Expectations and Evaluation

Expectations of Students

Regardless of the nature of your specific project, the neuroscience faculty have certain expectations of you. These expectations relate both to the thesis process and to tangible outcomes of the process. We have organized our expectations into four categories as shown below.

I. Knowledge

The thesis should reflect a depth of understanding within at least one area of neuroscience while appreciating the bidirectional interrelationship of behavior and the nervous system.

Students should understand that advances in knowledge in neuroscience are grounded in research and that their thesis reflects a novel contribution to an evolving field.

II. Process

Students should be able to formulate a sound, testable, focused, significant hypotheses based on the current state of knowledge.

Students should be able to design clear research projects and choose the appropriate methodologies to test hypotheses.

Students should understand the strengths, weaknesses, and evolution of relevant methodologies.

Students should be able to examine, interpret, and communicate effectively about data and understand how the data fit in the context of the interdisciplinary literature.

Students should be able to identify and execute statistical analyses appropriate to data and visually portray the results effectively.

III. Communication

Student writing should reflect an understanding of the scientific process.

Students shall effectively and clearly communicate their ideas orally and in writing to expert and non-expert audiences.  Effective communication requires tight organization, logical argumentation and flow of ideas, clear presentation of data and precise use of language.

Students should apply academic writing styles and citation systems appropriate to neuroscience.

IV. Comportment

With faculty mentorship, students will engage in a process of discovery leading to intellectual independence.  As part of this process, students should be willing to take risks in thinking and expression of ideas.

Students should demonstrate awareness of how their behavior as researchers impacts others, including subjects and co-workers, and should follow conscientious research practices.

Students should demonstrate dedication to their work and time management skills to produce the best possible thesis.  They should develop the capacity to set and meet appropriate deadlines.

Students should show perseverance and the flexibility to respond to challenges and ambiguity. Students should show the capacity for delayed reinforcement.

Evaluation of Thesis

The student’s ability to meet the expectations noted above is what is evaluated for a letter grade. The grade for thesis, whether it is a one- or two-semester project, is determined solely by the thesis adviser. As a rule of thumb, letter grades for thesis can be interpreted in the following way:

  • A = Exceptional work, reflecting that the student has consistently exceeded all of the above expectations
  • B = Good work, reflecting that the student has met all of the above expectations but that the quality of effort or product has not risen to the level of outstanding or exceptional
  • C = Average work, reflecting that the student has met some but not all of the expectations and that there is need for improvement in one or more areas
  • D = Minimally adequate work, reflecting that the student has not met many of the expectations and demonstrates considerable need for improvement in multiple areas
  • F = Unacceptable work, reflecting that the student has not met any of the expectations and needs remedial work in most areas