PhD

Thriving… Not Just Surviving in Your Ph.D.

Today is the start of the UNT Learning Technologies (#untLT) Doctoral Fall Writing Boot Camp (October 17-18, 2014). This program has been developed by our department to support our doctoral researchers in their dissertation progress. Currently a number of doctoral researchers are writing and working in the LT Agora with snacks, support, and relevant available resources.

DocStudents

I am looking forward to joining the “Doctoral Campaign Strategy Meeting” tonight on a panel this evening with our faculty, including Drs. Cox, Ennis-Cole, Knezek, Tyler-Wood, and J. Wircenski. (Drs. Allen and Warren will participate remotely if they are able). This Q & A session will provide some advice and give some ideas for not only how to “survive” but also thrive in doctoral research regardless of the phase.

This presentation is a remix of @drjeffallen ‘s wisdom/advice

I like to use the phrase thrive not survive, to for the doctoral process. There are a number  a number of supportive strategies and ideas to get to the PhD finish line, including:

  • Making a habit of WRITING & scheduling only #ShutUpAndWrite session
  • Social, emotional & mental support
  • Identifying champions in your department, on campus & in your discipline
  • Outlining the major professor-advisee working relationship – needs & expectations
  • Using the advice of your committee wisely
  • Organizing your research materials & literature review effectively
  • Mapping out your data collection process
  • Attending to your personal-wellness & well-being
  • Connecting to a cohort of scholars in your personal learning network
  • Giving up something, to get something to finish your dissertation
  • Understanding how you work best
  • Consulting & using the resources available
  • Focusing your efforts wisely

Want to learn more? I will be sure to post notes and advice from our panel of professors and doctoral researchers who attend. What is YOUR advice on how to THRIVE in a doctoral program and through the dissertation process? Please share!

UPDATE (post-panel):

Doctoral Strategy Panel - Group Photo

From left to right: Drs. Cox, Ennis-Cole, Knezek, Pasquini, Tyler-Wood, and Wircenski.

#phdchat, Reflections

So You’re Thinking About a PhD…

In talking to my exploring major students on campus and other professionals in the field — I often share about my Ph.D. experience and talk about what it means to be a doctoral researcher.  Often I am asked about my Ph.D. program, my line of research, and how “I like it.” I often say I’m too close to it to really give advice, but I’m happy to talk about my experience and answer questions as I can or refer to others.

phd
Last fall at the #nacada13 conference in Salt Lake City, UT, I was part of a doctoral researcher panel on this topic: 
How To Hack Your Ph.D.: Being a Doctoral Student & Academic Advisor and a few #HackPhD Notes on Storify

It was a full house. Not surprised. There has been a growing interest among colleagues interested in pursuing a Ph.D. I am often asked about my Ph.D. research, progress, and if others should get into the same program or even start a Ph.D. To be honest, I am not sure I have the answers to these questions. I am too near the subject right now…

I’ve read a great number of books on the topic of graduate work, Ph.D. survival, writing, publishing, research, and more – but really, it was for my own inquiry and nerdy interest.  Like any good academic/career counselor, I usually ask those interested in a Ph.D. about their own motivations and rationale for the interest in doctoral research.

So you’re thinking about a Ph.D.? I have 10 questions AND prompts for you! I am not sure it will help — but I thought I might as well put these “you wanna pursue a Ph.D.” questions out there others who are considering the Ph.D. track. Take these questions with you as you ponder your Ph.D. goals, research potential graduate programs, apply to potential programs, and, even, start your first semester of your doctorate program:

  • What career goals do you have? List both your short-term and long-term goals in a statement. Write them out, read, and reflect.
  • How does your current work experience (resume/CV) relate to your career goals and interest in a Ph.D. program? Reflect on your relevant experience.
  • How your master’s degree or other educational credentials relate to and support your career goals? Describe your academic experience and background.
  • If you were going to seek out letters of recommendation for your Ph.D. program, who would write your letters of recommendation? Why? What might they say about you? List at least three individuals who would be your academic reference, and consider what they might say about your application to a scholarly program.
  • Do you have any scholarly or peer-reviewed writing samples? If so, please consider how they might be submitted and reviewed by a potential Ph.D. program. If not, what articles or journals interest you in your area. Research!
  • What is your research interest? Often you will have to complete a “Statement of Research Interest” so explain the areas or topics you want to study. If applicable, also consider for research:
      • Any specific theories or models of interest?
      • What seminal work in the field have you read?
      • What will you use to guide your research focus? Authors? Disciplines?
      • What is your preferred research methodology?
      • What is your research methods “worldview”?
  • What will you contribute to the doctoral research and your Ph.D. program? Explain the unique knowledge and skills you will bring into a doctoral program as a potential student
  • What will you contribute to the doctoral research and your Ph.D. program? Explain the unique knowledge and skills you will bring into a doctoral program as a potential student.
  • Where do you want to study? This question is for both geographic location and specific discipline home (e.g. education, sociology, economics, etc.).
  • How will your basic needs be met? Financial, emotional, and social support. It is important to think about your budget, personal relationships, professional objectives, and more when plotting for doctoral work. This will be a few years of your life — so be sure this how you want to spend it. Have this discussion with family, partners, and friends in advance. Be informed about scholarships and funding costs.
  • When is the right time? I doubt this ever has a great answer – but you need to determine this for you after answering the above questions. Decide if the Ph.D. route is right for you, and then if the timing is right or can be right. You can always make it work if you want it. [p.s. Did I say you should WANT to do a Ph.D.? That’s the only way to finish.]
Bonus Question: Who will mentor you through your Ph.D. progress? Faculty advisors at your campus will be great, but who else will you consider as part of your doctoral experience. Peers? Colleagues? Researchers in the field? Scholars, you admire/read?Doctoral candidates and early career researchers? Build your Ph.D. learning network NOW.
#AcWri, #AcWriMo, #phdchat, PhD

