Thriving… Not Just Surviving in Your Ph.D.

Today is the start of the UNT Learning Technologies (#untLT) Doctoral Fall Writing Boot Camp (October 17-18, 2014). This program has been developed by our department to support our doctoral researchers in their dissertation progress. Currently a number of doctoral researchers are writing and working in the LT Agora with snacks, support, and relevant available resources.

DocStudents

I am looking forward to joining the “Doctoral Campaign Strategy Meeting” tonight on a panel this evening with our faculty, including Drs. Cox, Ennis-Cole, Knezek, Tyler-Wood, and J. Wircenski. (Drs. Allen and Warren will participate remotely if they are able). This Q & A session will provide some advice and give some ideas for not only how to “survive” but also thrive in doctoral research regardless of the phase.

This presentation is a remix of @drjeffallen ‘s wisdom/advice

I like to use the phrase thrive not survive, to for the doctoral process. There are a number  a number of supportive strategies and ideas to get to the PhD finish line, including:

  • Making a habit of WRITING & scheduling only #ShutUpAndWrite session
  • Social, emotional & mental support
  • Identifying champions in your department, on campus & in your discipline
  • Outlining the major professor-advisee working relationship – needs & expectations
  • Using the advice of your committee wisely
  • Organizing your research materials & literature review effectively
  • Mapping out your data collection process
  • Attending to your personal-wellness & well-being
  • Connecting to a cohort of scholars in your personal learning network
  • Giving up something, to get something to finish your dissertation
  • Understanding how you work best
  • Consulting & using the resources available
  • Focusing your efforts wisely

Want to learn more? I will be sure to post notes and advice from our panel of professors and doctoral researchers who attend. What is YOUR advice on how to THRIVE in a doctoral program and through the dissertation process? Please share!

UPDATE (post-panel):

Doctoral Strategy Panel - Group Photo

From left to right: Drs. Cox, Ennis-Cole, Knezek, Pasquini, Tyler-Wood, and Wircenski.

PhD Balance & Support: Life as a Doctoral Researcher and Higher Ed Professional

As part of my “Thanks-For-Supporting-My-PhD-Completion” and ways to motivate other doctoral researchers, Melissa and I decided to write an article for NACADA’s Academic Advising Today. This piece shared insights from our #hackPhD Panel at #nacada13 and our own hindsight of what it takes to successfully finish the degree.

PhD Survivor

We are not alone in thinking that being both a full-time professional in higher education AND full-time PhD student is a CHALLENGE:

The tensions among academic and personal roles can have a great impact on an advisor’s doctoral education. The theory of doctoral student persistence (Tinto, 1997) in particular can provide a look at how conflicting roles might impede a doctoral student’s academic progress. Tinto’s theory (1997) assumes that the primary communities for students relative to their graduate education are their peers and the faculty in their programs. Social integration within graduate education is almost synonymous with academic integration in the department. These social communities assist students with both intellectual and skill-building capacities needed to succeed in their doctoral programs, as well as networking within the greater professional community. Membership in other communities, e.g. those encompassing personal roles, can have a negative impact on graduate persistence by providing conflicting demands for time. If students are not able to manage their competing roles, they may find that they must give up on some of them.  (Read the full article here.)

I am thankful to the #AcAdv Chat community and fellow PhD friends (#sadoc & #phdchat) for the support. A number of my colleagues from these groups ALSO hold a faculty or staff position on campus, while grinding through their doctoral coursework and/or dissertation. I salute all of you who have made it, and a number of you who are still working towards the end. {You can do it! #GoScholarGo!}

At times this challenge is not easy – AT ALL. What it often comes down to is, support at the local level. At my campus, I was fortunate to have dedicated faculty advisors, solid graduate program support, an understanding/empathetic boss, a supportive and collaborative office team, and brilliant Dean to scaffold my PhD progress. Although my support network online is brilliant,  I think that it is imperative for the Staff/Faculty Supervisor of the PhD employee to consider how they can impact degree completion. Here are a few suggestions on how to get started:

