Well, I survived.The fall semester is over with a couple of mouse clicks. Papers and projects submitted to PhDU and grades submitted for HBCU.
On my run this morning, I was thinking about the semester and how everything turned out. I found myself using my advisor's method of giving feedback. She uses the phrases "I liked", "I learned", and "I suggest". It really is an effective means of giving someone positive and negative feedback without feeling like you are being too harsh or just focusing on the good stuff.
With that in mind, I began to evaluation my semester by diving it into three areas: PhDU, HBCU and myself. So here goes part one.
The fall semester at PhDU
This was my first semester as a fully admitted student. I also took two classes instead of one.
I liked: My classes, especially qualitative methods. My instructor for qualitative methods was just amazing. She used the scaffold method to help us build on the poster presentation and final paper. She kept the class very active, especially for it being at such a late time during the day. I am bummed that she will not be teaching the second half of the course in the spring.
I also like my Assessment and Evaluation Theory course, although I don't think my classmates shared the same feeling. It was one of those courses which required the student to do a great deal of self learning and discovery, something I am used to from being in law school. I don't think my fellow classmates have not experienced or were not used to doing. The project really wasn't too bad, just a lot of sweat labor getting all the pieces together.
I liked that I have the opportunity to work on two research projects with my advisor. The projects are two conference proposals that will ultimately become something that we will submit for publishing. I get second author status, which is super cool. I will receive credit for my work with my advisor, which means one less class I have to take. It really boosts my confidence that my advisor is confident in my skills and knowledge. One of the proposals was accepted, so now we are waiting on the other conference proposal. Next year is going to be super busy.
I learned: There is a lot more to doing qualitative research than I realized prior to the course. Transcription sucks. I told Husband that he needs to use his computer programming and software engineering skills to come up with software and an app that would make the process less painful. I noticed that my lawyer skills really worked well with drafting interview questions and interviewing participants.
For evaluation theory, I learned that I am actually pretty good at it. I think mainly because I've been though the process as a department chair, but I also think it's part of my personality of constantly wanting to see how things are working. I also learned that I really need to revamp the course that I teach. I used my course as part of a learning activity and I found that I am not hitting the outcomes that I have set. Over the break, I am going to reverse engineer my course.
I learned that I actually know what the hell I am doing with respect to this PhD thing. I have a good grasp of the concepts for my program, thanks in part to my extra reading outside of class, but also because I really like this stuff.
I suggest: I am trying to find a balance between writing like a lawyer and writing like an academic. Writing like a lawyer is very analytical. You are trying prove something and using the law to back up your assertions. No where in legal writing does your personal opinion come into play. To quote Denzel in Training Day, "It's not what you know, it's what you can prove". I would follow that with what my Constitutional law professor told on day one of class "Check your ego and opinions at the door." Needless to say, my academic writing is very structured and very analytical, and no where do I indicated what I think about the data or theory. If I do put forth an opinion, it is qualified. So, I am working on finding my voice in academic writing. It's a work in progress.
Overall, It was a good semester at PhDU. I am confident in my work there and I am learning and growing as an academic. I am looking forward to next semester.
Up next, evaluation of my semester at HBCU.