Bachelor Thesis Log 9

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This is an English translation of a blog post that was originally published in German.

September 7th, 2010

Most of the decisions I have made so far in the planning and execution of my bachelor's thesis have not come easily to me. I am someone who has certain difficulties deciding between several viable alternatives. Sometimes I tend to stand like the donkey between the two haystacks, because all available options somehow have advantages and disadvantages and I can't bring myself to choose just one of them. It's always a pleasant and enjoyable change of pace when I think: this choice is really clearly and indisputably better than that one; when a decision is really easy.

Yesterday that happened to me again.

Outline (The Third)

Until yesterday, I had only ever worked on the outline with the idea of what it should look like overall and how something like that is usually laid out. I have oriented myself to existing works and tips from various websites. This was overall not very satisfying and seemed (paraphrasing my supervisor) a bit fuzzy and jumbled.

While writing the planned chapters and with feedback on my outline in mind, I had a spontaneous idea. What if I completely broke away from conventions and overall ideas and built an outline solely on the basis of which chapters I wanted to build back relationships between. Most obvious example: to criticize and argue against the teachlet definition, I want to refer to teachlet practice and presenter reports. Therefore, it is probably useful to classify them before the definition.

With this approach, my chapters then fit together very quickly like a puzzle. Here is the current state of the outline:

  1. Introduction
    • Goals of this thesis
  2. The teachlet concept
    • Definitions
    • Delimitation from similar methods
  3. Prior teachlet practice
    • Reports from moderators
  4. Definition
    • The original definition and its limitations
    • Updated definition
  5. Limits and possibilities
  6. Conclusion

As you can see, I have also renamed a few chapters. What was called “Planning Game” yesterday is now called Limits and Possibilities after consultation with Axel. This expresses the subject of the chapter quite well. Probably the chapter will be further subdivided when the time comes.

Overall, I feel very comfortable with this structure. It feels coherent and even conforms to the “first analytical, then constructive” template, which in my case cuts the fourth chapter in half. This is still analytical at the beginning, but then leads into the constructive part.

Axel confirms my euphoria and describes this structure as much more successful than the previous one, which of course encourages me further. From this point on, I actually expect only minor changes.

What do we learn from this? Don't blindly do what others do – do what makes sense for you.

Reporting from the Interview Afternoon

Today I had the interview appointments with Axel and Carola.

The interview with Axel went very well. We did it in his office and I recorded it with my laptop. I have an OGG/Vorbis file here that contains about 35 minutes of interview and which now wants to be transcribed. As it happens, I actually know a bit about transcribing thanks to my linguistics elective. However, I will probably not create a HIAT transcription like in my linguistics course, but “only” an approximate transcription without “um”s and other filler words as well as with a pinch of artistic license in punctuation. I'll give it a try and see how well it works. Does anyone know of any usable speech-to-text software?

As for content, Axel mentioned many good and helpful aspects. Much of it I already knew, of course, but it's certainly not to be underestimated to now have it in a form where I can refer to it and quote from it. This will hopefully allow me to write the paper less subjectively and not have to refer so much to my own unsubstantiated memories and experiences.

I'll send the transcript of the interview back to Axel after it's done, so he can look over it again to see if anything needs to be shortened before publication. After that I'll put it online here. I have to ask him as well whether I can put it under a CC license.

Unfortunately, the interview with Carola was cancelled. On her way to the Informatikum she was stuck in a traffic jam for quite a long time, so there wasn't enough time until her next appointment. We made a new appointment next Monday at 9 AM, almost right before the interview with Christian. This shortens my remaining time for the evaluation by almost a week, but I'll probably have enough to do until then.


Apart from transcribing the interview with Axel, my next construction sites are chapters 1.1, 2.1, 2.2 and 5. The first two of these should not take very long, it's just a bit of writing.

The delimitation of similar methods requires above all still literature research, in order to find these similar methods first, whereby I had unfortunately so far little success. The books on didactics of computer science and especially software engineering that I have come across so far either deal with being a computer science teacher and planning a month-long curriculum or with concepts of university teaching that have nothing to do with teachlets. At the moment I'm browsing and hoping for a lucky strike, but I'm not sure if I'm looking in the right places. I'll have to see if anything else turns up or who I can ask for help.

The Limits and possibilities chapter is the big one on future visions and thought experiments. So far, I only have a rough idea of examining the definition piece by piece for its flexibility, i.e. to what extent one can perhaps still “play” with the elementary components and what novel teachlets could look like. This is a chapter that has nothing really standing in its way now, but I must say that I am a bit anxious about it. Nonetheless, I'll have to get to it sooner rather than later. I'll give it a try after the easy parts and see what works by next week.

So next Tuesday at the latest there will be the report of the two remaining interviews. In the meantime, I'll keep you updated on what I'm writing, how far I've come and if there are any new developments. See you next Tuesday at the latest!


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