Showing posts with label dissertation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dissertation. Show all posts

The PhD Chronicles: Dissertation Journal #4

So while I had hoped to work that this journal regularly, that clearly hasn't been the case.  Oh well, there are so many hours in a day/week, right and when you're juggling full-time work, part-time work, a PhD program self-care, and social time, somehow, such things just don't happen as they should.  But that doesn't mean I'm not still trying to think about it and jot down ideas here and there.  

This June, we start the process of developing what is likely to become our dissertation and have had our first few meetings with the professor that will be ushering us into the process during the semester.  Based on those meetings, I feel like I'm in a good place.  He gave us a set of questions to write about and reflect based upon what we think we currently want to do and so that will be the crux of this journal entry.  

However, in taking after a good friend and mentor of mine, I'm going to start to make this an open process where people are invited to comment and give feedback as I develop my ideas.  While people can comment in the blog section here, I like the idea that people can tag their comments to specific questions, making the text more interactive and helping both the commenter and myself clarify what area we are discussing.  
Word cloud in the shape of a word balloon.

So here is link to a Google Doc wherein if you want, you can read and even comment.  I promise, when relevant to respond.  

In case you are wondering what I'll be answering but don't wanna click through, here are the questions:
  1. What is my dissertation project about?
  2. Why am I conducting this dissertation topic?
  3. Why should anyone care about my subject? What is my big point?
  4. What is the big picture, the context or the conditions that make it important for me to pursue this topic?
  5. When I am finished with the project, what is the one point that I want to leave with my readers? Which three subpoints do I want to convey to my audience?
  6. Which theories or methodologies will I use to research my topic? Why is that the appropriate theory or method?
  7. What data, sources, texts, or objects are most appropriate for me to work with? Do I have access to them? Do I need to collect them?
  8. What will be the contribution or implications of my dissertation?
  9. How does this topic align with my professional mission and career goals?




Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email. 

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

The PhD Chronicles: Dissertation Journal #3

So it's been longer than I wanted in terms of blogging about my dissertation thoughts but that's not because of an absence of thoughts but an absence of time to put them down on paper (or blog, I guess).  

In January, I was struck by a more specific idea about a potential dissertation topic after attending and presenting at a NERCOMP Event on OER.  It's been on my mind a lot and though there's a lot more I need to do with it, I figured I would take the time here to flesh it out so that I can discuss it further with some of my advisors and cohort members--as well as you, dear readers.
Word cloud in the form of a lightbulb.
Original image from here.


Development of Open Initiatives and Their Impact on Pedagogical Approaches

At this workshop, we were discussing how the open education resources (OER) movement has been expanding and shifting language from OER to openness initiatives.  This is in part because there is a good discussion about it being more than just about resources but really thinking about what knowledge and learning can mean in an open environment.  So with this comes the idea of "open pedagogy" and thinking about how teaching and learning can change when thinking differently about the tools of learning and the premise of openness (equitable and ease of access to, use of, and sharing of knowledge).  

Therefore, the area that I am circling is to look at the influence of how open initiatives at colleges shape and influence how the instructor approaches their class in terms of asset and deficit based approaches to teaching and learning with OER. (And yes, I'm about to break down that I'm talking about here!).

More specifically, I want to look at the relationship between asset-based and deficit-based views of faculty and the framing of open initiatives at Massachusetts community colleges to better understand what features may more increasingly influence and empower faculty to either move beyond deficit-based views of their students or understand if the framing of open initiatives inhibit asset-based views of their students.

So let's work our way through the questions:


What does this contribute to?

This project would contribute to several different areas. It would contribute to the open education movement, faculty development, and teaching and learning.  In terms of open education, it might help identify the challenges and considerations in developing open initiatives and how to frame such initiatives.  Currently, I see a lot of concerns about students "lacking" (that is, a deficit view) that drive the open movement.  This concerns me because it frames the student immediately as insufficient.  Exploring if this framing impacts the classroom could help to change the narrative and the practical uses of open content and practices in the classroom.  In terms of faculty development, this project might highlight the importance in the frame of students to faculty (and vice versa) that perpetuate deficit-views and therefore, negate the abilities and intelligences that students can bring to a learning environment.   


What's the problem to study?

The problem I want to look at is if the framing of open initiatives perpetuate some of the same problems that other types of learning materials and methods perpetuate which is the banking-method of education where students are empty containers to be filled (the working of Paulo Freire to be specific).  In such instances, open initiatives that frame the student as unable or helpless to access course materials because of costs, potentially perpetuate students as incapable not only of absorbing the text, but getting a hold of it.  I fear that this may unintentionally nudge faculty to become further incensed with students because now they "have no excuse" but still are consuming the course materials.  


What's the thing that needs solving?

