Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Hi all. Just a quick note to let you know that I'm working, but not so much on my dissertation. The job market takes a good chunk of time, more than I was maybe anticipating. So I haven't been doing a whole lot of writing on it lately. I've been working like a crazy people (and you know how productive crazy people are), but the diss is stalled. I'm hoping to get back on the chapter horse in mid February. But I'll be checking back in.

Best of luck to all of you.

A Little Incentive?

This term, I spend Wednesday dissertating. No teaching. No tutoring. No telephone calls. No television. No nothing. Just the computer, my notes, some coffee, and a dog sleeping on my feet. So far today, I've written (edited) for about two hours. I'm already a little tired, and it's only 10:45 in the morning.

So. I've devised a plan for myself. A little incentive. I will work until 3:00 p.m. -- work consistently without getting sidetracked by other things (after this, the Internet goes off). At 3:00 . . . if I have been consistent . . . I will take myself either to the Japanese gardens or to the zoo, so I can take some pictures (half priced Wednesdays!). I'll also take myself to Panera for a soup bowl. Yum! I'll take a draft copy of a chapter with me so while I'm gobbling up some soup, I can do some sentence-level editing.

Edited to Add: The incentive planned worked. I was able to get quite a bit of wrting done yesterday.

Cross posted at Parts-n-Pieces.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Getting back to work

I'm happy to say that I'm back to work on my diss. I'm psyching myself up to really recommit to making substantial progress on my work. I had lost some of my enthusiasm late last term, but I'm excited again. I've got the long-term schedule plotted out and it is manageable. I'm already ahead of things on my weekly schedule. Feeling all right.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Prospectus Approved!

Hello everyone! I haven't contributed to this blog in a long time.  But the truth is, I haven't made a lot of progress on the diss worth mentioning.  I've been stuck on my prospectus for various reasons.  All in all, it has taken me about 8 frustrating months of writing, rewriting, and waiting. I'm now finished, though!  No more revisions, edits, or conversations about it!  All of my committee has verbally signed off, and I have successfully set a meeting where we'll make everything official.  It's been a long, long, embarassingly long prospectus-writing process.  I know I have a dissertation ahead of me, but I still feel like celebrating right now.  Anyway, just thought I'd share.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

How about starting at the beginning...

Hi folks - Just a quick post to introduce myself.

My name is Rebecca. Some of you may have stumbled on my more broad-based blog. (It tends to be kind of stream of consciousness or whatever is annoying me/happening on a given day.)

I am just starting to work on my dissertation proposal in Education Policy. (Specifically I am looking at what traits make a student more or less likely to be successful in charter schools.) I am at an R1 in the southwest.

My progress is likely to be slow this term. I have been invited to a seminar in late March for "outstanding" graduate students that is intended to help us formulate our proposals. That means the focus of the next few months will be on the theoretical/philosophical issues of my work; thinking and conceptualizing really.

I'll stick my head in here from time to time and post an update, encouragement, my own whining, etc. Thanks for welcoming me!

A Moment of Dissertation Frustration (aka Whinefest)

I've been writing at my second case study for about six weeks, maybe longer. It seems like longer. And I can't seem to move forward, really at all . . . I'm stuck in the midst of issues that are so large and so complex that I can't seem get out and focus on the one thing that I need to focus on: student writing.

Overall, I'm writing about specific student-athletes in revenue-producing sports. With this case study subject, however, I'm having a very hard time separating HIM from all the NOISE around him. I need to focus on his writing, yet issues of athletics (and he was a "star" of sorts), race, and gender factor into it all. Not only those issues-- which in and of themselves can be written around-- but there are academic preparedness issues, socialization issues, basic writing (debates within and outside the classroom), and this was the year of my research that the whole class had behavioral issues. Intense and serious behavioral issues. This particular student/subject in the 2nd case study represents the second year of my research study, and this was the year of dealing with grown men who behaved as children in so many ways, really muscular and tall and heavy children (some of them with sociopathic tendencies)-- there was a grad student observing the class (and observing me) for his thesis, there were a lot of university stakeholders observing this course from around campus and that weighed on me (as they all had something to say about how I did my job) . . . . In some ways, these issues do not pertain to the student/subject at all, but in many more ways, they do. I just keep getting sucked into all these other issues and I'm not easily able to focus on the students' writing.

