Master of Education in Distance Education (MDDE) 700

Introduction to Thesis Research

Course cover

Delivery Mode: Group Study

Credits: 3

Prerequisite: Completion of required core and elective courses for thesis-stream students

Availability: All terms

Early access to the Moodle Learning Management System begins a few days before the official start date of your course. At that time you will have limited course access.


MDDE 700: Introduction to Thesis Research is the first of a series of courses designed to guide the student who is pursuing educational research through the process of analyzing initial and essential components of thesis-level research that will serve as a foundation for MDDE 703: Thesis Proposal Development. You will examine topics of scholarly interest inspired by your program courses to identify a topic for thesis research that motivates your curiosity, analyze literature and construct a draft of a literature review, become well versed in the structure of a thesis proposal, and choose an appropriate research methodology to frame the thesis study.

In addition, through reflective journaling, you will have the opportunity to critically explore your personal epistemological, ontological, and axiological positioning during the research development process, an essential step for the growth of academic scholarship.

All activities culminate in a final research prospectus that defines the direction you have chosen for your thesis research, including an appropriate research method. This research method will inform which research methods course to enroll in for the next of the thesis development courses.

Course Goals

The primary goal of MDDE 700: Introduction to Thesis Research is to guide the thesis student to:

  1. Explore research interests;
  2. Choose a research topic;
  3. Conduct a literature review;
  4. Formulate research questions;
  5. Choose a research methodology that is appropriate for the research inquiry;
  6. Produce a prospectus for a thesis research proposal that will lead to a culmination of the student’s MEd degree program.

Course Outline

The course units for MDDE 700 include the following:

Unit 1: Examine Personal Research Interests

Unit 2: Analyze Direction of the Field

Unit 3: Develop Prospectus

Unit 4: Complete Preliminary Research Design

Learning Resources


Registration in this course includes an electronic textbook. For more information on electronic textbooks, please refer to our eText Initiative site.

Creswell, J. W., & Creswell, J. (2018). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (5th ed.). Sage Publications.

Other Materials

Online study guide, readings, recordings and videos

Student Assessment

Assignments, Activities, and Conference Participation

There are four assignments to be submitted to the MDDE 700 Dropbox, multiple non-graded activities, and forum discussions that focus on specific topics and essays related to a prospectus for a thesis research proposal. They comprise a substantive part of the course activities and are described in detail in the Study Guide Assignment pages.

Every activity is designed to allow you to build components necessary to create a prospectus to conclude the course. Posts to forums are intended to build community, enhance learning, and inspire students to share insights, resources, and feedback. Every activity and assignment are designed to strengthen your scholarship and skill with research.

The grading scheme for MDDE 700 is “pass/fail” for each of the assignments and the final course grade. To earn a “pass” for the final grade, the student must earn a “pass” for each of the assignments. The rationale is that you are pursuing a thesis for reasons important to you. Therefore, you are self-directed and self-motivated to succeed. If you do not produce a prospectus strong enough to make an informed, definitive decision about which methods course to register for next, you will have to repeat this course, thus prolonging the time required to complete your research and reach your goals.

Assignment 1: Compile problem statements

Background: This essay is a follow-up review of the Unit 1 activity that involved choosing three topics that captured your attention for future research, collecting scholarly resources, and examining the problem statements located within each.

Essay: Summarize the problems identified in the articles and synthesize them into a comprehensive narrative that captures the profile of the scholarly problems that would benefit from further research. Post to the forum for peer feedback

Assignment 2: Choose your research or project topic

Background: To prepare for this assignment, for the unit 2 activity, you created a concept map based on the problem statements and other important factors derived specifically from the scholarly sources you chose in Unit 1.

Essay: Based on the concept map as well as your insights into what drives you to explore and investigate an elusive question, you will write a short essay describing the specific topic you are choosing to develop into your research study. Post to forum for peer feedback.

Assignment 3: Research Questions and Methods Review

Background: The objective of this assignment is to create potential research questions that align with the intended topic. To accomplish this, you crafted several potential research questions that reflect the intent of your desired topic, and you reviewed your method essay from the activity.

Essay: Produce an essay that focuses on research questions that you consider to be reasonable choices for your project. For each potential question, select and critically analyze the method that could generate the data and results that meet the intent of the question. The research method you consider to be your best choice for pursuing your research will help you decide which advanced methods course you will enroll in following successful completion of this course.

Assignment 4: Prospectus

Background: During this course, you have explored your research interests, chosen a research topic, and decided on an effective research method. Activities throughout this course have produced essays that fit within the framework of your final thesis research prospectus.

Prospectus: To create your prospectus for your proposed research, compile the essays from unit activities and assignments. Post to the forum for peer feedback.

Course Participation: You are expected to participate in the discussion forums of the course, engage in scholarly dialogue, and provide feedback to your colleagues.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.