The problem to solve is whether this actually is happening or to what degree that it is and how different framings of openness initiatives may impact the asset/deficit frames of the instructor towards the students.  Does it improve asset-based views or perpetuate deficit-based views (or to what degrees and ways does it do both)?


What does this subject/topic mean to me?

I am a strong advocate of the democratization of knowledge and learning and the empowerment of the students.  We're great at cheering on the students that meet our expectations of "good students" but fail to recognize or work with students who don't meet our views of what good students should be.  I believe that engaging with open initiatives has the potential to empower students and unlock different ways to learning and communicating about their learning, but that means rethinking methods and approaches to teaching and learning long held and perpetuated in our education systems.  I want to make sure that in moving forward with and supporting open initiatives, I am aiding in empowering student learning.  


Other Aspects

This semester, I am doing a pilot of this project with one community college for my Qualitative Analysis course.  If it goes well, I feel like this will be a good pilot to then move into a larger study for my dissertation.  Right now, I'm learning towards qualitative as I feel like that will give me the opportunity to dig deep into conversations and resources to consider how these different practices are framed and impact people.  

So that's what I got thus far...what do you think?

Want to catch up on my previous reflections about being in a PhD program?  Check them out:
  1. Acceptance
  2. Orientation
  3. Day 1
  4. Week 1
  5. First 2 Courses Completed
  6. First 2 Courses Finished
  7. Semester 2, Here We Go
  8. The Existential Crisis of the Week
  9. The Balancing Act
  10. Negotiating Privilege in Higher Education
  11. Zeroing in on Research
  12. Completing the Second Semester
  13. The PhD Chronicles Dissertation Journal #1
  14. The PhD Chronicles: Dissertation Journal #2
  15. So Starts The Third Semester
  16. My Educational Philosophy...for now



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email. 

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

The PhD Chronicles: Dissertation Journal #2

So in the last blog post, I merely stated my ideas but in this post, I want to drill down a bit further with them and see where that lands me.  My advisor has given me a handful of questions that I think will be useful for me to articulate what it is I'm trying to get at.  As I start to pinpoint different ideas to consider, I feel like this will help me refine my ideas and translate them into something more coherent.

Accessing the Digital University

What does this subject/topic mean to me?

I think about the span of my higher education experience (19 out of the last 20 years, I have been in higher education as a student, faculty, or staff--sometimes all 3 at once) and I think about the increasing digitalization of higher education.  I came into higher education just as computers were becoming ubiquitous, colleges were using websites, and libraries were using databases but they were still overwhelmingly analog spaces.  Over the years, I watched as classrooms gained whiteboards and projectors, as email became a space of dialogue between instructors and students, where learning management systems became a home, not just to online courses (initially, largely textual) but also to face-to-face courses.  I've seen the student management systems become robust (though still flakey) enough to be able to do many different things that it significantly reduces the trips and time one had to waste in lines in years past.  None of this even touches upon how social media, tablets, and smartphones have changed colleges and universities.  

All of this is to say that there has been many changes to how students, faculty, and staff engage with an institution and many of those entail a digital interface of one means or another.  A college is not longer just a physical space (if it ever was) but a digital one and that is fascinating to me on all three levels (student, instructor, staff) and how that changes (or doesn't) experiences and meanings of college.  


What's the problem to study?

While digital has many different opportunities to positively change and influence the access to, experience in, and success at college for all players, the move to digital is not without its challenges and problems on many different fronts.  The digitalization of processes, information, and communication means that accessing services and resources requires digital access.  Those with the best access are likely to make out better than those with limited access.  More importantly, it also requires different skillsets--technical skills on top of the other skills needed to manuever through a complex environment.  


A drawing of a computer with the screen reading, "Access Denied; #SorryNotSorry"

Higher education already demands various cultural and social capital (to speak nothing of financial capital) to access and succeed.  To this, we are adding techno-capital (or rather, adding the requirement for more techno-captial as it can be argued there has been a techno-capital requirement prior to the last twenty years).  Techno-capital is the ability to both access and manipulate technology.  This becomes a problem because just like social and cultural capital are not spread out equal, techno-capital isn't either.  Those with social and cultural cpaital are already likely to have or to easily acquire digital capital. 

It also seems clear that at the K-12 level, techno-capital isn't distributed equally with some schools having a plethora of technology including a one-to-one programs while others have little-to-none technology in the students' daily lives.  A digital presence is likely to help build a student's techno-capital, making them more capable in knowing how to use technology and possibly even more knowledgeable about how to access it (e.g. they may encounter more tech-hacks when technology is present such as being aware of a rental program for tablets if they forget their tablet at home could translate into knowing such services exist on an as-need basis).  Thus, often, students lacking equitable social and cultural capital (of the the kind that is valued in higher education), are potentially furthered disadvantaged as colleges become increasingly digital and it decreases a student's chance at success.


What's the thing that needs solving?

