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


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
Number of pages18
JournalProfessional Development in Education
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Sep 2021


  • thesis circles
  • social learning
  • dissertation
  • educational design research
  • typology
  • support
  • Thesis circles


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