Thesis Description


The Department Thesis to be submitted to the Department of English in partial satisfaction of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in English, TESOL Option adopts the “portfolio” concept. The portfolio is a collection of work organized by the student in accordance with the guidelines laid out in this document. The work selected should represent a meaningful testament, an authentic and personal compilation of the author’s academic labors and professional preparation. It is intended that this academic portfolio should be ultimately transformable into a professional portfolio that catalogs qualifications, skills, knowledge, and views relevant to a career in language education.


  • 1.0 Cover Page
  • 2.0 Table of Contents
  • 3.0 Curriculum Vitae
  • 4.0 Academic Products
  • 5.0 Capstone Project


See attached sample

The Table of Contents lists in order all items contained in the portfolio. Although it is not necessary to number the pages, it should be easy for the reader to locate the items.

Look for a sample in reference books.

4.1 Introduction

The introduction to section one of your portfolio—academic products—is a five- to seven-page narrative essay describing your development as an ESL teacher. This essay is intended to be an opportunity for you to reflect on what you have learned in your TESOL program, and to explain how the materials included in your portfolio reflect your efforts to understand the field. While your introduction may serve as the foundation for future letters of application, for the purposes of the portfolio, your essay may include a discussion of your uncertainty and the ways you have worked—and may still be working—to resolve those questions. An effective teacher is often one who continues to reflect on his or her practice, and who acknowledges that teaching is, in fact, a life-long learning process. To that end, your portfolio introduction should include the following:

  • A description of your motivation for studying TESOL and your knowledge or assumptions about the field when you started the program,
  • An explanation of how you arrived at your current teaching philosophy (be sure to explain what your current philosophy is), including a discussion of how your philosophy has evolved due to the concepts and theories you have< studied in the program,
  • Reference to specific course projects and papers that have contributed to your understanding of the field and your teaching philosophy,
  • An explanation of the kinds of teaching activities and lesson plans you have developed as a result of your knowledge,
  • A reflection on selected teaching journal entries that demonstrate your growth as a teacher,
  • Concluding remarks about how you plan to continue developing as a teacher in the future.

4.2 Course Materials

You must include copies of essays or projects you have completed in all courses required for the program. These essays or projects should be the final versions submitted to your instructors of those courses, and need not be revised for the portfolio. However, if your thoughts or understanding about a particular course have changed since you completed the work, you may discuss those changes in your introduction to the portfolio, explaining how the instructor’s comments have helped you rethink the material. If you were officially waived on any of these requirements, you are also waived from submitting materials from those courses. However, you may submit materials from another institution if you have them and if you believe they are pertinent to your introduction.

4.3 Lesson Plans and Teaching Journal

Your portfolio must include at least two lesson plans with accompanying material from English 6501 or 6502, or you may submit lesson plans you have developed during your supervised teaching. The teaching journal must include several entries that reflect your development as a teacher and must be drawn from assignments in English 6508, Supervised Teaching & Learning. Though the entries may be edited to correct errors, keep in mind that it is important to preserve the original work.

For your capstone project, you must select an advisor from one of the full-time faculty in the TESOL program. Your advisor will assist you in preparing your proposal and will sign-off on your completed project.

5.1 Proposal

After reviewing the recommendations for the capstone projects, each student must submit a formal proposal, approximately 2-3 pages, describing the project. The purpose of the proposal is for the student to clarify his or her plans, and for the advisor to make recommendations about the focus, direction, and potential resources for the project. Students are advised to get approval on their proposal two quarters (usually in the Fall Quarter) prior to beginning the project. Once approved, the proposal also serves as a means of keeping the TESOL program coordinator informed about the individual projects students have undertaken.

In your proposal, give a description of your project and provide a brief explanation of how your project relates to ongoing concerns in the field. It is inadvisable to begin a project for which you have no background knowledge; therefore, recounting particular concepts that have been presented in your classes, discuss how your coursework has prepared you to begin your investigation. You should make specific references to readings and materials that have contributed to your background knowledge. Before you commit to your project, you want to be sure additional resources are available to support your investigation. Although you do not have to thoroughly read or review those materials yet, describe the resources you expect to utilize in completing your project. Finally, your project should be relevant to your future goals as an ESL teacher. Explain how you or other teachers might benefit from the information you acquire by completing the capstone project.

5.2 Project Description

The capstone project is a required component of the portfolio. Each capstone project must include a review of research related to the focus of the project. Depending on the type of project you undertake, your completed project will include approximately 20-30 pages of original material based on one of the following options.

  • A course proposal or extended sequence of assignments related to a specific learning objective. For this option, you should include a five- to eight-page review of literature on the topic, approximately five pages explaining your approach including an articulation of the goals and methods that will be used, and at least ten lesson plans that demonstrate how you will accomplish the goals you have outlined.
  • A professional development experience. After identifying a particular aspect of your teaching to investigate, utilize a teaching journal, observations, and/or other classroom assessment techniques to monitor your development in that area. Based on a review of relevant literature and data you have compiled, explain how and why your teaching style has evolved.
  • An annotated bibliography and overview of a specific topic in TESOL. Your project will include annotations of approximately twenty publications related to your chosen topic, and a three- to five-page essay that explains dominant threads in the professional conversation. Your essay should also identify and summarize any publications that are frequently referred to in the discussion of your topic or that you consider central to understanding key issues and concepts.

Please Note: If you have an idea for a project that does not appear to fit one of the recommendations, please discuss alternatives with your advisor.


Submit the Capstone Project Proposal to your Thesis Advisor who will be assigned to you during winter quarter. You must obtain an approval form before beginning the project. Keep in mind that you may be asked to make one or two revisions before the proposal is approved.

In order for you to receive credit for ENGL 6909, the entire portfolio must be submitted to your Thesis Advisor by the last day of classes, spring quarter.