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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.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Helping Out a Fellow Grad Student

I got this from vegreville. Enjoy...

I’m in an experiment
By V on web logs

Linking to this for a conference panel.

Results to be announced during the “Meet the Bloggers” panel at MLA 2006.
Why? A grad student is doing an experiment on the speed of memes.
The specific rules:
1. Write a post linking to this one in which you explain the experiment. (All blogs count, be they TypePad, Blogger, MySpace, Facebook, &c.)
2. Ask your readers to do the same. Beg them. Relate sob stories about poor graduate students in desperate circumstances. Imply I’m one of them. (Do whatever you have to. If that fails, try whatever it takes.)
3. Ping technorati

via: Profgrrrrl

Tags: graduate student, graduate students, graduate school, ,

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Gaming Post for November

Okay, I just realized that with all of the serious content that I have been posting this month, I haven't posted an entry with any gaming links recently. So, here's your list for this month...
And my personal favourite - Business Simulation Company (from Teaching and Developing Online).
I represent the business simulation company, ExperiencePoint, and we've created a series of mini decision-making simulations which puts the user in the role of the general manager of a hockey team.
Enjoy...

Tags: , , , , ,

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Bit Of Fun Just Before American Thanksgiving

I found this from Dr. Four Eyes in his entry You like me! You really like me!. Apparently it came from this entry, which you can use to find out how you rank, courtesy of Musey Me.


C-List Blogger

Sunday, November 19, 2006

At What Point Should You Stop?

Okay, I can honestly say that I have taken an active role in our student associations within my program and department. My CV is littered with organizational responsibilities and committee assignments, not because I wanted to have a strong service aspect to my CV, but because I honestly believe that to be a good citizen within an organization you should give as much back as you take from that orgaization. In my three years here at UGA I feel that I have gotten a tremendous amount from those around me and have tried to give back just as much.

In this year, my final year of my Ph.D. program, I've taken a step back from these responsibilities. I was fortunate enough to be awarded the dissertation completion assistantship, so my only formal duties this year is to complete my dissertation. I'm also fortunate enough to have already collected the vast majority of my data, including:
  • 35 interviews from twelve different students
  • 5 interviews with five different teachers and administrators
  • 36 hours of videotaped obserations of students engaged in their virtual school courses
  • 4 different surveys completed by all twelve students
  • 96 weekly journal entries from nine different students
  • 27 observations of synchronous classes from thirteen different courses
  • 1 observations of a synchronous tutorial session
  • 15 reviews of different asynchronous course systems

Having collected all of that, I now must turn my attention to finally finishing my transcribing of interviews and field notes, along with reviewing the videotaped observations. Then I have to write the damn thing - although I have the majority of chapters one (statement of the problem), two (literature review), three (methodology), and four (context) already completed. So really I have to write the analysis of my data, along with my conclusions and implications. And I have the next eight months to do it. [Note that by the time December roles around, I imagine many of my posts will be about my dissertation process.]

But that brings us back to my service component. Two years ago (or at the end of my first year), the College of Education re-organized and my department merged with another department within the COE. Both departments, while having many scholarly points for collaboration, had very different institutional cultures - one had a strong sense of community while in the other individual programs operated in a much more autonomous manner. The merger of these two cultures has interesting to say the least, and as one of the student leaders within the department it was my job to try and bring the good from both departments to the benefit of the students, while hoping that the negative aspects would not spread. You'd have to ask others how successful I've been in that respect.

I can say that my own experience has changed a great deal. When I first came to this university, even before I applied to be a student here, I sensed and was witness to a strong community between students and leaders in my field (i.e., our faculty here). While the leaders in my field are still here and still work in amazing ways with their students, that sense of community has slowly disappeared. Maybe it is a function of people simply being more busy or maybe it is a function of the size of the new department (which is actually the size of many of the colleges of education that you would find at other institutions).

As I reflect upon this, watch the new changes that another academic year brings, and see a new group of students take upon leadership roles within the various student organizations, I wonder at what point do I simply stop fighting for a community within our program? At what point do I just collaborate with those (both students and faculty) who I have built wonderful relationships with, and work with my committee to get the big "D" done and get out the door? Or do I continue to fight to try and hold on to what was once there, hoping that it will make the experiences of those coming behind me as rich and rewarding as mine has been? Don't get me wrong, I don't believe that the quality of our program has changed or that the quality of people in our program (both students and faculty) have changed. Just that little thing that changes the "I have to go to the office today" to "I want to go to the office today".

I don't ask these questions rhetorically, but of those who have gone through institutional change to chime in with their own opinions. Particularly if you have advice for a student leader in this regard, both for my own actions for the remainder of my time here and because I hope to have students of my own one day soon and I'd like to be able to give them guidance on a wide range of topics, one of which might be this one.

Tags: graduate student, graduate students, graduate school, higher education, education

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Grades and Student Feedback

One of the things that I have a great deal of interest in, both from a personal standpoint (on a couple of levels) and from a professional standpoint. I like student feedback, in fact when I teach I always try to get feedback at multiple times throughout the semester (usually through a mid-term evaluation, as that way I can try and make some adjustments to benefit the current group of students). And I also value the end of semester feedback from students. I think both of these things make me a better teacher and allow me to design and deliver stronger courses.

