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Students Find Creative Solutions in Defending Theses via Zoom


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By Liam Connor, UTO Student Worker

The move to digital classrooms has inspired ASU students to find new solutions within a remote modality. For Barrett Honors students, the ASU experience culminates in the defense of their honors thesis. Normally, this event is attended in-person by close friends and family, so students were initially hesitant when it was announced defenses would be held online for the duration of the semester.

However, students and staff have come together to ensure a smooth transition to online defenses. Kathleen Casey, a senior Barrett student studying kinesiology, said her defense went well in a remote modality, with family and friends still able to attend virtually via Zoom.

“My committee recognized the challenges of meeting in-person, so we arranged for a number of Zoom calls to smooth out final details,” Casey explained. She worked with her committee chair weeks before the presentation, and tested the technological components one last time an hour before her defense. “All of the prep work paid off, because I completed my defense without any issues.”

Casey offered some handy tips to future virtual defenders:

  • Start early

  • Break it up

  • Keep deadlines

  • Meet regularly with advisors.

These tips, she said, made it “super easy to stay motivated throughout the process”.

Casey even found new opportunities in working remotely. Advanced preparation was key to feeling confident in her presentation. “I am generally an anxious presenter, so presenting online helped me feel more at ease than I might have with an in-person presentation,” she said.

As ASU continues to monitor COVID-19, the university has transitioned from in-person teaching and learning to remote options. In this challenging time, however, the collective innovation of ASU faculty and staff has demonstrated remarkable adaptability. As a method of celebrating the good during uncertain developments, the University Technology Office is gathering success stories of “remote resilience” from the ASU community. The situation globally and across the country is changing daily, but we also plan to share these stories to keep pace.

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