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As a fourth year doctoral candidate, in addition to having completed comprehensive examinations and prospectus and working on the dissertation, my thoughts are also turning towards the job market and securing that first academic position. This purpose of this blog is to chronicle the trials and tribulations of completing my Ph.D. and finding that first job.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Anyone know anything about this?

I saw this in my bloglines a few weeks back and was wondering if anyone knew anything about it (other than what I can Google.

Not-so-advanced placement
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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Methodology Question

Now that I have submitted my comprehensive exams, here is my Methodology question.

You are interested in investigating the efficacy of virtual schools in providing learning opportunities to rural secondary school students, particularly how aspects related to the design and delivery of web-based courses affect student performance in such virtual high schools. You now have to determine the research methodology that would be most appropriate for your dissertation research study. There are five sub-tasks for this question:

1. List your research questions.

2. Identify the overall goal (or goals if you have more than one) of your research in relationship to one or more of the six research goals listed on the following pages.

3. Describe three possible research methods and the associated data collection techniques that could be used in your proposed study.

4. Identify the one method that you think would be most appropriate for your study. Describe your rationale for this choice of method especially with respect to the importance of your study in terms of advancing knowledge in our field and/or the benefits for the public we serve as members of a public university. Also, address the feasibility of your method of choice.

5. Describe your method of choice in detail including the following aspects in your response if they are relevant to the specific method you describe:

  • design
  • sample
  • instrumentation
  • data collection techniques
  • data analysis strategies
  • methodological assumptions
  • limitations
  • logistics
  • timeline

Theoretical Goals - Researchers with theoretical goals are focused on explaining phenomena through the logical analysis and synthesis of theories, principles, and the results of other forms of research such as empirical studies. This type of research is relatively rare because it requires levels of synthesis, generalization, and theory construction beyond the abilities of most researchers. In addition, this type of research follows a long-term agenda that is sustained for many years. A classic example of research with theoretical goals within the field of educational technology is the seminal work of Gagné (1997) to describe the basic conditions of learning and a theory of instruction.

Empirical Goals - Researchers with empirical goals are focused on determining how education works by testing conclusions related to theories of teaching, learning, performance, assessment, social interaction, instructional design, and so forth. Educational technology researchers with this type of goal usually employ experimental (or quasi-experimental) methods to determine the effects of some form or aspect of a technological innovation under controlled conditions. This type of research has dominated educational technology for decades, but reviews reveal that it is often done poorly (Reeves, 1993). Its popularity stems from the fact that until recently, it was the only goal graduate students and young researchers were encouraged to pursue. In addition, empirical studies using quasi-experimental methods take less time and logistical support than other approaches, and many research journals remain more receptive to reports of empirical studies than other forms of research. Although such studies are often flawed, there are examples of competent research such as the investigation of cooperative learning and learning control conducted by Hooper, Temiyakarn, and Williams (1993).

Interpretivist Goals - Researchers with interpretivist goals are focused on portraying how education works by describing and interpreting phenomena related to teaching, learning, performance, assessment, social interaction, innovation, and so forth. Educational technologists with interpretivist goals draw upon naturalistic research traditions borrowed from other sciences such as anthropology and sociology. The popularity of conducting research from an interpretivist perspective has increased dramatically among educational researchers over the past 20 years, although this trend has not been as evident among educational technologists until recently. A pioneering example of interpretivist research within educational technology is Neuman’s (1991) naturalistic observations of learning disabled children using commercial courseware.

Postmodern Goals - Researchers with postmodern goals are focused on examining the assumptions underlying contemporary educational programs and practices with the ultimate goal of revealing hidden agendas and empowering disenfranchised minorities. Although increasingly evident among academic researchers with multicultural, gender, or political interests, research in the postmodern tradition is rare within the field of educational technology. There are several reasons for this, not the least of which is the fact that there are relatively few educational technologists capable of mentoring graduate students or young researchers in this approach. Another is the difficulty postmodern researchers have in finding scholarly outlets for their papers. De Vaney’s (1998) analysis of the field of educational technology in relation to race, gender, and power is an important example of research with this goal.

Development Goals - Researchers with development goals are focused on the dual objectives of the developing creative approaches to solving human teaching, learning, and performance problems while at the same time constructing a body of design principles that can guide future development efforts. Development research which is also referred to as design research or formative experiments has recently received endorsements from several leaders in the field of educational technology (van den Akker, 1999). This research is the kind that Stokes (1997) would put in upper right quadrant of his model along with Pasteur (see Figure 1). A well-known example of development research is work of the Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt (1992) in developing innovative solutions to mathematics and reading problems while at the same time building theoretical models such as “anchored instruction.”

Action Goals - Researchers with action goals are focused on a particular program, product, or method, usually in an applied setting, for the purpose of describing it, improving it, or estimating its effectiveness and worth. Sometimes called action research or evaluation research, research with action goals is similar to development research except that there is little or no effort to construct theory, models, or principles to guide future design initiatives. The major goal is solving a particular problem in a specific place within a relatively short timeframe. Some theorists maintain that this type of inquiry is not research at all, but merely a form of evaluation. However, despite its primary focus on considerations of use for local practitioners, it can be regarded as a legitimate form of research provided reports of it are shared with wider audiences who may themselves choose to draw inferences from these reports in a manner similar to interpretivist papers. One example of this research is an evaluation of a project-based undergraduate engineering course conducted by Reeves and Laffey (1999).


Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt (1992). The Jasper experiment: An exploration of issues in learning and instructional design. Educational Technology Research and Development, 40(1), 65-80.

De Vaney, A. (1998). Can and need educational technology become a postmodern enterprise? Theory into Practice, 37(1), 72-80.

Gagné, R. M. (1997). The conditions of learning and theory of instruction. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Hooper, S., Temiyakarn, C., & Williams, M. D. (1993). The effects of cooperative learning and learning control on high- and average-ability students. Educational Technology Research and Development, 41(2), 5-18.

Neuman, D. (1991). Learning disabled students’ interactions with commercial courseware: A naturalistic study. Educational Technology Research and Development, 39(1), 31-49.

Reeves, T. C. (1993). Pseudoscience in computer-based instruction: The case of learner control research. Journal of Computer-Based Instruction, 20(2), 39-46.

Reeves, T. C., & Laffey, J. M. (1999). Design, assessment, and evaluation of a problem-based learning environment in undergraduate engineering. Higher Education Research and Development Journal, 18(2), 219-232.

Stokes, D. E. (1997). Pasteur’s quadrant: Basic science and technological innovation. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.

van den Akker, J. (1999). Principles and methods of development research. In J. van den Akker, N. Nieveen, R. M. Branch, K. L. Gustafson, & T. Plomp, (Eds.), Design methodology and developmental research in education and training (pp. 1-14). The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

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Saturday, August 13, 2005

Practice question

Okay, I have been totally finished with my Practice question for a few days now, so I guess I should post it...

There is no consensus in the field of social studies regarding what its aims and practices should be in the public schools. However, the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) has approved a position statement entitled, A Vision of Powerful Teaching and Learning in the Social Studies: Building Social Understanding and Civic Efficacy.

In ESOC9000, you began an article by describing the major divisions of thought about the purposes of secondary social studies and relating these traditions to an assessment of the extent to which different traditions of social studies curriculum theory are evident in the practice of social studies in contemporary North American classrooms. This artifact should be appended to your comprehensive exam.

Your task for this exam is to continue that article by relating these traditions to the view of social studies teaching and learning described in the NCSS position statement. You should conclude with a discussion how teachers might enact this vision in a virtual high school context using the literature about effective teaching in an online environment.

Your response should be presented in the form of an article for a refereed publication such as Contemporary Issues in Technology or Social Studies Teacher Education. The portion of the article for this exam should be around 10-12 pages in length (3,000 to 3,500 words) and should be able to be read by practitioners as well as by academics in the fields of instructional technology, social studies education and distance education.
I am still tiding up my Methodology question, but I do hope to finish it sometime today. I'll go in and print out, copy and bindmy responses later this evening or tomorrow and then submit them on Monday, when they are do. I should be posting the Methodology question around then.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Still doing comps, but...

While I am still completing my comprehensive exams, my mind is also starting to turn towards teaching again this year. I'll have a couple of sections of our undergraduate introduction to technology for teachers and will also be co-teaching a couple of courses in social studies education.

Having said all of that (and continuing to think about it), my thoughs also turn to an entry that I read at Distance-Educator.com's Daily News last month that pointed me to an article on The News - Messenger.com entitled "Professor, students clash over grades."

The reason this piece caught my attention is because here at UGA, many students use a service called The Key to shop for their courses (a website that lists the percentage of each letter grade that an instructor gives in each section of a course). Apparently, courses in the College of Education are notorious for giving As and Bs (and primarily As). The course that I teach is no different, with the exception that I tend to be a hard marker (at least my student evaluations indicate such).

While I had no where near the 36% fail the course, as referenced in this article, it is a concern of mine because this issue appears to have brought down my overall evaluations each semester that I hve taught. The course is a project-based course, where students are graded using rubrics (complete with percentages, benchmarks for individual points within different categories, etc.) that are available from the day that the project is assigned.

For those out there who have taught at the post-secondary level longer than I have, how do you balance this in your teaching?

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Monday, August 08, 2005

Comps Foundations question

I said earlier this summer that I would post my comprehensive exams questions, which I really haven't gotten around to. Anyway, given that I have completely finished my Foundations question, I figure that it is safe to post it now (given that my response is supposed to me my own knowledge and ideas and not what others may feed me through adding comments to my blog).

So, here's my foundations question:

Your research interests are focused on enhancing online learning opportunities for rural high school students. My questions are intended to help you examine the foundations of virtual high schools, both within the field of instructional technology and in related fields such as distance education. I want you to explain how virtual high schools have developed over the past decade, what their status is today in education, and where you think they will go in the near future. Here are the specific questions I would like you to answer:

1. In the context of education, describe the development of virtual high schools, exploring international efforts (e.g., Stevens (1999) in Canada), as well as efforts here in the States (e.g., the Virtual High School Project, http://www.govhs.org/website.nsf, Harrington-Lueker (1997)).

