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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. a portfolio or
  2. comprehensive exams or
  3. a six credit thesis


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 student's last semester of study. The portfolio is designed to selectively demonstrate superior examples of student work in a number of areas. Portfolios can be used in finding professional employment, or they may document an academic record of student development in the field.

Two or more products are required for each item on the list below. A table of contents and an overview essay, which serves as verbal map to the portfolio, are required. The portfolio should be organized and accessible in a self evident fashion, so if any instructions are needed — on using multimedia, for example — they should be clearly presented to be the reader, perhaps included in the sleeve of CD.

Portfolios must be defended before two Department of English (Hamrick, Miller, Precht-Byrd, and/or Rilling) TESL faculty members.  The candidate should submit the completed portfolio to the committee one week prior to defending it in either paper or CD from (to be specified by faculty). During the defense, the candidate should briefly highlight 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:

*indicates mandatory elements

Overview Products

*e.g. your roadmap as described above

Administrative Products

Product suggestions:


Teaching and Integration Products

Product suggestions:

Lesson Plans/Materials/Tests prepared for a specified audience
Self reflective products, such as action research, teaching journal
Course/Materials design, including needs analysis, etc.
*Philosophy of teaching statement

Academic Products

Product suggestions:

Papers/Projects revised with course professor's consultation
Proposal for conference presentation/poster session
Paper/poster/handout presented at a conference/symposium
Paper/book review/notes published

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 predagogy 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 (Hamrick, Miller, Precht-Byrd, 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 (Hamrick, Miller, Precht,-Byrd 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.

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