Thursday, November 28, 2013

Nov 28: Surviving and Thriving in Graduate School - PhD

What a great day!!  Today I hosted the first of four conversations in the Surviving and Thriving in Graduate School series.  A big thank you to Gwyneth Meyers, Educational Technology / Learning Sciences, and Tanya Mudry, Counselling, who shared their deep expertise and experiences as post-candidacy doctoral students and fielded many questions from their peers about strategies for success in preparing the research proposal and getting ready for candidacy exam.

"Keep writing - every sentence is a sentence closer to being done"

It was very exciting to attract and to engage with 25 doctoral students from across specializations in a conversation about the doctoral research proposal and candidacy exam. The conversation took place in Education Tower 114, the "Glass Oral Exam Room", in Graduate Programs in Education office. Given the interest, and range of questions, I aim to book future conversations that focus exclusively on the candidacy exam and the dissertation oral exam. Stay tuned!

Graduate Programs in Education Resources

Several resources on the GPE Website will be helpful as doctoral students navigate the development of their research proposal and prepare for candidacy.  You will find the following documents on the GPE Website that will guide the preparation of your research proposal and preparation for candidacy exam:
Our School of Education is unique in that we offer two doctoral program pathways:
Doctoral students in both pathways complete coursework both in research methodology and in their discipline, prepare a research proposal, sit a candidacy oral exam based on the research proposal, and then write a dissertation that is examined by committee in the dissertation oral exam.  You can study the distinctions between the Research PhD and the Professional EdD

Faculty of Graduate Studies
  • My GradSkills provides a comprehensive range of professional and academic development opportunities to give graduate students the skills they need to succeed before and after graduation, such as academic writing, preparing for candidacy and project management: http://grad.ucalgary.ca/mygradskills.
     
  • 3MT - Three Minute Thesis Competition, an internationally recognized research communication competition developed by The University of Queensland in 2008. The exercise challenges thesis based graduate students to present a compelling presentation on their thesis topic and its significance in three minutes or lesshttp://grad.ucalgary.ca/mygradskills/3MT
University of Calgary Library
  • Student Services:  There is a diverse array of courses offered by the Library on Literature Search (Very Important and Useful!!), Academic Writing, Thesis Formatting, Mendeley, EndNote, RefWorks, and more. I encourage all graduate students to take advantage of these great learning opportunities:  http://library.ucalgary.ca/workshops
In conclusion, this is only a start to our ongoing conversations in Graduate Programs about how to Survive and Thrive in Graduate School, and a starting list of resources - I hope you find this blog one stocked with vital resources to scaffold and support your success in the doctoral program. Upcoming conversations are listed below.

-->
Winter 2014

Surviving and Thriving as an Education Doctoral Student
Online, Tues, January 28 - 1800-1930

In this second session, Dr. Michele Jacobsen and two colleagues, Dr. Jennifer Lock and Dr. Veronika Bohac-Clarke, will co-host a conversation that demystifies the transition from Year 1 to Year 2 in the Education Doctorate.

Surviving and Thriving in the Specialist MEd
Online Tues, February 25 - 1800-1930

In this third session, Dr. Michele Jacobsen, and Dr. Sal Mendaglio and Dr. Jim Brandon, will co-host a conversation that demystifies the transition from Year 1 to Year 2 in the Specialist MEd.

Surviving and Thriving as a Master’s Thesis Student
March 13, from 1:00 – 2:00 PM
Graduate Programs Office, EDT 114a

In this fourth session Dr. Michele Jacobsen and Dr. Sharon Cairns from Educational Research and Educational Psychology will co-host a conversation that demystifies the transition from Research Proposal to Thesis Oral Exam. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Surviving and Thriving in Graduate School

Over the next few months, I am hosting the following conversations with graduate students:

Fall 2013

Surviving and Thriving in your PhD Program: Research Proposal to Candidacy
November 28, from 1:00 – 2:00 PM
Graduate Programs Office, EDT 114a


In this first session Dr. Jacobsen and Post Candidacy Doctoral Students from Educational Research and Educational Psychology will host a conversation that demystifies the transition from Research Proposal to Candidacy Exam.

