The Life of a Wannabe Academic

Detail of the life a new academic. The progress from graduate training to professor. Includes reflections on the job hunting process, research in technology and education, and what it is like to be a new college professor.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Another dissertation another day...

Today I finished (mostly) my latest draft of my dissertation. I had completed a full draft about a month ago, but through meetings and compromises had to revisit the original data set, do some reorganization and run some more analyses. So I had finished that and recently with my days out of town on the interview schedule (yea to me btw, more on that in a later post) I have finally written the most recent results and discussion sections of my dissertation.

I have sent out the draft to my advisor and will wait to hear back from him hopefully in a few days regarding the changes. I must say that though some tough compromises were made, I am more happy with this version. Less cluttered and more streamlined and this made my interpretations of the data a bit easier. Unfortunately all of this has put me a bit behind my own imposed schedule by about two weeks, but I should still be OK for a May graduation date. It all really depends on how many revisions will be required.

So once again, I'm almost done. The real hard work on this should now be behind me. I hoave now to just revise, defend and format the sucker and all should be good. I will be happy to have it behind me for just a bit.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Adventures in Discussion Boards.

In my last post I mentioned that I was going to start my online discussion boards and that I was sort of uneasy and not sure about what to expect. It has been two days now since I introduced the first discussion board, and I have been checking in from time to time. I must say that it is going much better that I would have thought!

The students are active (at least a sub-set of the whole class) and are actively responding to others posts and eliciting responses from others. There are some very insightful comments and some good constructive criticism going on. All in all, if all the the discussion boards go as this one has I will be very happy. I think that I will try to do some sort of assessment of the class to gleam some of their opinions about the use of this discussion board. Perhaps questions about how much they found it valuable, what was good, what was bad, and if they thought that this exercise helped to increase their knowledge of the content.

Right now I am optimistic about this. Much more than I was a week ago.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I must love punishment.

Today I have been finalizing the schedule for a great experiment that I am trying in my Abnormal Psychology class. Now this is not a research study but rather an ambitious activity on both my part and my students and my TA.

I currently teach a 190 student Abnormal Pyschology class that has no small discussion/lab group. So all the time I have is as a large group to discuss abnormal psychology and disorders. I thought that this was not ideal. I would like to have labs so that the students could have more in depth time to dicuss the different disorders that we will cover. So in lieu of these small groups meeing in person, I have decided to try to do this virtually.

We use Blackbaord as a CMS and it has the capability to create groups that have their own discussion baords. I have done this creating 20 groups of 9-10 students each. I thought this brilliant, and since I have a TA, she could do the moderating and grading.

However, it turned out to be much more work so far (and we haven't even started the discussions yet) that I had anticipated...but isn't that usually the case. Merely managing the groups and adding the discussion forums takes a bit of time, let alone reading and grading them.

I just hope this works well and that the students benefit. I think they will because it will allow for further study into many of the disorders we will discuss. This must be better than me just talking at them! At least they will need to give their input and thoughts.

I will update you as to how this endeavor goes. I assume it will not go without problems, just how big the problems I'm not sure yet!