, one other course (e.g., TESL 406, TESL 442, TESL 451)
TESL 414, TESL 460
The final version of your capstone should include the following sections in this order:
- Title Page
- Table of Contents
- Language Domain
- Culture Domain
- Instruction Domain
- Assessment Domain
- Professionalism Domain
- Appendices (A - E)
The paper should be about 40 pages in length, double-spaced (not including the appendices), and include citations and a reference list. Use Times New Roman, font size 12, 1 inch margins. The introduction should be approximately 2 pages and provide background information about what led you to the M.A. TESOL program at NEIU. Some domains may be longer than others, but, you should plan to write approximately 6-8 pages per domain. Your conclusion should be approximately 1-2 pages. You are expected to use academic language since this is an academic paper. For capstone papers, research is not required, but make sure you include citations whenever you cite sources, using APA style.
Since theoretical and practical applications are the basis of the degree, one assignment from each domain needs to be included in the appendices and also be referenced in the paper to reveal your learning processes and understanding of the materials. Therefore, you will include appendices consisting of five assignments which should reflect what you have learned and are based in the five TESOL domains. Discussion of the importance of the assignment should be included in each domain. The assignments for Appendices should not include instructor comments.
- Plan ahead and start early. Collect pertinent assignments from each class you take for easy access when you’re writing.
- By the time you have finished 3 or 4 courses, you should meet with your capstone advisor to discuss specific expectations and to create a timeline for submitting sections of your paper for feedback.
- Share your early drafts with your capstone advisor in order to obtain formative feedback. It’s your responsibility to regularly contact your capstone advisor, update the advisor on your progress, and get feedback.
- Submit the final version to your capstone advisor 30 days before the last day of the semester. (You and your capstone advisor should decide the timeline for your capstone.) You will have an opportunity to make changes if necessary.
- Your revised capstone will be reviewed by another TESOL faculty member, who will have 30 days to read, evaluate it, and provide feedback.
- Make changes based on the second reader’s feedback if necessary. Then submit the final capstone paper to your capstone advisor. Once the capstone paper is approved, you will send a PDF copy to the department office manager. The department office manager will submit the capstone completion form, signed by both the capstone advisor and the second reader, to the Graduate Records Office, and you will be officially done with the capstone project.
Does Not Meet Expectations
Depth of Reflection
Response demonstrates an in-depth reflection on, and personalization of, the theories, concepts, and/or strategies presented in the course materials to date. Viewpoints and interpretations are insightful and well supported.
Clear, detailed examples are provided, as applicable.
Response demonstrates a general reflection on, and personalization of, the theories, concepts, and/or strategies presented in the course materials to date. Viewpoints and interpretations are supported. Appropriate examples are provided, as applicable.
Response demonstrates a minimal reflection on, and personalization of, the theories, concepts, and/or strategies presented in the course materials to date. Viewpoints and interpretations are unsupported or supported with flawed arguments. Examples are not provided or are irrelevant.
Response demonstrates a lack of reflection on, or personalization of, the theories, concepts, and/or strategies presented in the course materials to date. Viewpoints and interpretations are missing, inappropriate, and/or unsupported. Examples are not provided.
Synthesis of Ideas
Response shows strong evidence of a synthesis of ideas presented and insights gained throughout the program. The implications of these insights for the respondent's overall teaching practice are thoroughly detailed.
Response shows evidence of a synthesis of ideas presented and insights gained throughout the program. The implications of these insights for the respondent's overall teaching practice are presented.
Response shows little evidence of a synthesis of ideas presented or insights gained throughout the entire course. Few implications of these insights for the respondent's overall teaching practice are presented.
Response shows no evidence of a synthesis of ideas presented and insights gained throughout the entire course. No implications for the respondent's overall teaching practice are presented.
Writing is clear, concise, and well- organized with excellent sentence/paragraph construction. Thoughts are expressed in a coherent and logical manner. There are very few or no spelling, grammar, or syntax errors.
Writing is mostly clear, concise, and well-organized with good sentence/paragraph construction.
Thoughts are expressed in a coherent and logical manner. There are few spelling, grammar, or syntax errors.
Writing is unclear and/or disorganized. Some thoughts are incoherent or not expressed in a logical manner. There are spelling, grammar, or syntax errors on many pages.
Writing is unclear and disorganized. Many thoughts are incoherent or not expressed in a logical manner.
There are numerous spelling, grammar, or syntax errors throughout the response.
Students who choose the thesis track should register for a total of 6 thesis credit hours over at least 2 semesters (= 2 thesis courses). If you don’t complete your thesis while you’re enrolled in these 6 thesis credit hours, you have to continue to register for at least 1 thesis credit hour for the remaining semesters in which you work on the thesis. View the NEIU Master’s thesis documentation.
Milestones Toward Completion of a MA TESOL Thesis
- Explore your topic by reading articles or book chapters about your topic.
- Once you have ideas about your thesis project, make an appointment with a TESOL faculty member with whom you would like to work. If the faculty member agrees to advise you, he or she will help you narrow down your thesis topic.
- Set specific plans for your research based on clear research questions. Write a thesis prospectus that describes your research plans, in consultation with your thesis advisor.
- The prospectus should include (a) the background and purpose of the study, (b) the research question(s), (c) the study method, (d) potential implications of your study findings, (e) timeline, and (f) references.
- Your prospectus should be approved by your thesis advisor in order for you to officially start your thesis project.
- Once your advisor approves of your thesis prospectus, fill out the graduate thesis registration form, collect signatures, and submit the form to the graduate advisor. The graduate advisor will forward the form to the appropriate administrators.
- In consultation with your thesis advisor and graduate advisor, register for thesis credit for the semester you work on your thesis.
- Form a thesis committee in consultation with your thesis advisor. The thesis committee should be made up of at least three faculty members, including your advisor, who has to be from the TESOL program. Your advisor will help you form this committee.
- If your research involves human subjects (i.e., participants), you will have to complete CITI training to get IRB approval. Go to this website to get training.
- After completing the CITI training, file for IRB approval. The thesis committee members also go through IRB training.
- Once you get IRB approval, you may start data collection and conduct your research.
- Complete the remaining research and writing of your thesis in consultation with your thesis advisor and thesis committee members.
- Plan ahead and make sure to follow the set timeline for the project. The structure of the thesis submission, as a whole or in parts will depend on your committee. Plan at least 30 days for them to read, evaluate it, and provide feedback.
- You may be asked to make further revisions based on the feedback you receive from each of the committee members.
- The committee evaluates the thesis’ organization, content, form, and style. Once the advisor determines that the thesis is acceptable for defense, an oral examination in defense of the thesis is required. The audience includes the thesis committee members. Other individuals may be invited to attend the oral defense.
- Once the thesis has been successfully defended and the final draft of the thesis has been approved by the thesis committee, you are required to submit the thesis to the College of Graduate Studies and Research (firstname.lastname@example.org). Follow the submission guidelines in the NEIU Master’s thesis manual.