Winter 2014

Surviving and Thriving as an Education Doctoral Student
Online, Tues, January 28 - 1800-1930
Join:  https://elluminate.ucalgary.ca/join_meeting.html?meetingId=1276154823861

In this second session, Dr. Michele Jacobsen, Dr. Veronika Bohac-Clarke and Dr. Jennifer Lock will host a conversation that demystifies the transition from Year 1 to Year 2 in the Education Doctorate.

Surviving and Thriving in the Specialist MEd
Online Tues, February 25 - 1800-1930
Join:  https://elluminate.ucalgary.ca/join_meeting.html?meetingId=1276154823862

In this third session, Dr. Michele Jacobsen, Dr. Jim Brandon and Dr. Sal Mendaglio will host a conversation that demystifies the transition from Year 1 to Year 2 in the Specialist MEd.

Surviving and Thriving as a Master’s Thesis Student
March 13, from 1:00 – 2:00 PM
Graduate Programs Office, EDT 114a

In this fourth session, Dr. Michele Jacobsen, with Dr. Sylvie Roy, Educational Research and Dr. Sharon Cairns, Educational Psychology, will host a conversation that demystifies the transition from Research Proposal to Thesis Oral Exam. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Getting Started - Developing Strong Supervisory Relationships

This week, I got to sit down with new faculty colleagues for a conversation about Graduate Programs in Education and Graduate Supervision.  In preparation for that meeting, I assembled a few "must have" documents that every New Graduate Supervisor in Education should have in their toolkit in order to study and prepare to be a Great Graduate Supervisor.

1. Faculty of Graduate Studies Calendar - Online , PDF and Hardcopy

Grab the Calendar and your highlighter and prepare to learn these sections:
  • Academic Schedule - vital for your course-based teaching and for deadlines
  • Awards and Financial Assistance - helps you advise students on funding
  • Fees and expenses - become aware of what students pay to be here
  • Academic regulations - grades, progress reports, time limits, appeals, principles of conduct, integrity in scholarly activity - you must read all of this
  • Handbook of Supervision and Examination - Online and PDF
  • A vital section of the Graduate Studies Calendar is the Handbook of Supervision and Examination, found on pages 35 - 48. Do not pass go, and do not undertake supervision without reading and understanding every section in the Handbook. 
  • Everything you need to know about examinations can be found here, and also on the Graduate Programs in Education Website (see below for specifics). Every graduate supervisor has the responsibility to know the rules and regulations surrounding supervision of graduate students and for the scheduling and conduct of exams. There is a specific section on the Role and Responsibilities of the Graduate Supervisor, p. 47-48, which every supervisor should know by heart. There are also sections on Faculty, Program and Student roles and responsibilities, that should be read and understood as part of our collective commitment to student experience and success.
  • Graduate Programs in Education (GPE) Program Descriptions, p 62 - 73
  • Read and understand and memorize the requirements for the programs in which you supervise students. It is not "nice to know", it is "Must Know" information. 
2. Graduate Supervision - FGS Web
  • Checklist of Expectations for Graduate Student and Supervision
  • Faculty of Graduate Studies Intellectual Property Awareness
Graduate Supervisors work closely with masters and doctoral students during the entire thesis-based program, from admission to orientation to graduation. One tool that supports clear communication is the Student-Supervisor Checklist. During the early weeks / months of a working with a graduate student, be sure to discuss expectations and goals using the checklist, establish a regular meeting schedule, establish a timeline with the student for major program goals, review the intellectual property checklist, and discuss other issues that are relevant to your discipline and your work together.

In Graduate Programs in Education, we expect all Graduate Supervisors and Graduate Students to review an discuss all elements of the Student-Supervisor Checklist together, and to put a co-signed copy on file once all topics on the checklist have been discussed. 

