A PhD Muses on Why the Doctoral Process Seems Mysterious
Notes from Dr. Elizabeth – followed by notes from me in red about how DoctoralNet has addressed these issues.
“As for why the doctoral process is so mysterious, I do have a few hypotheses, but they are not in any particular order:”
- The term “dissertation or thesis” is foreign, or vague to them. They are not sure what it means… Leading us to start Milestone 1.1 with a series of exercises to help the new student figure out the journey on which they have embarked.
- If they are sure what a dissertation is, they are positive they have to have many questions to answer instead of just one single problem they are looking at. This would be the section on research problem – helping students sort through to what can be measured/answered. My dissertation simply asked “why are math students failing”, and I answered it with an array of possibilities. Most students felt/thought/expressed that the dissertation must have multiple questions answered with single answers…
- They think they must come up with a profound question instead of looking at the hypothesis as a normal question with profound implications. I love this one – don’t we all have problems or questions in our lives, that if we shine a light on them and move them forward would in fact help LOTS of people?
- The data answers the question, we just document it. That can seem scary – so the automations© on questions/population & sample, research problem all help a student figure out how to set up a design where the data will, in fact, answer the question.
- Working with “data” terrifies people. They are unaware of programs that are free and out there. They are unfamiliar with how they can use math charts/tables/figures to express simple data. Or they don’t realize that there are retired profs, like our coaches, who would be glad to spend a few hours with them until they are comfortable. I can remember at one time telling my cohort that fractions/percentages work best as circle graphs, categorical data is best displayed as bar graphs, and line graphs are best for showing data over time. I know I had an advantage as a math teacher, but it relieved many members of my cohort.
Saturday morning works for me. I’ll be thinking of ways to reach doctoral students. How feasible is it to contact universitiy deans? Have you considered publishing a book on “quick and easy dissertations”? Or publishing articles on your results, but leaving out pertinant information so they seek your help. LOL this shows this note was written years ago – Elizabeth was one of the doctoral students who helped us design the way DoctoralNet works. NEED A BOOK LIKE THE ONE SHE MENTIONS? Amazon has it HERE.