Grad school as you always imagined it

Yesterday was a welcome reprieve from my data analysis and writing isolation. I connected with people in this field, both old and new, and doing so reminded me of how I always imagined my graduate school experience would be like.

Over the past three years or so, Wendy and I’ve had many insightful conversations about our research in the GRAIL lab, and yesterday was no different. We had begun our current discussion about Activity Theory (AT) via email and it continued unabated in the lab. I had been struggling to understand the levels of an activity (activity-action-operation) and Wendy directed me to Kuuti (1995), which clarified these somewhat.

I also met briefly with Clare and Hedieh to set up a meeting next week to talk about conference proposals.

Next, I met with my wonderful alternate rater, to debrief the practice coding we had done and to move forward to the actual coding. We are going to work on interrater reliability forsegmentation of the units to be analyzed, as suggested by researchers like Strijbos, Martens, Prins, & Jochems (2006) before we do this coding.

Then I got to catch up with Kim, whom I used to see more regulary last year when we assisted Clare teach the MT ed psyc classes, collaborated on research group projects, and took the teaching in higher ed course together. Bemoaning our thesis work is a key part of our socialization into the academy 🙂 However, Kim is also very good at giving me pep talks (thanks Kim!) and hopefully she can use some of my suggestions in her data collection.

The new colleague I met yesterday in person is Joan. It’s always exciting to meet new people who share interests in ideas. We found out that we enjoy reading each other’s weblogs, and I now feel more comfortable about commenting on her’s, because I wasn’t sure how I would be received.

Last but not least. On my commute home, I chatted with a cognitive psychology professor, Brenda,
about her dissertation experiences. I really appreciated her honest accounts of the challenges of research. She reminded me of the famous Albert Einstein quote:

If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?

I was also reassured by her account of her thesis defense, in which the external external examiner posed an unexpectedly tough question, and how she proceeded to respond successfully to it.

All in all, a banner day. Although there is much individual intellectual work that goes into thesis research, I find it exciting to connect to other members of the academic community on a regular basis.


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