WSU graduate receives international award for master's thesis

(Sourced by: Crystalee Beck) Crystalee Beck and her new baby girl on graduation day.
(Source: Crystalee Beck) Crystalee Beck and her new baby girl on graduation day. Beck recently won multiple awards at an international conference for her thesis.

In April, Crystalee Beck graduated from Weber State University with her master’s degree in professional communication. Her master’s thesis won multiple awards at an international conference in Hong Kong this past June.

“I proactively found the conference and just thought I would shoot for the moon and see what happened,” Beck said. “And sometimes, when you shoot for the moon, you make it.”

Near the end of her master’s program at WSU, Beck had the choice to either take more classes or conduct research and formulate a thesis. Her thesis project was on gratitude.

Beck got the idea for her thesis when she received a thank you note from her boss. The impact that note had on her inspired her to research how gratitude in the work place can influence both employees and employers.

Beck conducted research through a number of focus groups and surveys. She distributed her survey to over 900 people through social media and received just under 900 responses.

Her survey included questions about the ways people preferred to be thanked. Beck researched six different categories, including being thanked verbally, with notes or emails or with monetary bonuses.

Beck’s findings revealed that about 28 percent of people in the workplace felt most appreciated when verbally thanked, one-on-one. Twenty-five percent of the employees she surveyed preferred to be thanked with monetary bonuses.

“A big thing that I think everyone can learn from this is that actually verbally saying thank you is really important,” Beck said. “That’s what people want to hear.”

Weber State faculty members Sheree Josephson, Ph.D., and Susan Hafen, Ph.D., were members of Beck’s thesis committee. Working closely with Beck, they helped her refine her idea and come up with questions that would receive the responses that she was looking for.

“(Beck) has thanked us a million times for helping her on her thesis and in her classes,” said Josephson, who was the chair of Beck’s thesis committee. “Her thesis definitely fits her personality.”

Hafen helped Beck consider the opposition in her research. Insincere thanks, or not being thanked when a person feels they deserve it can be some downsides of gratitude.

With these negatives in mind, Beck was able to develop deeper research questions and uncover different aspects of gratitude in the workplace.

“(Beck) is one the of most optimistic, positive, generous people. She was one of those graduate students who stayed after a class to tell me how much she enjoyed my lecture,” Hafen said. “She’s entirely genuine when she does that, so I don’t think she realized that some people are not so genuine in giving thanks.”

When Beck learned about the Corporate Communication International (CCI) Conference, she decided she would just give it a shot. To begin the process, she submitted an abstract of her master’s thesis.

When her abstract was accepted, Beck traveled to Hong Kong, to present her findings to a board of judges. On the third night of the four-day conference, an awards banquet was held.

Beck originally went to the banquet to cheer everyone else on, and was completely shocked when her name was announced. She won awards for both “Best Theoretical Paper” and “Best Presenter.”

“I never could have guessed my little abstract, submitted last fall without expectation of acceptance, would garner such attention,” Beck wrote on her blog. “I don’t expect to have every future endeavor fall into place as this one did. But I will continue to share stories worth telling and pursue my passions.”