3. Graduate Course-based Teaching

Graduate Program Timelines and Dues Dates have been established for textbook orders, course outline approvals and the posting of the course outlines for each Semester. Study these due dates so that you submit your Graduate Course outlines and textbook orders ON TIME, so that Graduate Programs in Education can get these out to students as soon as possible in preparation for the semester.
  • Textbook Orders: Apr 15 for Fall; Oct 15 for Winter; Jan 31 for Spring/Summer
  • Course Outline to EDSA Chair:  Aug 1 - Fall; Nov 15 - Winter; Apr 1 - Sp / Jun 1 - Sum
It has been rumored that the Associate Dean takes people who are consistently early or on time with their course outlines to lunch. You heard it here first, folks.

4. Graduate Programs in Education (GPE) - Policy and Processes

The Faculty of Education offers several masters programs; it is important that you study each of these in preparing to advise your students:
Our Faculty is unique in that we offer two doctoral program pathways:
It is important that you understand that both of our Doctoral programs require doctoral students to complete coursework, to prepare a research proposal, to successfully complete a candidacy oral exam based on the research proposal, and to write a dissertation that is examined by committee in the dissertation oral exam.  Study the websites to better understand the distinctions between the Research PhD and the Professional EdD. You will find the following documents on the GPE Website, and it is expected that you will read, study and become familiar with the expectations for examinations in order to advise your students well and to successfully mentor them in achieving success.
In conclusion, this is only a starting list, but one with vital resources to support you in your goal of advising students well and becoming a great graduate supervisor.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Bringing Critical and Informed Connoisseurship to Educational Research

In Graduate Programs in Education, we are continually involved in new course design, and in therenewal and evolution of our current course and program designs. For example, I am working with a collaborative course design group right now to study and discuss the design of one of our research courses:  EDER 701.09 Participatory Methodology in Education.


Educational Research involves a range and diversity of research methodologies in the conduct of both basic and applied research. In our Faculty of Education, we offer graduate programs in seven specialized areas of study. There is diversity in the research methodologies in use across the seven specializations – however, these are most often related to the standards, literatures, research methodologies and approaches to analysis and presentation of research that are characteristic of those disciplines of study, rather than any differences in the quality, integrity and robustness of the research. 

Research in the Faculty of Education spans the range from basic to applied – our Faculty includes researchers and graduate students who emphasize basic research that is carried out in highly controlled contexts and applied research that delves into the complexities present in authentic contexts and populations.  Research and disciplined inquiry of all kinds, from experimental / correlational, to mixed methods and survey research, to historical inquiry, ethnography, interpretive and philosophical inquiry, to different types of action research, participatory action, community participatory action, and design based research is valued and relevant, and gets conducted by both Faculty and by Graduate students across the Faculty of Education.  

We have seven broad areas of specialization, and within each of the Educational Study Areas (EDSAs), we have faculty and graduate students who bring diverse perspectives and disciplinary expertise, along with different research traditions and expectations, to their research.   The range and diversity of research problems, research methodologies and different disciplines of study can be a bit overwhelming when new and experienced Education Faculty members, or even a faculty member from a discipline beyond our faculty, is asked to serve as an examiner for a thesis or dissertation. 

At the thesis oral exam, what examiners are asked to judge is the quality of a student’s research – which can be a challenge for an experimental researcher to feel qualified or informed enough to make a judgment on an interpretive study, and vice versa. It can also be a challenge for faculty who hold deep expertise in one discipline to feel qualified to make a judgment on a study carried out in another discipline. However difficult, that is the task that is before us as faculty members when we examine a student’s work.

So, in our research and specialization courses and across our masters and doctoral programs, our responsibility is to introduce and immerse masters and doctoral students in the complexity, range and diversity of educational research philosophies, methodologies and perspectives in order for them to develop and bring a critical and informed connoisseurship to their selection and use of research methodology in their own research.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Ongoing Professional Learning for Graduate Students

The Graduate Experience goes well beyond courses and your relationship with your supervisor - although, these are two very important and key components of your graduate program.  Graduate students who aim to fully engage in their graduate program and the entire graduate experience as a developing researcher and educator have many options beyond coursework for professional learning and scholarly engagement.

