Guiding thesis circles in higher education: Towards a typology

Kamakshi Rajagopal*, E.M. Vrieling - Teunter, Ya Ping (Amy) Hsiao, I.C.M. Van Seggelen - Damen, S.M.E. Verjans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Web of Science)


Although the thesis is an integral part of the study programme, the way the guidance for this work is supervised can highly differ between supervisors. Writing the thesis is a complicated process requiring tailored guidance, that is often not feasible due to increasing numbers of students and need for efficiency. One possible solution is working with thesis circles: small collaborative groups in which students, together with one or more supervisors, conduct research on the same subject or theme. Thesis circles offer opportunities for self-regulated learning, (peer) feedback and prevention of feelings of loneliness. In this study we construct
a typology for thesis circles aimed at supervisors following an Educational Design Research (EDR) approach. Based on a literature review and interviews, we formulate the boundaries of a thesis circle and identify 23 design characteristics that determine an instantiation of a thesis circle. This is developed into a typology, that is evaluated in a focus group. Avenues for future research are presented.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-332
Number of pages18
JournalProfessional Development in Education
Issue number2
Early online date6 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Thesis circles
  • dissertation
  • educational design research
  • social learning
  • support
  • thesis circles
  • typology
  • include these here if the journal requires them


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