04 November 2007

It's Tedious, Thanks

My dissertation goes in fits and starts. I'm not sure if it has prostate issues...or if it's a symptom of juggling all of the various things I need to do. I look at the calendar and know I'll be over the hump by Christmas---three out of five chapters done (and the ones which take the most time and paper, at that). It's all of the pre-planning for the project...building my case for why my question is worthy of investigation.

It's an incredibly tedious process. I went to the dermatologist earlier this week and when asked for my hobbies, all I said was "Writing my dissertation." Seriously, I'm not sure what I will do with my "free time" when this beast is done. It's not the "Who cares?" part of constructing the paper which takes so much time and headspace, it's the "Who says?" issue of tracking down all of the various pieces of published research that have come before mine. After all, I'm just a lowly grad student. Nobody really cares what I have to say on the topic...at least not until my degree is finished.

The funny part is seeing the intersection of the theory with what occurs in my classroom. A lot of my research is about student motivation. The prevailing idea is that kids will adopt one of two orientations: mastery (learning for the sake of learning) or performance (learning for a reward). Within those, kids may either adopt positive behaviors (approach) or negative ones (avoidance). As I talked with students last week about their progress at the quarter, I could almost peg each kid's motivational orientation just by talking to them. Procrastinator? Classic avoidance. Trying to get into Running Start next year? Hey, you're into performance goals. And so on. The classroom environment I've worked to create is one of mastery. How kids are adopting that as time goes on is interesting to watch. Certainly my own students won't be involved in my research---but it is an interesting anecdotal phenomenon for me.

For now, it is back to my paper. The supporting research for chapter two is all organized and ready to write about. I'm about one-quarter of the way done with the writing, but certainly starting the downhill slide. All of the hard work hitting the books is done. I just have to make some sense out of it for other people. In a year, the finishing touches will go on after my committee has ripped it to shreds and asked for a rebuild. And in two years? Who knows. At the moment, I'm more about the little details than the big picture.


Clix said...

Okay, just to offer YOU a chance to procrastinate... ;)

Did you have your master's when you started teaching? If not, how long did you teach before starting your master's? Your doctorate? Before beginning the curriculummy job stuff?

Were such things always part of your career goals? If so, why? If not, how did they develop?

The Science Goddess said...

Help! There's an enabler in the comments! :)

I didn't have my MEd when I started; however the district I worked for had a policy that you had to have a Master's degree within 5 years of being hired...or your contract would be terminated. So, I started at the end of my second year taking summer courses, and earned it by the middle of my fourth year of teaching. I can't say I was entirely invested in the process, other than achieving job security. I ended up leaving that district at the end of the fifth year, but having my MEd bumped me up on the pay scale here. So, I can't complain.

I started my doctorate during my 15th year of teaching---and while working in Curriculum. I thought it would provide me with some better tools for working with peers. And as long as I was doing a ton of reading and learning for my job, I might as well get a degree out of it.

I didn't picture a doctorate as part of my career plan until maybe a year before I started working on it. My work in Curriculum really jumpstarted my intellectual curiosity again and expanded my horizons.

It will be interesting to discover where my career path leads next.

Thanks for asking!

Hugh O'Donnell said...

"My work in Curriculum really jumpstarted my intellectual curiosity again and expanded my horizons."

That's about what happened to me also! A major lurch! :)