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Goal Statment
Program of Study
Research Experience
Dissertation Plans

General Culture Reflections: EDUC 800, EDUC 805 Fall 07, and EDUC 805 Spring 08
Research Method Reflections: EDUC 811, and EDRS 812
Concentration Courses Reflections: EDEP 822, EDEP 821, EDEP 653, and EDUC 870
Research Methodology Reflections: EDUC 797
Reflections by semesters: Fall 2007, Spring 2008, and Summer 2008

Class Reflections

Fall 2008 Course Reflections

EDEP 822: Advanced Learning, Motivation, and Self-Regulation (A)

The purpose of the advanced learning, motivation, and self-regulation as stated by the course catalog is to “examine the development of self-regulatory and motivational processes as they relate to educational practice. Emphasizes how processes influence students’ self-motivation and achievement in various domains.” In this course I composed a research proposal and presented in a poster format at the end of the semester, compared motivation and self-regulated learning theoretical perspectives, a self-change project, and article critiques. This course used the book Self-regulated learning: From teaching to self-reflective practice by Schunk and Zimmerman, but was also supplement with numerous recent journal articles.    

The self-change project was fun way to use self-regulation consciously. For my self-change project I wanted to get back into running more, because I have neglect that area since starting the Ph.D. program. This project gave me the reason and motivation to make my running a priority. To monitor my progress I made a calendar of the day that I was going to run and at the gym I recorded the information of my runs that the treadmills give you at the end. For example I recorded the duration of my run, miles ran, and at what pace I ran. My hope from this project is that I would run more regularly and increase my running stats to run a 5K Turkey Trot. My goal for the Turkey Trot was to complete the race with the feeling good about the race and not feeling like I was not ready or prepared for the race. My self-change project was successful in getting me to run more consistently to be ready to run the 5K Turkey Trot, which was also a success.

The research proposal and poster presentation was very useful and practical to what would be expected at a conference presentation of your research, dissertation, or meta-analysis. For my project I researched what had been done on self-regulation with college athletes because this is an interested I have and have experienced myself. College athletes have to self-regulation in order to be successful in their academics, their sport, their job, and their friendships. A brief summary of my proposal is that I found an instrument that was composed and only tested by the person that composed. The instrument was tested with university athletes at a university. Therefore I proposed to replicate the study that was done to test the instrument in order to help validate the instrument. For specifics of my proposal see Nancy’s EDEP 822 Proposal.

An area of self-regulation that we focused on and learned a lot about is the three phase model of self-regulation by Zimmerman. His model is cyclical in nature which means you continue I the cycle until you achieve your goal and exit the model. The first phase of his model is the forethought phase which contains task-analysis, strategy planning, self-monitoring beliefs, self-efficacy, outcome expectations, task interest and value, and goal orientation. This phase is followed by the performance phase which contains self-control, self-instruction, imagery, attention focusing, task strategies, self-observation, metacognitive monitoring, and self-recording. The third and final phase of this model is the self-reflection phase which is composed of self-judgment, self-evaluation, causal attribution, self-reaction, self-satisfaction and affect, and adaptive and defensive. This helped to illustrate how complex the self-regulation process is and that it is a process that keeps going until the individual meet the outcome they set.

In conclusion this course was enlightening and a pleasure to take. If I had to take this course again I would and I probably would still learning something new about self-regulation, motivation, and learning. This course has so much to offer myself and other students.  

EDUC 800: Ways of Knowing (A)

The purpose of the ways of knowing course as stated by the course catalog is to “provide an understanding of characteristic ways of knowing in various liberal arts disciplines while examining subject matter, scope, key concepts, principles, methods, and theories. Analyzes philosophical traditions underlying educational practice and research. Required course during first spring semester of study in the program.” Throughout this semester I had to complete the readings, five journals, a film collaborative project, work with critical friends, a way of knowing paper, and participated in class discussions, these activities have helped me to understand the ways of know course. This course has impacted and broadened my thinking and multiplied the lens that I see the world of knowing through.