#AcWriMo Peer Pressure: Time, Challenge/Support & Cheerleaders

As many of you know, I signed up and successfully completed my first UNT Eagle Dissertation/Thesis Boot Camp over that past few days. What did I accomplish? (you might ask). Here is my summary, in a tweet:

The boot camp structure helped me find time, space (physically & mentally), and support to dedicate 3 FULL DAYS of just writing and research for my dissertation. Dr. Oppong and the Toulouse Graduate School provided the group of doctoral students with advice on the PhD process, motivation, meals, and, of course, COFFEE! Boot camp let me be selfish with my time and required me to just SHUT UP AND WRITE my dissertation.

Shut Up & Write #AcWriMo Start of Dissertation Boot Camp

During the camp, I purposefully unplugged from all social streams, e-mail, phone, etc. Unless you were my faculty advisor,  my friend Paeng from our COI research lab, or my partner-in-crime – you probably did not hear from me much.

Similar to #AcWriMo November 2013, this boot camp included goal setting and accountability with our writing progress. Here’s my self-evaluation from camp:
Boot camp sel-evaluation. #acwrimo #phdchat #latergram

My main purpose for this boot camp was to finish my dissertation proposal for my committee to review. Essentially the dissertation proposal consists of Chapter 1 (Summary), 2 (Literature Review) & 3 (Methodology) for my final dissertation. Want to learn more about this writing process? Check out SAGE’s new resource: Do You Understand What is Required in a Doctoral Dissertation or Thesis? [PDF]

I managed to get most of these beginning chapters drafted, and have them loosely reviewed by my faculty advisor. I also put my writing drafts into the official UNT Dissertation format, and identified areas I need to edit and add to. I plan on using December to meet with a few faculty members to review my research methodology (the recipe for research), and then I will work with my faculty advisor to set up a time for my dissertation committee gather for review in early 2014.

Overall, this boot camp was a great experience, and I am quite pleased with my progress. I think that agraphia groups and writing support programs are invaluable for doctoral students. Events like this offer peer pressure, social support, and, most importantly, TIME for writing. I would like to attend the next UNT boot camp in February to write up Chapter 4 (Data Collection, Analysis, & Findings) and Chapter 5 (Conclusions) in the Spring.

Thanks for the challenge & support from the following tweeps: #AcWriMo writersinstigator of research ideas, and especially those of you who cheered me on. Always be writing…

EdTech

Ed Tech Career (#EdTechCareers) Forum: Questions, Discussions & Advice at #et4online

In preparing for the upcoming Emerging Technology for Online Learning (#et4online) conference this Spring, the planning committee discussed how to augment the Career Forum to better support graduate students and junior faculty who are job searching. The Career Forum will post jobs,  offer on-site interviews, and also host a series of  career development roundtable discussions with experienced scholars, researchers, and instructors in the educational technology field.
et_attending_400x100
Last week, Dr. Kevin Grazino and I began brainstorming potential roundtable discussions to host at the upcoming #et4online conference. These panels will provide a space for emerging scholars to meet and gain career insights from experienced professionals/faculty.
CAREER FORUM ROUNDTABLES (#EdTechCareers)
Career Forum Roundtable – EdTech Career Tracks

Tuesday, April 9 – 2:30pm-3:20pm

There are a number of career directions and opportunities to apply for with your graduate degree. Join this roundtable to ask career questions and gain advice on which path is right for you:

  • Higher Education Faculty/Instructor – teaching vs. research institutions
  • Industry Research & Development
  • Consulting/Other
Career Forum Roundtable – Career Skills
Wednesday, April 10 – 10:10am-11:00am
In developing career skills for the educational technology field, it is critical to get involved and connected to both professional affiliations and peers. Come learn about how to build your CV and also showcase your experiences, as we talk about:
  • Professional Networking
  • Getting Involved in Professional Organizations
  • Scholarship Development – teaching, publishing, service
  • Interview Advice
Career Forum Roundtable – Career Applications

 Thursday, April 11 –  10:10am-11:00am 

Applying to your first faculty position? Looking for industry positions? Perhaps you should consider how you present yourself via your job application. Join us as we talk about things to consider when developing your career materials, including:

  • CV & Resume Writing
  • ePortfolio Development
  • References

If you are attending the Emerging Technology for Online Learning (#et4online) conference, and you are able to share your career experience with graduate students and junior scholars, PLEASE consider donating 50 minutes of your time for one of the following roundtables. 

For graduate students attending #et4online, please consider attending at least one of these Career Forum Roundtables to ask questions and seek out career advice. Do you have questions or things you want to learn from this? Let me know.

SIGN UP HERE!

 

#phdchat, PhD

I’m Qualified… to Work on My Dissertation Proposal

Today I received the “official” paperwork letting me know that I am qualified to move onto the dissertation/thesis phase of my PhD. At the end of the Fall 2012 semester I defended my ATPI Portfolio, as part of my comprehensive or qualifying exams, and became a PhD Candidate. Here’s the signed document to prove it:

Qualified

This semester (much to my faculty advisor‘s surprise) I am not enrolled in any courses at UNT. The goal for this term is to concentrate on completing my dissertation proposal for a successful defense by the end of April 2013, if not before to be eligible for scholarship and/or other opportunities. Other than a few publications/projects, conference travel, and editing for the Learning and Performance Quarterly, you will probably see my nose deep in research methodology as I fine tune my literature review. Stay tuned…