2. Briefly describe three examples of well-known virtual high schools (international as well as U.S. based). What are the major lines of research being examined by the developers of these three virtual high schools?

3. Describe the kinds of people who are doing the most interesting work in the area of virtual high schools today. Are they instructional technologists? Distance educators? Teachers? Others? Explain why you think instructional technologists are (or are not) the best people to be doing research and development in this area.

4. Describe three to four theoretical foundations of Instructional Technology (e.g., systems theory, communication theory, learning theory) and how the application of these foundational theories might inform practices in virtual high schools.


Harrington-Lueker, D. (1997). Web high: Move over, distance learning --
here comes the virtual high school. Electronic School. Retrieved on July 4, 2005 from http://www.electronic-school.com/0997f2.html

Stevens, K. (1999). A new model for teaching in rural communities - The electronic organization of classes as Intranets. Prism - Journal of the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association, 6(1), 23-26.
What a geat question, don't you think? Out of the three and a half responses (well two completed - note the other one that is completed is my Theory question, see "Theory of Interaction?" - and one that still needs some editing, and one that I am about half way through), this is the question that has helped my current thinking the most, as it forced me to synthesis (and write out) the many thoughts that I have been having about virtual high schools, the work that is currently being done, and the theories/foundations that are currently affecting the literature in the field.

I'll post the Methdology and Practice questions as soon as I have finished with those as well. Until then...

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Saturday, August 06, 2005

My thoughts on the August Blog-in

While it isn't a direct post about the Blog-in, Nate has a post that talks about a "Culture of Maybe," and I wonder if that is the reason why we have such a hard time getting people talking. I think that "maybe," is one of the reasons that we are having this problem. People simply can't commit to getting involved in the conversation. Although, I have no idea why they can't commit...

Scott, in his contribution to the Blog-in suggests that maybe we are just the "early adopters" of this technology and that eventually people will catch up to us. While I don't disagree that we may very well be early adopters, I don't think that's the reason why. There are seven people who have asked for and have been given access to contribute to AECT's blog for graduate students (i.e., The Program). Yet, with the exception of a few posts from Nate, I am the only active contributor (and I don't mean active like regular, I mean active like none of the others have posted anything).

I also disagree with the fact that we need to be early adopters to have these conversations... Excluding all of those AECT people that have blogs but hardly ever use them and even when they do don't use them to talk to each other. I mean, when you look at Nate's blog roll down the side of his page, most of these are members of AECT, yet how much talking do we do to each other. I suppose even this Blog-in will focus upon the conversation of the half dozen of us that are normally involved in the conversation.

Also, if the statistics that have been tracked over at The Program are accurate (and I realize that there may be some room for error there), why aren't these people participating? I mean according to the stats, that blog gets 4 of unique visitors a day. Even if these people don't have blogs, they can still join the conversation. If you look at the comments to The Program since it was first created, I have made almost 20, Nate has made 4, and the remaining dozen have been made by others. That's not a great deal of participation for three to four month of activity. Why aren't any of these people participating in the discussion? I might say that it was because they didn't like the topics of the posts, but we've had four separate posts over the past three-four months asking people what they wanted us to discuss (and we haven't received a reply).

I don't know the answer, I only know that four or five or a dozen of us can't keep this up forever and that others will have to join the conversation soon or we'll start to simply drop off ourselves.

Tags: blog-in, AECT, graduate student, graduate students, graduate school, higher education, education

Monday, August 01, 2005

Blog Statistics for July 2005

Well, the standard counter sits at 478... I can't say how many visits we had in July because I didn't include that figure in the June statistics for some reason. But we have had 252 hits since the end of May.

This past mnth we have had 53 unique visitors to Breaking into the Academy, 49 of which were first time visitors and 4 whom were returning visitors. This averages out to about 2 a day.

These visitors have come from mainly Canada and the United States, but we have also had visits this past month from the United Kingdom, Singapore, Mexico, New Zealand, Belarus, Portugal, Malaysia, Australia, Hong Kong, and Egypt.

You can add to this list Ireland, Puerto Rico, and Switzerland from previous months... Bringing the total to fifteen countries since we started tracking on 25 May 2005.

Popular entries this page month included:

How'd people find us? Well, it appears that other's blogs are really helping me out this month, as I had visitors arrive here from The Program, Raj's blog, some random blog I assume, and Heather's blog.

In addition, it appears that I got a fair amount of search engine traffic... With Technorati bringing in three times the visitors as Yahoo! and Google, and MSN bringing up the rear. Interesting, here are some of the keywords that they used to arrive here:

  • array
  • gaming and education
  • maclean's computers stupid
  • lowell 2004 transactional distance
  • sue ferguson macleans
  • education and gaming
  • video gaming in education
  • the overlay nathan lowell
  • distance education theory saba
  • massive subject pool

Interesting... Anyway, see you again at the end of August for some more statistics...