Year #3: Week #2: The Lows and Highs

I skipped doing the end of Week 1 because, well, it's been an intense two weeks!  So week one was definitely challenging as we delved into working towards our QPP.  The first challenge I found was that while I had one topic, it wasn't gelling with me and another topic that I had been working on in parallel with this one was calling me stronger.  So mid-week last week, I completed reversed direction.  As a result, I essentially doubled the work. 

For those that know me, my research has been focused largely on thinking about open educational resources and their place within the classroom and how they impact teaching and learning.  In particular, this past year, I became interested in how deficit framing of OER may have negative impacts on how faculty utilize them or view their students.  This strain of thought came from seeing how OER is often framed in a deficit approach, wherein OER is needed because students can't...afford textbooks, access publisher content, refuse to buy learning materials, etc.  I was curious to see how much the training and support of OER carried this framework rather than a more asset-based approach that would emphasize just how OER opens up learning in new and distinct ways.  

But I was having trouble conceptualizing the problem in a way that made it clear how I could study or articulate it as an actual problem.  At the same time, I was being drawn to a problem that I have been thinking about also this past semester as I wrote a paper on it for my other course.  This topic focused on the question of publishing choices by scholars in the realm of civic engagement and whether their work, published behind paywalls, is actually contributing to the public good if the public must pay for the work.  

Morning Coffee
Representation of being on near empty but also
reminder of how much coffee I've been drinking.
As I moved from Tuesday to Wednesday, I realized I had a different topic and had to change gears.  I took a run in the evening to help sort it out and then met with the course instructor to hash out a clearer logic argument.  When I presented it on Thursday with the class, it made a lot more sense.  It still needed work (something you will always hear in your dissertation process), but it was in the right direction.  I felt relief when others could understand what I was doing and that it made clearer sense than what I was doing.  I also feel this was a topic that drew me in more deeply.  

To describe these first two weeks, I think is to talk about ego depletion.  There's a lot of highs and lows that come in this June session.  You pour your intellectual heart into something, trying to make sense of the ins and outs of something you're passionate about and then you hit the feedback round and you're deflated.  You know this is necessary, you know this is part of the process, and you know that the feedback from cohort members and the instructors comes from a place of wanting to help and make you better, but in the end, it does wear on the ego.  It's a simple fact of the process.  So if you are on this journey and at this stage, just know, that yes, it will drain you and you will have lows and that's ok, it's a sign of your investment and commitment to doing the hard work.  Right?  Because you should care about the work you're submitting and it will be a challenge to get critical feedback.

BUT, where the highs come in is tracking your own progress. When I look back at where I was just last week and where I am this week, I see clear progress and keener insight into what I am studying.  I see tangible evidence of the work that I've been doing and the ways in which my cohort and professor have helped me make a more critical contribution towards the field.  And that makes it worth it.  

Finally, it's also to be past the half-way mark of the last June.  I'm starting to think about what this means in terms of reclaimed vacation time, opened up schedule and just a bit more freedom to do things.  

Want to keep up with my PhD adventures?  Check out any of the links below:

  1. Acceptance...and 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. My Educational Autobiography
  14. So Starts the Third Semester
  15. My Educational Philosophy...for now
  16. PhD'ese
  17. And Sometimes, You Feel It
  18. Semester's Endgame
  19. Year 1, Officially Done
  20. Year 2, Week 1, Day 1
  21. Year 2, Week 1 Done! 
  22. 1/3 Complete!?!?
  23. Click...
  24. Day 1; Semester 5
  25. Share and Share Alike
  26. Mindful and Mind-Filled
  27. 5th Semester Down
  28. Day 1, Semester 9
  29. The Two Demons of My Doctorate
  30. When Senioritis Kicks In
  31. The Final Friday
Sub-series specifically about the dissertation:
  1. Dissertation Journal #1
  2. Dissertation Journal #2
  3. Dissertation Journal #3
  4. Dissertation Journal #4
  5. Dissertation Journal #5
  6. Dissertation Journal #6
  7. Dissertation Journal: QP Revised Edition

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