There are a number of great graduate seminars, workshops and learning opportunities offered by several groups at the University of Calgary:

Faculty of Education
  • Thursday Noon Seminars - Every week, a helpful seminar or workshop organized by the Research Office, GPESA or the EDSAs is held in the Faculty of Education to support Student Success. Check out the upcoming seminars here:  http://educ.ucalgary.ca/node/2329 
  • October Poster Fair - Each Fall, the Research Office organizes a Graduate Student Poster Fair. This year the Poster Fair will take place on October 24th at TERA, EDT 830 from 3:30pm to 5pm. To submit a proposal to prepare and present a poster about your research, click here:  http://educ.ucalgary.ca/node/1219 - deadline Oct 17th!
    • Top 3 reasons Why you should present a poster about your research:
    • Reason 1: a chance to interact with other students and learn about their research
    • Reason 2: road-test your ideas
    • Reason 3: an opportunity to win an award for first, second, and third best research poster
  • Stay Tuned - Education 3MT Competition!!
Faculty of Graduate Studies
  • My GradSkills provides a comprehensive range of professional and academic development opportunities to give graduate students the skills they need to succeed before and after graduation: http://grad.ucalgary.ca/mygradskills.
     
  • 3MT - Three Minute Thesis Competition, an internationally recognized research communication competition developed by The University of Queensland in 2008. The exercise challenges thesis based graduate students to present a compelling presentation on their thesis topic and its significance in three minutes or lesshttp://grad.ucalgary.ca/mygradskills/3MT

University of Calgary Library
  • Student Services:  There is a diverse array of courses offered by the Library on Literature Search (Very Important and Useful!!), Academic Writing, Thesis Formatting, EndNote, RefWorks, and more. I encourage all graduate students to take advantage of these great learning opportunities:  http://library.ucalgary.ca/workshops

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Preparing for the Doctoral Dissertation Oral Exam

It gives me a great deal of satisfaction to work with graduate students. I am feeling absolutely terrific today because one of my graduate students successfully defended her Masters thesis yesterday. This summer, one of my doctoral students successfully defended her dissertation, and another of my masters students successfully defended his thesis. In the next few weeks, two of my doctoral students will face their candidacy exam.

In this post, I will write about how to prepare for the oral exam. There are several types of oral exam that require different kinds of preparation:  Doctoral Candidacy Oral, Masters Thesis Oral and Doctoral Dissertation Oral. I will focus on the Doctoral Dissertation Oral.

Step 1. Write a good quality doctoral dissertation.

As a graduate supervisor, it is my responsibility to assist my doctoral students with the selection and planning of a suitable and manageable research topic, to meet regularly with my student to discuss their academic progress and research, to respond in a timely manner to written work with constructive suggestions for improvement, to guide and support productive work with the supervisory committee, to support the student in applying for grants and scholarships, to be familiar with the rules and procedures of the Faculty of Graduate Studies, and Graduate Programs in Education, including the chronological sequence of events and deadline dates in a student’s program, to assist the student to be aware of current program requirements, deadlines, sources of funding, and general expectations of examinations, and to encourage the student to make presentations of research results within the University and to outside scholarly or professional bodies as appropriate. There are many other responsibilities and roles that a doctoral supervisor holds that build upon this list, including scheduling the Oral Exam. The University, the Graduate program, and graduate students have responsibilities too, and these are listed in the Handbook of Supervision and Examination at the University of Calgary. 


So, there are many stages and elements of doctoral supervision, mentorship and academic work that go into the doctoral student's completion of coursework, developing a research problem and questions, proposing a doctoral research study, preparing a research proposal, defending the doctoral research proposal during the candidacy exam, applying for ethical approval, carrying out the study, analyzing and interpreting data, and writing a good quality dissertation. I will speak to those in another post. 

Step 2. Prepare for the Oral Exam. 