Maybe I've just having difficulty separating **my** emotional investment in the course as both a teacher and as a researcher from the one thing that I need to write about: how the student's writing changed throughout the year and how this course (my pedagogy) affected that transformation. So, my plan is to move to another chapter -- just work on something else -- and let the dust and the noise settle around this case study.

Yesterday, I sent the case study to a friend of mine who is an educational psychologist and she's done tons of case studies. She said she'd look at it and get back with me Monday about where I'm getting stalled. She might be able to offer some insight. I truly hope so. I think it's probably too late to change my dissertation topic.

Cross-posted: PartsnPieces

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Boot Camp Roll Call!

Hello, all! Just a quick roll-call. There are a number of folks on the blogroll to the right who, well, don't post here. Please let me know if you are still actively engaged (but quiet). In other words, do you want to remain on the blogroll? Secondly, there are a number of folks who visit here regularly, but who don't post or comment. Do you want to? Send me an email, and I'll add you to the group [partsnpieces [at] gmail [dot] com]

Let's support each other that important goal of finishing the dissertation.

Billie's Update

To keep myself accountable and motivated, I bought a calendar -- ala Seinfeld-- that I can cross days off with a big red X each day that I write. And I've been writing-- something-- everyday. I also have been working with my bibliographic software (and that counts as "work," too). The goal for today is to FINISH this blasted 2nd case study. I've had such a hard time with it -- I wish I could shoot it, burn it, shred it . . . something. I suppose, though, the most productive thing would be to finish it and send it off to advisor.

And I aim to be productive.

Monday, January 7, 2008

New Year, New Goals, New Tricks (and a Seinfeld connection)

Greetings dissertators! After a knee injury, I'm back at work and working. (ha!) Today, I've gotten quite a bit done on the dissertation. I updated my EndNote (reference) files, I worked on a concept map for my literature review, and I've continued to write at a case study. That doesn't sound like a lot of work, but actually, it was. And it all counts toward work on the dissertation. I checked it off on the calendar.

What does that mean, you might be asking yourself.

Several months ago on Lifehacker, I read about Jerry Seinfeld and his productivity secret. In short, Seinfeld has a giant wall calendar, and for each day that he writes, he places a big "X" on that day's square. There becomes a motivation to not "break the chain" of Xs. I've started that process. Each day that I work on the diss-- no matter what it is that I have to do, as long as I do something-- I check off that day on the calendar.

My graduation goal is now August 2008.

Another trick I've begun to use: I use iGoogle for my home page as I can use a number of widgets (and I just love widgets!) that help organize me and my time. One of those widgets is a countdown calendar. As I look at my homepage on the other monitor, I see that there are 214 days until my graduation. It mocks me. It taunts me. But I'll meet that goal. I have a similar widget on my Facebook profile, so I don't spend too much time out there. If there is that number staring me in the face, I feel compelled to get to work.

How about you? Any productivity tips you want to share?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

New Year

Happy New Year to all DBCers out there. I hope those of you who traveled to Chicago for MLA made it out alive. I was in the Fairmont and I swear it was just pulsing with panic. I hope everyone had a lovely holiday, as well.

I'm back to dissertation writing and need to prepare/polish a few job talks, so I'll keep you posted on that. I wrote 1100 words today, so I'm feeling good about that. I should have this chapter done in a few days (thought I'd have it done before I left, but didn't quite get there). My job talk will probably come out of this chapter, so that will help me revise it as well.

Hope everyone out there is doing well and, like Billie, I wish you all a calm, joyous, and productive year.