Dissertation Proposal…check

Friday (9/16) I successfully presented my dissertation proposal and have permission to move forward.  (Which explains why this blog has been so quiet – all my writing has been focused on my dissertation research.)

Some Background

I have done the work.  I have searched (and continue to search) the literature.  I have written and rewritten over 100 pages (which is now whittled down to about 50).  I have had my dissertation adviser changed twice, and my committee reorganized three times.  With all this change there have been many different preferences and explanations I have had to provide throughout the entire process leading up to the proposal date.

All this change made me unusually nervous.  I have given many presentations.  I have managed classrooms of 40+ students.  I have presented to large auditoriums of people.  But all the change throughout this process made me uneasy.

Some Realizations

I am a Teacher.

When I finally moved into what I call “teacher mode” the presentation went smoothly.  I am a teacher at heart, and it is evident in the success I find when I’m in “teacher mode.”

This realization came first during a point with lots of questions. After quick short answers of “yes” to one question and “no” to the other, I proceeded to expand upon the yes and build to explain the no.  At the conclusion of my explanation I turned to the one who asked the second question (the one with the “no” response) and asked if there was something still bothering her.  She looked at me and first said, “How did you know I had another question?”  Internally I responded “Because I’m a teacher.”

But really, how did I know?  I knew because she had asked one of the initial questions and while I knew the one question was fully supported, this second question had the potential to still be muddy.  I knew because I could see it on her face.  I knew by the look of the other committee member that the other question had been thoroughly answered.  But as a teacher, I knew I need to make sure I followed up on her first question to ensure that I addressed the question adequately.

The Citations…

In preparing for this presentation, I knew that I need to demonstrate that I had thoroughly reviewed the research.  The foundation of my study needed to be constructed of previous research.  However, I struggle with remembering names and including them naturally in a conversation. (This is not unique to research – my sisters will always win at the “guess the name and artist on the radio game”.  I may know every single word of the song, may even know how to play it, but struggle to remember the artist and title.)  I don’t struggle as much in the writing, but definitely in the speaking.

In creating my presentation I made sure that I included the citations on the slides (they would be my “cheat sheet”).  At the beginning of the presentation I made a conscious effort to include the names, but it was when I let myself talk about the concepts in “teacher mode” that the connections became more clear.  One committee member said, “I wish you could have recorded that so you could hear how well you made the connections.  Those connections need to be equally clear in your chapter 2.”

Now to just put my “teacher mode” into my writing.


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