Ultimately, as colleges continue to digitalize their processes, they increase the need for techno-capital by all members.  While those already part of a college environment (e.g. faculty), may be able to push back (e.g. refuse to use the learning management system beyond the bare minimum) or at least get training on the job for catching up with the new digital processes, the students desiring to become part of or just recently joined with the instution are left to fend for themselves.  So how do we undo the harm and limitations put upon students lacking techno-capital through the digitalization of higher education.  


What am I addressing?

Great question.  When I look at what I've written thus far, it would seem that I'm thinking mainly about access to higher education and techno-capital's role within it as the institution becomes increasingly digital, does it replicate so many of the issues of access that we have seen in the past in higher education.  That is, are we just reshuffling the board rather than improving access to higher education?
  

What does this contribute to?

Embedded in so many college missions is that idea of access or a similar social justice mission that looks to create a more equitable space.  Higher education masturbatorily speaks of itself as a meritocracy but stacks the deck regularly and the digitalization of higher education, whether knowingly or not, contributes to a further disenfranchisement of access and support for students whose circumstances, rather their abilities preclude them from being made members of a college community.     
    
I've found this quite useful so you can expect more them laid out like this.  So in the next post, I'll tackle the idea of techno-capital and its role within learning in the same fashion.  


Want to catch up on my previous reflections about being in a PhD program?  Check them out:
  1. Acceptance
  2. Orientation
  3. Day 1
  4. Week 1
  5. First 2 Courses Completed
  6. First 2 Courses Finished
  7. Semester 2, Here We Go
  8. The Existential Crisis of the Week
  9. The Balancing Act
  10. Negotiating Privilege in Higher Education
  11. Zeroing in on Research
  12. Completing the Second Semester
  13. The PhD Chronicles #26: Dissertation Journal #1



Creative Commons License
By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The PhD Chronicles: Dissertation Journal #1

Word cloud of this post in the form of Rodin's Thinker.
Welcome to my new series within the PhD Chronicle series.  Herein, I will writing reflections and thoughts about where I am currently with thinking about my dissertation. I'm 30 courses in and if I haven't already, I should really start thinking about what I'm doing for my dissertation.  To be honest, I have been thinking about it, but this semester, my goal is to actively journal about it in the insuring months to see if I can find a strong focus and direction that I want to commit to.  In the next year, we will be writing our qualifying paper proposal (QPP) and qualifying paper (QP), which we will need to submit to move forward int he program.  Ideally, your QPP, QP, and dissertation proposal (DP) all align and I hope by working through these entries I can maintain that direct line of thinking.  

So let's start with some of my initial thoughts and consideration about what I want to focus on with my dissertation are.  


What is the current direction for my research interests/potential dissertation? I find myself coming back to a two areas of interest for my research.  These topics all relate in some way or another so if you see some thread that connects them all--by all means, share away!



Digital Access


As a college becomes more digital than brick, how does the institute respond to the question of access for students?  A century of writing and lore has focused entirely on how students prepare for physical institutions but how do they prepare and universities prepare them for digital institutions?  Institutions have digitized a variety of systems and processes from requests for information to applications to submission of and receiving of financial aid to student information systems to course materials and assignment submissions to digital portfolios and much more.  How does the move to digital create challenges or problems for student populations that may already encounter limitations or challenges in accessing higher education.  While students may increasingly have access to the digital world, how does techno-capital (not just access but ability) contribute to students' success in college?

Key terms:  techno-capital, academic capitalism, access, digital university, 



Digital Public Good


How do universities use the level of scale afforded by the digital world in order to more systematically engage in, quantify, and illustrate their essential role as contributors to the common good?  Higher education often fails to quantify their individual and collective contributions to society and particularly for public higher education, this reinforces the idea that higher education is a personal good, not a public good.  To that end, I am interested in looking at ways in which higher educations are using the digital environment to better capture and quantify the impact of their work.  Several topics come to mind with this particular topic including the exploration of open educational resources, open data and research, and also digital service learning.  With each, it becomes easy to see track and extrapolate the impact that higher education has on society at large and thus to be able to argue the value and importance of supporting higher education.   

Key terms:  public good, open educational resources, OER, open research, open data, digital commons, digital service learning, academic capitalism, techno-capital 


So that's where I'm at right now.  In the next post, I'm going to try an exercise to break them down further and see if that leads me in any interesting directions.

With these entries, I strongly encourage and hope that readers will chime in with thoughts, ideas, sources, or interesting questions to consider.  I am grateful for any and all help you're willing to give!
  1. Acceptance
  2. Orientation
  3. Day 1
  4. Week 1
  5. First 2 Courses Completed
  6. First 2 Courses Finished
  7. Semester 2, Here We Go
  8. The Existential Crisis of the Week
  9. The Balancing Act
  10. Negotiating Privilege in Higher Education
  11. Zeroing in on Research
  12. Completing the Second Semester



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email. 

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.