Now, after several years of preparation, the dissertation is complete and the oral exam has been scheduled. The purpose of the Dissertation Oral defense is for the student to publicly discuss and defend their research as a scholarly contribution to the discipline and for the examining committee to make a collective decision on the quality and acceptability of the work (pass/fail) and to make any recommendations for revisions and improvement of the dissertation. 

At the University of Calgary, we invite students to prepare a short presentation on the dissertation, and to take the first 10 - 15 minutes of the 2 hour oral exam to address the examining committee.  

Part of preparation for the oral exam is to anticipate the examining committee's questions. For example, I ask my doctoral students to consider questions like these and to review their dissertation while thinking about how they might answer each one: 

  1. What motivated you to conduct this study? What need or problem does your study address?
  2. In planning and preparing for this study, what are the major theorists / researchers that influenced your design and thinking?
  3. Can you list and explain the main contributions of your study to your discipline, profession and or policy?
  4. In what way does your study build and extend upon the existing research / literature in your discipline? Contradict the research literature? Address gaps or questions in the literature?
  5. What new ideas did you learn about educational research, and about yourself as a researcher, by carrying out this study?
  6. Describe any unanticipated outcomes of findings that resulted from your study. Were there any surprises in your data collection, analysis of data, and synthesis of findings?
  7. Describe what worked well in the conduct of this study, and what would you change for a subsequent study of this kind?
  8. In what ways can you build and extend upon your study in the future?
  9. How might you mentor another graduate student who aimed to carry out research related to or replicating your study?
  10. Why did you choose the approach to data analysis used in your study? Are there other approaches to data analysis that you might have used?

Many other questions can be added to this initial list - however, the key point is preparation for the oral exam. Doctoral students know the ins and outs, strengths and weaknesses, findings and recommendations, of their study better than anyone else - even thought the examiners will have read the dissertation and have questions. So, I encourage my students to think about and prepare for potential questions, and to also feel confident in their academic writing and preparation that has lead up to the writing and completion of this dissertation. 

Finally, I always recommend that my doctoral students eat healthy meals, get some exercise and get several good nights of sleep prior to the exam so they can be in top form during the exam. 


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Faculty of Education Alumni - Fierce Dino Pride!!

An update on a project close to my heart that I have been working on for the last two years: Faculty of Education Alumni Profiles.

As a Four Time Alumnus - PhD 1998, M.Sc 1995, B.Ed 1993, B.A 1993, and an active member of the Education Alumni Chapter, I believe it is so important for our prospective students to become aware of the many diverse and exciting pathways that an undergraduate or graduate degree from the Faculty of Education, University of Calgary offers. I also believe it is very inspiring and motivating for our current students to learn of the ways in which their peers and alumni are translating their degree into satisfying careers and making a contribution to their community.

Originally, I started contacting a few alumni that I knew, and worked with each of them to prepare a profile using some broad themes:  your degree and when you graduated, memorable experiences in the Faculty of Education, what you have been doing since convocation, and how you stay connected to the Faculty.  I believe the Faculty of Ed Communications team helped me to publish about ten stories for our Alumni Profiles website in the first few months. As of today, The Faculty of Education has profiled thirty-five of our alumni on our website, along with contributing several extended Alumni stories to the U.Today and Education website (for examples: Cervatiuc, Nixon and Broughton).

I find it amazing to read about the significant accomplishments that Faculty of Education Alumni have achieved in teaching, coaching, counselling, leadership, international work and innovation in a variety of sectors - from education, to technology, to health care and transportation. Honestly, Education Alumni are making significant contributions and influencing their professions, their fields of study and their extended communities.

My goal is to populate the Education Alumni Profile site with the diverse stories that our graduates from all programs have to tell:  PhD, EdD, M.A, M.Sc., M.C., B.Ed! Ideally, Faculty of Education Alumni will began to contact us and offer to submit a profile. Consider this blog a part of our call to action for our thousands of Education Alumni - please contact me about writing a profile and submitting a photo for our growing website. It will be my pleasure to hear from alumni like you, and to work with you to profile your story.