Friday, September 12, 2008

Update on diss-related activities

I've had a day devoted to working on diss-related things, so I thought I would share a brief update on where I am and where I am going with my work.

1-First, I renamed my dissertation blog from "The Speculum" to "From the Mirror." The work "speculum" may mean mirror in Latin, but it has other more common meanings in English that I think I probably want to avoid. I asked my wife what she thought of the Speculum as a name for my blog, and she went "Ewww." Name changed.

2--My latest version of the pre-disseration proposal is out to both Fred and Becky for their take on whether it is approved for me to move forward or not. Rich has given his approval at this point. It still has weaknesses, but I believe all the revisions have strengthened it considerably.

3--While I await feedback on the pre-diss proposal, I am charging ahead on working on my Reading List. The first step of this process has involved cleaning up my office where all my papers from course work are located. I have been going through stacks of folders and notebooks and getting things in some kind of order. I just reached the "ordered" stage today, and I began going through notebooks to pull out articles and other sources to enter into my list.

4--If one avenue of pulling in sources to include in my reading list comes from reviewing the work of my courses and what I read, the second avenue is to do some more searching and researching. I have collected a number of folders with results from previous searches for sources, and I plan to go through these citations again to see what I need to look at and possibly include. I also did a search in CompPile for the term "reflection." It came up with 51 screens of hits, and I have clicked through 30 as of right now pulling out ones that look likely. I plan to do more researching also to find more research to include for my 4Cs paper. I will have to follow up on finding these hits and seeing if I want to include them in my list.

My goal is to have a full first version of this reading list completed by Sept. 30.

5--The last thing I have begun is trying to get a better grasp on the methods involved with Grounded Theory in preparation for doing a Pilot Study research study some time later this Fall (I hope). I have found Corbin and Strauss' Basics of Qualitative Research: Techniques and Procedures for Developing Grounded Theory to be invaluable, but I am also referring to the other sources I have on Grounded Theory. What I want to do is chart out what is involved in the actual coding, so I am creating condensed versions of how to do Open Coding, Axial Coding, and Selective Coding. I have gone through Open Coding and I have yet to start working on Axial and Selective.

6--Where I haven't gone yet in relation to the pilot study and research methods is in the direction of "datagogic" research. Rich just last week shared some sources that Susan may be using in a data-mining class she may be teaching, so I will try to take a look at a couple of these.

7--Lastly, Alec, Janie, and I think Time have formed what we call The Rich Rice Club. We each have Rich as our chair and we each are in the early stages of working on our dissertation, so we are trying to be a support network to each other. We meet each Friday at 9 AM in Rich's room inside TTU MOO. This weekly peer meeting and discussion is really great.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Entering the Next Stage

OK. I "think" that my pre-proposal is good to go. I still need to hear from Fred and Becky, but Rich has given his nod. The proposal still has a number of weaknesses, particularly around the research questions. I received feedback too that I need to put the problem in a larger context. We have a number of problems with reflection in the area of assessment; my focus is different. Somehow I need to get that context across.

Here is the best feedback I could have gotten which was a classic Elbowian SAYBACK from Alec:
"Okay, here's what your proposal told me: Reflection is important but it isn't being utilized the way it should be, nor do we really know if its working to its potential. Thus, my diss. will use a new method (grounded theory) to come up with a new theory related to reflection to help us (teachers) use it in our classes to our advantage." --bingo

Thank you Alec!

I may need to do some revision to the proposal from here, but I think it is mostly in good to go shape. Now where to go?

My direct focus now needs to be on my reading list. I have to have to have to get a draft of that produced and out by Sept. 30. This should be interesting. I have a good portion of it done, but not everything. I have a lot of materials from past course work to infuse into my list. I suppose I can try to put everything in and then trim out as needed. I also need to do more research on the research on reflection (for the reading list and my 4Cs presentation). That should be my focus right now.

I wonder if shooting to take the Quals in Jan is too fast? I can tell I would probably benefit from more time reading and "fleshing out" what I know from the literature. It will be a gallup in the Fall, particularly if I try to do a pilot study this fall. I guess I will take one step at a time--reading list for now and then we shall see.