Having said that, I also recognize that in many instances the feedback that I get from the students in these evaluations are largely tied to the grades that the students are receiving - at least in many instances. Like New Kid on the Hallway (see Does this mean I'm shallow?), I knew when my name showed up on Rate My Professors and I was a little hurt when it was a very negative (and I thought somewhat uninformed and unfair comment - I don't give students classes off and even though I have rubrics for everything I somehow grade funny, but anyway). I can understand that this was probably a student who had an axe to grind, most likely about a grade, which may be particularly true given that about a year later three very positive and more realistic, but yet still a little constructive comments appeared.

But the tie to grades and the affect that it has on the type of feedback that students provide on evaluations cannot be ignored. And I wonder if it isn't tied to the issue that Johannes discusses on his blog, Learning Rocks, with the post Self-made grade inflation?. If you haven't read some of his suggestions, it is worth a look as he has some good ideas.

So, in an academic environment where what the student shades in for those last two questions (i.e., how do you rate the course, and how do you rate the instructor) do have impact on your promotion and tenure process, and it is fairly well known that a student who has been getting poor grades all semester is more likely to shade in the 0, 1 or 2 - what do you do? In reading what professors have to say over at Rate Your Students, I can't say that I'm hopeful that I'll be the exception with classes of bright-eyed and bushy-tailed stuents who are ready to learn and prepared for my course - so what do you do and how does that decision affect your academic career? I don't know yet because I'm not quite there, so you tell me!

Tags: academy, tenure, graduate student, graduate students, graduate school, higher education, education

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Have You Googled Yourself

This is something that I blogged about back in the Summer of 2005, this whole idea about the type of online presence you maintain. I mention it again because of a recent entry entitled “I’m going to Google you” and I can't recall who had posted it - and I've searched my Bloglines and Google Blog Search.

The idea behind this post was how Google and other search engines have the ability to present a profile of you, both a realistic one, maybe a false one if there are others with the same name as you (e.g., their is a botany professor named Michael Barbour and another one as well, whom I believe is in Calfornia - although that may be the botany guy too, but there are two others in the academy), and maybe one that you're not so proud of if you were a little more vocal and unrefined in your youthful days.

What I find most interesting about this is that there are still people out there that would never think about seeing what comes up for them on the Internet. What kind of profile does Google protray for you? Why not go and check and let us know.

Tags: academy, tenure, graduate student, graduate students, graduate school, higher education, education

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Has This Been Your Experience?

I saw this entry, grad school "friends" over at In Favor of Thinking - and apparently they had seen something similar written over at What Now.

The premise, which is best simply quoted, was about an "old grad school friend who repeatedly diminished her accomplishments or boasted about his own." This apparently spoke to In Favor of Thinking.

I found this interesting because my own experience here in my doctoral program could not be further from this description. I can't think of any of my doctoral colleagues that try to deter from my accomplishment and I would hope they would say the same of me. I also think that not only would they not try to deminish the accomplishments, but my program has a culture of supporting each other as we vie for these accomplishments and celebrating once the accomplishment becomes a reality.

So tell me, what has your experience been?

Tags: academy, tenure, graduate student, graduate students, graduate school, higher education, education

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Who Should Cite What?

Over the past week or so, I've read a couple of things about the manner in which we should, at least in terms of how citations should be used. First it was On citations over at A Gentleman's C and then it was Cites at vegreville.

The basic premise of the first of these was a discussion of what exatly you should cite when you are writing. For example, I read a Master's thesis on the plane ride over here to Dallas on Friday. It was about social presence and a virtual school, but in the literature review of this document there was no mention of Short, WIlliams and Christie - none whatsoever, not even listed in the references. The odd thing about this is that over thirty years ago, these three guys came up with the concept of social presence. Now in reading through this thesis, it was well written and the more current literature that this student chose to use was both valid and fairly comprehensive for Master's-level work. But it raises the same question that is asked at A Gentleman's C - "who cites whom and how much"?

The main theme of the second entry was that while citations do matter, at least in terms of promotion and tenure as they indicate a level of impact that you are having on your field, that since one of the more cited piece of work by vegreville is actually a description of an earlier, more foundational piece that he wrote (and the fact that many of the times he has seen it written the authors have used it incorrectly) he is less concerned with the whole issue of being cited.

So, it goes back to the basic question... Who should cite what?

As professionals, most of us in the academy, do we owe it to each other as a professional courtesy to cite our colleagues whenever possible and appropriate because we want others to cite our work because there is a direct benefit for us when it comes to promotion and tenure? Should we be responsible for making sure that we cite all of the foundational works that our ideas are built upon? Or, alternatively, should we focus upon the newer literature as a way to show that we are current in our field? Should we do both? At what point are we citing too much? Is there such a thing as citing too much?

These are all good questions and I imagine the answers will vary depending on where people are in their careers (i.e., tenured vs. untenured) and their particular position (i.e., within the academy or outside of the academy). So, let's hear from you.

Tags: academy, tenure, graduate student, graduate students, graduate school, higher education, education