Thursday, March 1, 2012

Things I've Learned in Grad School #4

Some people believe that ingesting certain substances (i.e., wine, beer, pot, whatever it is that floats your boat) really brings out their creative genius and enhances their performance. This is not true. However, I have found (and have heard fellow academic-types agree) that sipping on a glass of wine, or a fine dark beer (my advisor recommends Guinness or something similar) really can aid your writing. It relaxes your inhibitions just enough to really get the words flowing, without totally incapacitating you. May not be your finest writing, but you're gonna' go back and edit, anyway, and at least then you have something to edit instead of having nothing--or that single sentence on which you have spent the last half-hour trying to make it "perfect."

And now I am going to top off my glass and get back to that paper...

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Things I've Learning in Grad School #3

Being humble, helpful, and generally nice does not mean you have to allow people to walk all over you.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Things I've Learned in Grad School #2

When in doubt, go with "it depends"--a pretty reliable answer to almost any question. Granted, you might have to be prepared to next discuss on what "it" depends--but if nothing else, it'll buy you some time :)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Things I've learned in Grad School: #1

New weekly post idea: things I've learned during this grad school/doc program thing--and mostly those things I've learned OUTSIDE of the classroom (with a few exceptions, I'm sure), but still directly related to my enrollment in the program.

The very first lesson learned in grad school: Grad school can make you doubt your ability to get along in the real world. Then again, one must remember that grad school is a far cry from the real world.

And yet another new dissertation idea...

Qualitative study--interviews with teachers working at Durango High School as they prepare to launch the new learning-communities model in August 2012.

Freshman and sophomore students at Durango will select one of three learning communities within the larger high school to commit themselves for the first two years of their high school experience (during Junior and Senior years, it sounds like they will still "belong" to their learning community, but be free to take a wider range of electives). The three learning communities: (1) the DaVinci school of creativity and innovation; (2) the Atlas international school of inquiry; and (3) the Basecamp school of expeditionary learning. Apparently, this model was actually formulated and proposed by the teachers at the school, and they are currently participating in additional professional development to prepare for this change in the upcoming school year. As I said above, I want to interview the teachers about the process--the development of the idea and proposals from teachers' perspectives, their process in selecting a community of which to be a part, anticipated challenges and opportunities, the professional development opportunities (and if teachers find them to be sufficient, or if there is additional support they feel they would like), etc.

Haven't even started reviewing the literature, yet, so this is a very early-stage idea, but doable (as long as the school district and teachers will have me!)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

New dissertation idea...

Who knew picking a dissertation topic could lead to an identity crisis? It likely would not have been an issue had I been prepared to start data collection at the beginning of this semester for my original topic - but I wasn't. I needed an actual vacation over the summer. And I'm not too excited about the idea of waiting until next fall, so I've been trying since summer to come up with a new, doable topic about which I am excited. Lots and lots of possibilities that I like and can see myself doing, but nothing quite gave me that "YES!!! THAT is what I will do!!" feeling.

However, while browsing a dissertation that I am referencing in one of my comps projects today, it struck me that quite a few authors of the dissertations I have looked at (and trust me, when you do a meta-analysis, you look at a LOT of dissertations) include their pets in the acknowledgements section. You know, the "I would like to thank (fill in the blank) for their guidance and support" etc., etc. There are really quite a few people that include dogs, cats, horses, birds, and an assortment of other pets in their thanks. I guess I didn't pay much attention to this when looking at dissertations focusing on animal-assisted activities/therapy - you would almost expect that anyone writing a dissertation relevant to the human-animal bond would acknowledge the role of their own pets. But the dissertation I was referencing today was in a field totally unrelated to the human-animal interaction, and yet here the author was, thanking her dog for his role in helping her to successfully complete the program and earn her degree.

And then it hit me - why not use THIS as the topic of my dissertation? The role of pets/companion animals in the lives of graduate students. It has a nice ring to it. I could look at dissertations in which the authors acknowledge & thank their pets. I could look at rates of students earning their graduate degree who have pets vs don't. I could do some interviews and look at the type of pet, quality of relationship, etc. - why are these students attributing their success in school, at least in part, to their pets?

And, as a friend and fellow doc student pointed out, it is blatantly related to EDUCATION (since my degree is in educational psychology, after all).

Just a seed of an idea, at this point, but an idea that has captured my interest enough to blog about it, so I can remember this idea later and explore further.

And now, back to that comps paper responsible for starting this thought...

Monday, July 11, 2011


I've gotten some useful advice throughout my life--especially as of late--so thought I'd pass it along :) Feel free to share YOUR best advice, too!

"Explore the gray; don't look for black and white answers. Allow for there to be uncertainty and eventually an answer will come to you." (via Melissa Klein)

Regarding finding "balance" in life (paraphrased in my words): "Most people think of achieving balance as reaching a stagnant state. But if you look at balance in nature, the tide goes in; the tide goes out. Molecules diffuse across a cell membrane in one direction, and then move back again. [Things are in a constant state of flux, and therein lies the balance]... You can either hang on to the dock and try to stop the tide from coming in, or you can let go and just bob along in the water for awhile."

"Sometimes you need to smile and nod, and then go do your own thing."

"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." (Dr. Seuss)

"Sincere forgiveness isn't colored with expectations that the other person apologize of change. Don't worry whether or not they finally understand you. Love them and release them. Life feeds back truth to people in its own way and time." (Sara Paddison)

"Don't take life too seriously. You'll never get out of it alive." (Elbert Hubbard)

"Everything works out in the end. If it doesn't work out, it's not the end." (my mother)