  1. Ask How To Support: Sounds easy enough, but often it does not come up in 1:1 meetings. Consider asking how their degree will fit into their overall career goals, and what sort of strategies and resources would be most appropriate to reaching this objective.
  2. Identify Funding Resources: Inform students about tuition breaks, employee scholarships, and travel funding that might be optional during their doctoral study. Sure – your grad student might be savvy enough on this topic; however it does not hurt to inform them about budget allowances or potential funding sources.
  3. Encourage Professional Development: Continue to nourish and cultivate professionals who want to hack their doctoral degree, AND contribute to their own personal growth. Professional and informal affiliations often helps their progress towards degree completion.
  4. Consider Scheduling & Being Flexible (with Time): Allow for a varied staff schedule, time in office, or even opportunities to telecommute on projects. This might even include moving a lunch or break around to meet with dissertation committee members, writing groups, or graduate student seminars. Often your graduate student is very good at both self- and time management, so trust them to be effective in and out of the office.
  5. Express Value for Scholarship: Help your employee identify service, teaching and research scholarship on your campus and with your professional affiliations. Think about their research as an extension of your unit’s or institution’s vision and mission, and capitalize on their talent and skills in this area. Scholar-practitioner contributions can impact strategic goals, and compliment what you do day-to-day.

If you currently supervise a doctoral researcher who is a full-time staff member, how do you support your employee? OR vice-versa. What do you need as full-time employee AND PhD student to get you to your dissertation defense? Please share in the comments below.

References:

Johnson, M. A., & Pasquini, L. A. (2014, September). Negotiating the multiple roles of being and advisor and doctoral student. Academic Advising Today, 37(3).

Tinto, V. (1997). Toward a theory of doctoral persistence. In P. G. Altbach (Series Ed.) & M. Nerad, R. June, & D. S. Miller (Vol. Eds.), Contemporary higher education: Graduate education in the United States (pp. 322-338). New York, NY: Garland Publishing, Inc.

It’s My Graduation Day!

Today is the day my PhD degree comes to an end – it’s UNT Commencement!

Grad Regalia

Catch up: I defended my dissertation on June 12, 2014 and I am VERY grateful for all the love and support. It has been a fun four years in the doctoral program at UNT; however I am happy to say goodbye with this ceremony today. I know this event is only the beginning of what lies ahead with my teaching, research, and service scholarship:

“There is a good reason they call these ceremonies ‘commencement exercises.’  Graduation is not the end; it’s the beginning.” ~ Orrin Hatch

phd061814s

Image c/o PhD Comics

For commencement, the graduate school required a 30-word summary of my research to read out during the hooding segment of the ceremony. Could you summarize your thesis/dissertation? I dare you to try in the comments section of this post. It took me a couple tries; however my Twitter writing skills were used to condense this blurb:

Dr. Pasquini analyzed 250 higher education social media policies from 10 countries. She established a policy database, and identified 36 universal topics to best guide social media use and implementation.

For my family, friends and peers who care to tune in, I will be officially hooded and dubbed a doctor between 3-4 pm CST time TODAY (August 8, 2014). You can stream the ceremony online, if you so wish, here:  http://www.unt.edu/commencement/watch.htm

{REQUEST: For my technically savvy colleagues, let me know if you can do a screen capture  of the event – I would LOVE a quick video segment of my hooding as a keepsake. :)}

For my local friends and colleagues in Denton, TX, I hear that the libations will be served at the Mulberry Street Cantina to celebrate at 5 pm onwards today. Drop in!

#Dissertation Thanks and Acknowledgement for my PhD Journey

“Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.”

~ Etienne Wenger

My doctoral dissertation research is dedicated to all the members of my personal learning network and communities of practice, who connect, inspire, collaborate, interact, challenge, and share with me personally and professionally. I am thankful for your passion.