My initial impression of the Ways of Knowing course is that I thought it would be about how we come to know information. I thought of the way of know as being the psychology of we come to know things. I see now that I was thinking more in terms of a psychologist as in the cognitive aspect of how we know specific information and it is stored, retrieved, and recalled from the brain. The psychologist part of me comes from my undergraduate course work as a psychology major and learning all about the intricate parts and functions of the human brain.

In creating critical friends in this course it helped to get to know a few people more in-depth from the class. My critical friends each brought in something different to offer the group. One individual brought in her technology specials and her special education background while the other brought in another culture and her own special education background. I brought in my knowledge of research including APA format and the non educator aspect. These are only a few of the things my group was able to bring to the table to help each other during the course. My critical friends grow into friendships through the semester. This allowed us to talk more openly about how each of us sees things differently than the other one does.

After the first day of class I didn’t think I would end up like the course since I was not a philosophy person. To me philosophy was not my thing and therefore I wanted to have nothing to do with it, but in this class I had not choice but to become acquainted with some philosophy. The course has changed my mind about philosophy a bit but I still think and know parts are hard to chew and swallow or comprehend. But in the end I feel I have succeeded with the philosophy we read since we had all the in class discussions about what we read which make it easy for me to comprehend. This course has also opened my eyes wider to look at how I know things from numerous people’s shoes. Looking at my papers from multiple angle and to get feedback from other in order to create the best product possible because their way of know will tell me what needs clarification and elaboration. I will carry away from this class my wider perspective of knowing, my critical friends, my experiences, our class discussion, and my new found understanding for philosophy.

EDUC 805 : (A)

The purpose of the doctoral seminar as stated by the course catalog is to “cover selected topics in education. Students, faculty members, and scholars discuss current research interests and ideas.” Through this seminar we heard numerous professors here at George Mason University come and speak about how they got to were they currently are and about their current research. This course exposed students to the professors in the Education department and how they got to were they are now and what research they are currently working on. Below is my reflection for the doctoral seminar that I completed for the midterm.

In seeing and thinking about the prompt for this paper, if I knew I could not fail I would… this is hard sentence for me finish, since I tend not to see things as pass or fail but as what I have gained.

I think Dr. Bemak would possibly agree with me because if at risk student saw they were always failing they would not bother doing anything because what would be the point since they would fail, which would ultimately lead to them dropping out of school. These failing students do need more resources to help turn things around especially their thinking which I would recommend attribution training. I would hope the attribution train would teach the students their fail is in their control and they have the ability to change this by doing homework, studying, asking for help, paying attention in class, and taking notes, just to name a few things they do have control over.

Dr. Barcher would say the only way you could fail at a grant is not summiting your proposal to get the grant. But even if you summit your proposal for the grant doesn’t mean you are going to get the grant because the grant competition is highly competitive. Each grant writing proposal is a learning experience and you’ll be better at marketing your big idea in the first paragraph and eventually one will successfully earn you a grant.

In my finial thought about this prompt failing doesn’t fit in the Ph.D. program because we are all here to learn and expanding our knowledge we’re succeeding. I feel our discussion groups helped and expanded the learning experience because it allows us to relate to the speaker and one another even though we all have very different interests and focuses. So, I believe failing is all in the individual’s perspective and instead of focusing on the negative (i.e. failing); I try to look at what was gained out of the experience.  

EDUC 870: Education Policy: Process/Context/Politics (B+)

The purpose of this education policy course as stated by the course catalog is to “examines public policy decision-making in education at local, state, and national levels, and its impact on education institutions, students, and public. Focuses on government entities’ authority over education decision-making, and resolution of competing policy arguments in political arena (Course Catalog, 2008).” Class assignments show the complexity and scope of education policy, through readings from both books (Kozel, 1991; What Johnny shouldn’t read) and news articles, attending a policy event, examine court cases and decisions, using bureau and census data to plan for a new school, learn about education governances, and examine the candidates positions and elections issues.

