M.A. in TESL Final Project

Students completing the M.A. in TESL Program at Kent State University must complete one of the following:

  1. Portfolio
  2. Comprehensive exams
  3. Thesis

Portfolio Guidelines

The intent of the portfolio is to provide the TESL M.A. candidate the opportunity to present his/her professional development, to integrate TESL theory and practice, and to point to future career directions. It is typically completed during the candidate's last semester of study. The portfolio is designed to selectively demonstrate superior examples of the candidate’s work in a number of areas. The documents in candidates’ portfolios are typical of the kinds of documents often required for submission on the job market. They also reflect candidates’ academic development in the course of the M.A. program. The structure of the portfolio is outlined below. For candidates who entered the program on or before Fall 2016, you may follow these guidelines or the prior guidelines that were in place when you matriculated into the program. 

To establish his/her committee, the candidate should take the following steps to select two faculty members who will act as his/her portfolio committee.

  • Request the participation of committee members near the beginning of the semester in which the candidate intends to submit the portfolio.
  • Coordinate with both committee members to determine a date for the portfolio defense.

Once a date is set, committee members will assign Lesson Plan B (see below) for inclusion in the portfolio.

The candidate should ask each committee member the preferred format for the portfolio (e.g., electronic document via email, hardcopy, etc.).

The candidate should submit the completed portfolio to the committee one week prior to defending it. During the defense, the candidate should give a brief (10 minute) presentation highlighting the strengths of the portfolio. The committee will then examine the student on the elements of the portfolio and suggest revisions. Portfolio defenses may not be scheduled during finals week.

Portfolio Structure

Portfolios must contain the following documents in this order. Any changes from the format below must be pre-approved by the candidate’s committee.

Professional Documents

  • CV (curriculum vitae)
  • Statement of Teaching Philosophy (typically 1-2 pages)
  • Unofficial Transcripts

Teaching Documents

Candidates must include two lesson plans in their portfolio:

  • Lesson Plan A
    • This lesson plan will be of the candidate’s choosing and should reflect his/her best work
  • Lesson Plan B
    • This lesson plan will be based on a “teaching context” provided by the candidate’s portfolio committee when the committee is established.

Each lesson plan must include:

  • Information about the target learner population;
  • Language learning objectives;
  • Step-by-step procedure (both what students and teacher are doing);
  • A sampling of materials, both original and from commercial sources along with an explanation of the materials;
  • An essay outlining a rationale for the lesson plan, including linguistic objectives and a theoretically-informed description of teaching procedures and materials.

Academic Documents

Candidates must include one academic document in their portfolio with a clear indication of the course associated with the document.  The academic document should be matched to the candidate’s committee members’ areas of teaching and/or research. If the academic document was originally submitted as a part of the candidate’s course work, then the document should be accompanied by a brief (approximately one page or 300 words) explanation of how it has been revised since their original submission for course.

Examples include: research proposals and projects from a course, empirical studies, systematic literature reviews, proposal for a research study, conference poster/PowerPoint/handout, and/or script of the conference talk.

Comprehensive Exams

The comprehensive exam, taken in the penultimate or final semester, is an opportunity for the M.A. in TESL candidate to synthesize and demonstrate his/her knowledge and understanding of the field of Teaching ESL/EFL. The Exam is a series of three written exams on materials covering TESL course that the student took during his/her program of study. One of the areas of examination must be ESL/EFL pedagogy-related.

The semester prior to the exam, the student should contact three faculty members whose classes he/she would like to be examined in from within the Department of English (Miller, and/or Rilling). Examiners will provide the candidate with possible exam questions.

The M.A. in TESL Chair will schedule the exams over a three day period and inform the student of the place and procedures for completing the exam. Exams may only be taken fall or spring semesters, and they may not be scheduled during finals week.  Each of the three parts of the exam will take four hours to complete.

Faculty members supplying questions fro the exam will evaluate the student's response. If the student passes all three parts of the exam, he/she will have completed the TESL Final Project. If the student fails one or more the sections of the exam, he/she must take the exam again during the next semester.

Thesis in Applied Linguistics

The thesis enables students to carry out in-depth primary and secondary research on a problem current in the field identified by the student in collaboration with an Department of English faculty member (Miller, and/or Rilling), who serves as Thesis Advisor. The thesis is typically completed in the student's final two semesters.  The thesis option is only encouraged for academic scholars and must meet faculty and dean approvals; Education option M.A. in TESL students may not complete the thesis option and must take the exam or portfolio option instead. In order to complete a thesis, students must submit an approval from through the College of Arts and Sciences in the semester prior to the semester in which they plan to graduate.

In order to defend the thesis the candidate must obtain approval from the Thesis Advisor prior to scheduling the defense. A completed printed copy of the thesis must be circulated to the committee members two weeks prior to the defense. During the defense, the candidate should briefly outline the research and findings in a ten-minute summary presentation. The committed will then examine the student on the elements of the theses and suggest revisions.

The student is responsible for checking deadlines with the College of Arts and Sciences for filing completed defense forms and the thesis itself. Failure to do so will result in a failure to graduate in the semester the student intends. In any event, thesis defenses may not be scheduled during finals week or during summer.