Here are a few slides from my final dissertation defense from Thursday, June 12, 2014. Some slides have been removed to prepare for journal publications, and I promise that more will be shared on this blog or here:  http://socialmediaguidance.wordpress.com/

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to acknowledge the support and encouragement I received during my doctoral research. I am incredibly grateful for those of you who stood by to support me along the way. Thank you for helping me during my PhD journey.

Fiachra

My husband: Fiachra Eamon Liam Moynihan – I am truly grateful for your love, support, and patience. Without you, I would not have been able to thrive in my doctoral program or balance my research with everything else. Thanks for joining me in this scholarly adventure – I could not accomplish this feat without you by my side.

Thank You Dissertation Committee

To my  doctoral dissertation committee:  Dr. Jeff Allen, Dr. Nick Evangelopoulos, Dr. Kim Nimon,  and Dr. Mark Davis.  I appreciate the support during my dissertation research, and general advice you provided about academic writing, publishing, career development, and life on the tenure track. I look forward to our continued collaboration in publishing, research, and more.

Mi Familia

My family: My parents, Michael and Coleen Pasquini, and my siblings Mark and Katie. You were the first community that encouraged me find my passion in learning. For this, I thank you.

PLN

My friends: A sincere THANK YOU to my friends near and far. I am honored to have an eclectic support network to challenge and check in on me. A heartfelt thanks goes out to all of you who provided support, inspiration, mentoring, peer pressure, and motivation along the way. Shout out to: #untLT, #AcAdv, #PhDchat, #EdTech, #HigherEd, #SAchat,  and other communities and/or hashtags we created along the way.

OEM

My colleagues: Thank you to the fantastic team I have been fortunate to work with over the years at the Office for Exploring Majors in Undergraduate Studies at UNT. Although this division no longer exists, you all will hold a special place in my heart.

Thank You!
Image c/o Flickr member Chris Piascik

My #Dissertation Defense

This Thursday two epic events kick off:

  1. The 2014 World Cup (3 pm CT)
  2. My FINAL Dissertation Defense (2:30 pm CT)

Conveniently, I found this @PhDComics cartoon (circa 2010) shared in my network:

World cup soccer and PhD

c/o PhD Comics: World Cup vs. PhD

Here is my dissertation title and abstract:

Pasquini, Laura A. Organizational Identity and Community Values: Determining Meaning in Post-Secondary Education Social Media Guideline and Policy Documents. Dissertation Abstract, Doctor of Philosophy (Applied Technology and Performance Improvement), August 2014.

With the increasing use of social media by students, researchers, administrative staff, and faculty in post-secondary education (PSE), a number of institutions have developed guideline and policy documents to set standards for use. Social media platforms and applications have the potential to increase communication channels, support learning, enhance scholarship, and encourage community engagement in higher education. As social media implementation and administration has developed in the PSE sector, there has been minimal assessment of the substance of social media guideline and policy documents (McNeil, 2012).

The first objective of this research study was to examine an accessible, online database (corpus) comprised of 24, 243 atomic social media guideline and policy text documents from 250 PSE institutions representing 10 countries to identify central attributes. To determine text meaning from topic extraction, a rotated latent semantic analysis (rLSA) method was applied (Evangelopoulos & Polyakov, 2014). The second objective of this investigation was to determine if the distribution of topics analyze in the corpus differ by PSE institution geographic location. To analyze the diverging topics, the researcher utilized an iterative consensus-building algorithm (Winson-Geideman & Evangelopoulos, 2013).

Through the maximum term frequencies, LSA determined a rotated 36-factor solution that identified common attributes and topics shared among the 24,243 social media guideline and policy atomic documents. This initial finding produced a list of 36 universal topics discussed in social media guidelines and policies across all 250 PSE institutions from 10 countries. Continually, the applied chi-squared tests, that measured expected and observed document term counts, identified distribution differences for the content related factors between US and Non-US PSE institutions.

This investigation offered a concrete analysis for unstructured text data dealing with of social media guidance. This resulted in a comprehensive list of recommendations for developing social media guidelines and policies, and a database of social media guideline and policy documents for the PSE sector and other related organizations that guide social media use and implementation.

