Sunday, January 28, 2007

Confusion Can Create Clarification

Hi, all. Like my alliteration? :-) I hope your week is going well and that you are achieving your goals. I'm hanging in.

This past week, I had a lot of IRB (Institutional Review Board, approves work with human subjects) issues, and it threw a kink in my productivity (like I needed any additional excuse). These IRB issues have been dragging on for quite some time, but they came to a head this week, and I realized just how tedious and time consuming the work that required IRB input could be. Secondly, I realized how difficult working with some folks can be, particularly when they don't share the passion for the work. (These folks would be IRB administrative assistants.) Thirdly, though, and this actually might be the good news, the IRB issues brought to mind a point about the dissertation: I should simplify. I was working to construct a quantitative and a qualitative dissertation, dealing with student and faculty surveys, an ethnographic study, and a longitudinal study . . . . analyzing student writing, survey responses, a particular course I teach. It was just too much and I couldn't wrap my little fingers around it all to begin to write about it. As it stood, my dissertation was probably going to be 8 or 9 chapters long. That's just too much for this kind of dissertation and for what I need to do to finish.

So. The IRB issues-- while a pain-- did get me to rethink the direction of my work and to simplify. I think it was Chris who said: K.I.S.S. (keep it simple, stupid). That's my goal.

More concretely, however, my goal this week is to draft the pedagogy chapter. By Friday, I'll have a draft for the advisor.


Abby said...

Glad that something positive came out of what is typically a pretty frustrating process.

In the spirit of K.I.S.S. I offer this: Don Murray's memorial was this past Saturday and one of his former students explained that the last piece of advice he got from Don (Don loved to send quotes and snippets of writing advice) was S.O.F.T.: Say One F'ing Thing.

While the dissertation is much more complicated that than, the everyday writing is often in need of this kind of advice I think. Apply your butt to the chair and say one f'ing thing.

Billie said...

I love that, Abby! I never knew Donald Murray, but I've read a lot of his work. How wonderful that you (all) got to know and work with him. S.O.F.T. is an easy acronym to remember . . . and it's something I can do. (Ok, I can remember it AND I can write one F'ing thing!) :-)