Examples of Assessment by Institution

Princeton University: For 85 years, the senior thesis has been the capstone of a Princeton education. All Princeton seniors undertake a substantial independent research project, supervised by a faculty member. While the typical thesis is a written report based on scholarly investigation or scientific experimentation, some students produce creative theses, such as novels, plays, or dance performances.


The thesis presumes that, through the foundational work of general education and the focused study of departmental concentration, undergraduates develop the capacity to engage in independent study in their chosen fields. Students meet regularly with their faculty advisers throughout the senior year as they plan and execute their thesis projects.  The resulting thesis typically undergoes several drafts, each with the benefit of faculty feedback.  The final product is then assessed independently by multiple readers, who provide extensive comments.


What is most important, thesis-writers and faculty members agree, is less the specific learning of the subject matter covered in the thesis than the contribution of the thesis to the central goals of a Princeton education, the development of traits that augur well for future success, no matter what one’s professional and civic commitments.  These include: mental discipline; independence of mind and judgment; the capacity to focus and pursue a subject in depth; the ability to design and execute a large, complex project; the skills of analysis, synthesis, and clear, economical writing; and the self-confidence that grows from mastering a difficult challenge. The senior thesis demonstrates whether these goals have in fact been met.      


Princeton University