Additionally, this research stimulated important theoretical development for how organizations socially construct a semantic structure within a community of practice (Wenger, 1998). By assessing the community of practice, comprised of PSE 250 institutions that direct social media use, a corpus of documents created unstructured data to evaluate the community. The spontaneous participation and reification process of the social media guideline and policy document database reaffirmed that a corpus-creating community of practice can instinctively form a knowledge-sharing organization that provides meaning, values, and identity. These findings should stimulate further research contributions, and provide practitioners and scholars with tools to measure, understand, and assess semantic space for artifacts developed within a community of practice in other industries, organizations, or distributed associations.

 

My doctoral dissertation committee from the University of North Texas:

Co-Major Professors:

  • Dr. Jeff M. Allen - Department of Learning Technologies, College of Information
  • Dr. Nicholas Evangelopoulos – Department of Information Technology & Decision Sciences, College of Business

Committee Member:

  • Dr. Kim Nimon – Department of Learning Technologies, College of Information

Minor Professor:

  • Dr. Mark Davis – Department of Management, College of Business

Updates to my dissertation research methods, social media guideline and policy document database, and more can be found on my dissertation website:

http://socialmediaguidance.wordpress.com/

If you are interested in attending my dissertation defense, my meeting is scheduled:

Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 2:30 pm at Discovery Park, Department of Learning Technologies (Room G150)

Side note: I really hope a certain football fan I know attends my defense. I am sorry these two events were timed so close together. :)

References

McNeill, T. (2012). ‘‘Don’t affect the share price’’: social media policy in higher education as reputation management. Research in Learning Technology, 20.

Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Winson-Geideman, K., & Evangelopoulos, N. (2013). Topics in Real Estate Research, 1973-2010: A Latent Semantic Analysis. Journal of Real Estate Literature21(1), 59-76.

Evangelopoulos, N., & Polyakov, S. (2014). Indexing with rotated latent semantic dimensions. Manuscript submitted for publication.

Preparing for the Academic Job Interview #AcJobInterview [Workshop Notes]

phd031908s

Interview via @phdcomics

Life in Academia: Preparing for the Academic Job Interview
Tenure provides you a secure job for life, but getting a tenure track job is no easy task. How do you present yourself to land a tenure track position in these difficult economic times? Toulouse Graduate School, will share critical information for landing a tenure track job. Come and learn everything you need to secure a tenure track position and a secure future. Topics covered include the tenure track job interview, the research and teaching presentation, and salary negotiation.

My NOTES from today’s workshop.

 

Defending My Dissertation Proposal

Well there you have it. I successfully defended my dissertation proposal to my faculty committee on Tuesday. My proposal represents Chapters 1, 2, & 3 of my dissertation.

This slide deck might give you some insight, but probably not enough to cover my 89-page proposal. Really, this was just a visual to talk about my research plan. From this meeting, I have some helpful notes, comments, and questions to answer before moving forward with my data analysis. After I clean a few things up, I will be sure to detail more about my these chapters, specifically the literature review and research methods.

20140225_104145

Our department also invites other researchers, including students, faculty and visiting scholars, to our dissertation proposal and final dissertation defenses. This open forum style provides other doctoral researchers with ideas and examples for their own research and defense. I have attended a few proposals (and final defenses) before presenting my own. These defenses are great learning opportunities to gain insight and ideas for the doctoral process. During this post defense meeting, I really do appreciate the SUPPORT and FEEDBACK given by my scholarly peers (near and far). Thank you all!

Although it is not the end (just one FINAL defense left), my faculty advisor told me to celebrate. Take heed of important milestones. It is important to recognize steps throughout the doctoral experience since it is a long journey. I am not finished; however my dissertation proposal lays the ground work for Chapter 4: Results and Chapter 5: Discussion, a.k.a. my contract to freedom and to finish my PhD. It’s go time.