I took this course with the belief that policy dictates education decisions, like determining the direction educational research goes. This course opened my eyes to how much falls under educational policy, how complex it all is, and how to think abstractly to fix issues at the local, state, and federal levels. Before this course I didn’t know anything about policy and from this course I learned so much, from the governances like SCHEV to how to think and plan for the future from census data. Every class we did an “in the news” which every student brought a current article from within the last week to analysis of the policy implication’s of the article.  

A few assignments still stick out in this course for me. The first assignment for this course was to read Kozel’s (1991) book Savage inequalities children in America’s schools and then to describe in broad policy terms the problems in the book and suggest one or more policy option to address the problems, level of implementation, and other implications of your proposed fix. Another assignment that sticks out is we had six years to set up a new K-12 school and I had to tell where it should be, why, what will the demographic profile of the students be, what should the focus or foci of the high school curriculum, and what kind of teachers will you need and will they be available. These assignments had both a concrete and abstract aspect to them. The abstract thinking required creativity to develop or fix the issues in the policy arena.

In closing I am really happy I took this course even though I didn’t choose this area for my secondary concentration. I had originally thought about policy as a secondary concentration option. Yet, I still feel that everyone in education should know the basics about policy because this area has effects on all of us, has implications on all of us, and we all have to comply with these policies.  

             Spring 2008 Course Reflections

EDUC 805: Doctoral Seminar (A)

The purpose of the doctoral seminar as stated by the course catalog is to “cover selected topics in education. Students, faculty members, and scholars discuss current research interests and ideas.” Through this seminar we heard numerous professors here at George Mason University come and speak about how they got to were they currently are and about their current research. This semester was identical to last semester except that different professor can and spoke to the class. This semester we had the opportunity to hear from: Dr. Clark, Dr. Earley, Dr. Haley, Dr. Kayler, Dr. Taboada, Dr. Isenberg, Dr. Shaklee, Dr. Behrmann, Dr. White, Dr. Fox, and Dr. Kitsantas. Both for the midterm and final we had to compose one page reflection on the course. You’ll find one of my reflections below.

            I notice that a number of the professors spoke about motivation and offered advice about completing your dissertation. Professors also spoke about motivation, in reference to motivating students, in some way either external motivation was mention in reference to playing video games or internal motivation in reference to learning for the sake of learning.

            Professors offered their insight about dissertation topics and what they recommend students to do. Dr. Peters talked about finding your interests and connecting them or find reoccurring themes you focus on throughout your program for your dissertation topic. She recommended this because this is what you are interested in, focused on, what you already know, and that’s why you should focus on that topic. She also recommended reading up on the research in the area and finding the gaps in the literature which goes back to Dr. Mastropieri who spoke about replicate and extend to existing research.

            Also a reoccurring theme I notice is professors talking about motivation. Maybe I notice this theme more so than other people would, since my area of concentration is Educational Psychology which is an interest I have along with research. The first professor, Dr. Clark, talked about his work trying to create video games that kids are motivated to play. Through play the video game kids would learn the educational information contained on the video game like vetch that created v.smile which teaches letters, numbers, colors, reading, math, and science concepts. Dr. Haley’s research focuses on a portion of motivation, but I can’t currently find the specific area she focuses on.  Even Dr. Taboada’s research on ESOL students looks at these students motivation levels that used the different reading strategies. Motivation research is very diverse as it flow’s into all subject area, focuses, and numerous research areas.

EDEP 653: Culture and Intelligence (A)

The purpose of the culture and intelligence course as stated by the course catalog is to “explore different theoretical perspectives on intelligence as they relate to individual and cultural differences. Examines issues related to heritability and measures of intelligence, and intelligence in the cultural context.” This course directly explores social and cultural differences in individual beliefs about the development of intelligence, what is intelligence, what is valued as intelligence, and what theories are believe about intelligence. In this course we also explored what we believe happiness and creativity is along with intelligence is.

