Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Committee Meeting

this morning i met with my committee to discuss the latest iterations of my research questions and design. overall, i guess i'd say it went well. some suggestions were concerning, because i'm not sure i can actually carry out what they described, since my stats skills are so limited.

anyway, i'm going to summarize what they recommended....

so last night i was in the midst of posting a pretty good post to this blog (all text prior to this sentence)... unfortunately, my laptop's hard drive has spontaneously combusted, or something. i suspect the installation of Spotify as the culprit. but who knows. the guy who last added ram to that computer said that it was probably on its way out anyway since it's so old.  drat. so now i am without laptop. left w/nothing but a hand-me-down iMac. well, i'm grateful for that, but i must say that i do prefer the convenience/portability of a laptop.:( maybe there'll be some crazy "black friday"/other holiday deals coming up. kind of hard to decide to purchase a laptop when you have 0 income.

anyway... so i wanted to document/summarize what came out of my committee meeting. on a whole, i'd say it was helpful, though somewhat worrying. worrisome because i'm not sure i can deliver on what they suggested. this is the gist of what was recommended....

first things first, they want me to focus on connecting a theoretical/conceptual framework to my methods. in other words, they want me to connect "the literature" to what i'm doing. put more even more simply, i need to explain how a theory of resiliency applies to my "reframers" "conformers" coding schema. likewise, if i can do that w/CRT, i should also demonstrate how CRT informs my coding of the essays. the latter worries me more than the former. i'm not sure if i can construct a believable justification for why CRT should inform my coding scheme. Jenny also suggested that i could use CRT to frame interpretation/discussion of my findings in the case that i find that "conforming" is rewarded with admission. this is evidence of an institution/systemic mechanism (the AMCAS's disadvantaged status prompt) reinforcing racism (the disadvantaged construct applied to minorities).

but back to resiliency and reframing/conforming.... Regina said that i really need to take seriously the literature on resiliency, mostly in the medical field literature. she said that, as compared to the ed lit, there is much more on "health resiliency." what is in the ed lit can be found more in k-12 literature. she said i need to take seriously defining "resiliency" as a concept. this will be valuable in discussing how disadvantaged applicants "reframed."

Regina also brought up another question regarding reframing, and I'm not quite sure what to do with that feedback. she was asking whether i would consider an applicant to be a reframer if he/she were to discuss "racism" as a disadvantage -- i.e., what would i do if if the applicant merely cited racism as a disadvantage, but didn't necessarily put a transformative/reframed spin on it? i would probably code as a "conformer," but i think she was implying that if i did that, we'd be missing something important in the data. hmmph.

JEnny & REgina suggested that I could start by creating a table that demonstrates what reframing versus conforming mean in terms of resiliency. i like that idea.

they also seemed to have an issue with my sample size. in terms of my random sample size -- 1% = 320 essays. they questioned why i was taking a random sample. i said that 320 essays just seemed like a manageable # of essays to code. they thought that the sample would be (1) too small, and (2) potentially unrepresentative of the larger population, and thus, it would be better if it took a stratified random sample instead, to be sure that the different racial/ethnic/nationalities/gender would be proportionally the same as the larger population. not sure how i'm gonna do that. i guess that is something that SPSS can do for me? but i can always google it and/or ask Penny. anyway, they told me NOT to worry about my sample yet. i should FIRST figure out the conceptual/theoretical framework/application of resiliency.

Jenny seemed also particularly interested in applicants' feedback as it relates to "giving back." she called that "career aspirations" and Jeff thought that "altruism" was a better label. Jenny also said "socially minded." she thought this piece was particularly interesting & she really wanted to see it added as a focal piece of the research Qs. she wants me to find out whether "altruism" is related to/rewarded by admission to med school. is wanting to contribute related to conforming/reframing? So for Q3, i should add a Q3c: Is there a relationship between reframing/conforming with applicants' altruism? Likewise, she would want me to find out if there's any relationship between applicants' various background characteristics (race, in particular) and altruism. i should create a "give back" variable quantitatively and run correlations analyses.

in terms of reframing/conforming as variables, they were concerned about how i was going to set those up quantitatively. are there going to situation when there's an "other," i.e., the applicant neither reframes/conforms, or they do both? how am i going to code that? maybe i should have a 3rd category with neither/other. Jenny thought the best way to go might be to create dichotomous, Yes/No, 0 or 1, variables. then i'd have to run a series of regression analyses. but, if they ALL easily fit into either reframe/conform, then i could just run 1 regression analyses.

they also said i might want to work with 3 sets of data: (1) the total population, (2) a quant reframe/conform sample, and (3) a smaller qual sample. the Qual sample should represent what i find in the quant descriptives -- it should be proporitionate to what i find in the qual sample in terms of the different groups represented among the applicants. I can make a decision about my qual sample after i get a sense of how many reframers/conformers are in each different applicant group (coming out of the quant sample/analyses).   

BAck to theory....
for the conceptual framework, Jeff suggested looking @ the work of Deborah Carter and Carla O'Connor?? i need to focus on creating that conceptual/theoretical rationale for the coding scheme, tie it to theory, to "the literature." develop a conceptual piece that 's gonna guide my coding scheme.

For qual...
REgina said to pay attention to How applicants are describing disadvantaged, not What they describe.

so i know these notes aren't super well organized, but now they're down on "paper." it is clear that my next step is to develop a conceptual framework for the methods. that is waht i'm gonna focus on this week -- looking @ resiliency literature. i probably only need 2-4 **really** good articles. probably 1-2 would really suffice. my dissertation coach that i shouldn't look @ anything (literature wise) unless i really have intention of putting in the dissertation. i need to keep this in mind, so i don't get carried away looking thru the literature.

i have a meeting next Tues afternoon w/Jeff. i'll have that table ready for him. i'm eager to get to the data, so i've got take care of this conceptual sh*t before they let me proceed. i think it'll work out.:-) here's me being optimistic.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Mon, 10/17 - What did i do today?

So, tomorrow.... er, in about 7 hours, is my committee meeting. Blah! i've done some minimal preparation. i basically took my research Qs, edited them and made bullet points explaining how i intend to address each research Q. this is the handout i'm giving the committee. hope that suffices.

i also have my dissertation coaching session tomorrow morning.... er, in about 6 hours. i'm not *quite* ready for that b/c i was supposed to be done with my methods chapter. i can't really say that i am, but i can say that i have a pretty good draft. one that i can leave alone for awhile & move onto my findings chapter/completion of my data analysis. i think it's a sufficient map for what i need to do next. i guess there are a couple more things  i could do to make myself feel a bit more 'done.' maybe i'll get to that later this morning.

i've also revised my completion timeline, realizing i only have 5 months left to finish this crazy project. that is so nuts. 5 months seems like a LONG time right? but in dissertation world, those damn quantities of time are going to dwindle SO fast.literally slip through the fingers. so i have to make them count somehow.

i sent my timeline to my dissertation coach, and in about 6 hrs, we'll see what she says. then i'll have to sign off from the call early so i can go (reluctantly) on to my committee meeting.... hope it goes well... or at least OK. no crying for sure!!! no crying!!! must remember that!!!!

on a related & troubling note, my highest capacity flash drive seems to be crashing or the USB on this shitty laptop is crashing. i dunno, but not good.

Monday, October 17, 2011

First Post

Ok, first post.

Little Bit of Background: I'm a PhD Candidate @ the UArizona's College of Education. I started my PhD program @ an east coast university, but transferred to UA in 2006... sooo.... that means I've been in this program for 5 f*king years. Ugh. That further means, I've really gotta finish.

Current Status: I've got a proposal that I've been building. I'm nearly done w/a methods chapter and will shortly be moving onto a findings chapter -- this is THE most progress I've made in awhile. Thank God for SOME progress -- largely due to acquiring the services & sage advice of a private dissertation coach. Yup, it came to that. $130/3 sessions! It's not cheap, but I have high hopes it'll be worth it. I want OUT!!!

This Tuesday I have a meeting with my dissertation committee. I am hoping that it will go well. Well = no suggestions for ANY major changes. Well = approval of what I am currently doing & plan to do. Well = green light to proceed as is.

Subsequent posts will not provide much background at all. I'll just be jotting down thoughts on my activities/progress, as this record is really for my own purposes & motivation.