We learned what other countries/cultures believe to be intelligence, what theories about intelligence they believe, and what they value as intelligence. I really find this area fascinating to learn about. We examined the United States, Soviet or Russian, Turkish, Indian, Nordic, Japanese, French and French-speaking countries, Chinese, German and German-speaking countries, Zimbabwean, and Latin perspectives on intelligences. Then our project had us look at the Anglo-American perspective on intelligence and examine how practices in difference countries/cultures influenced the Anglo-American perspective of intelligence. I found this to be like research were an individual is influenced and impacted by past research, and interactions with other countries, and migration of individuals. (http://www.indiana.edu/~intell/intelmap.pdf)

EDEP 821: Sociocultural Processes in Learning, Instruction, and Motivation (B)

The purpose of the course sociocultural processes in learning, instruction, and motivation as stated by the course catalog is to “examine processes by which social, cultural, and linguistic variables influence human behavior. Focuses on differences within and between cultural groups related to student’s learning and achievement in educational settings.” This course illustrates the complexity of individuals and what they bring with them into the educational arena. Similar to Bronfenbrenner’s model shows all the influences that play in one student’s life (picture from Bronfenbrenner's model.jpg

Bronfenbrenner Lecture notes http://www3.uakron.edu/schulze/610/lec_bronf.htm).

            This course showed the complexity of every classroom in America. Each child brings with them their ethnicity, gender, SES, family structure, values, culture, morals, and experiences just to name a few things. These children compose classrooms with their own unique classroom environments, that collectively compose schools and creates the school environment, and yet both of these environments are influenced by the child’s families, community environment, and any other environment that the child is apart of.

            These dynamics effect what I am doing with the research I am doing for the grant with Dr. Mastropieri

EDRS 812: Qualitative Methods in Educational Research (B-)

The purpose of this qualitative methods class in educational research as stated by the course catalog is to provide “teaches how to apply qualitative data collection and analysis procedures in educational research, including ethnographic and other field-based methods, and unobtrusive measures. Emphases vary depending on student interests and needs.” During the semester we read four different books about qualitative research describing different characteristics, techniques, and analysis to conduct such research. We further learned about the methodology behind qualitative research in order to evaluate it, reflect on it, and produce it with quality.  Everyone did this through individual small scale qualitative project during the semester. From prior course work in my masters and undergraduate programs I know going into the course how time consuming, flexible, and changing nature of qualitative research. Also, from prior experience I was not looking forward to taking this course, so I decide to take it early and get it over with.

For this project I had to conduct a small scale qualitative study on a topic of my choice in this we had to complete numerous memos, HRSB forms, at least three hours of interview or observations to collect data, write up the qualitative project, and reflect on the whole process. I was told I was not a qualitative person, whom I can agree with, but I do see the relevance and importance of qualitative research. Through my educational psychology background the research tends to be quantitative in nature, but may have qualitative aspects to them. This is were I can see myself utilizing the qualitative methodology in relation to quantitative studies to explain the findings better, also known as mixed methods.          

Summer 2008 Course Reflections

EDRS 811: Quantitative Methods in Educational Research (A)

The purpose of the quantitative methods in education course is to provide “emphasize advanced methods of conducting research using quantitative methods of data collection, and analysis appropriate for research in education. Includes design of experimental and quasi-experimental research studies, and methods of analysis appropriate to these studies, including analyzing variance and multiple linear regressions.”

EDRS 811 is very similar to the EDRS 620 course I took for my masters program in educational psychology at George Mason University. This course is suppose to expose all students to quantitative methods used in education. My first exposed to these methods was in my undergraduate degree in psychology were we memorized the statistic formula’s, computed problems using the formula, and further we had to interpret the answer and what it meant. Both EDRS 620 and EDRS 811 teach the same thing as my undergraduate course on statistics, but these courses had us doing the same thing using a statistical software package called SPSS. Here the computer does all the calculation for you, but it is left up to the user to interpret the result of the statistical test. Also to use SPSS the user (i.e., myself) had to learn were to find the statistical test to run the appropriate analysis.

More specifically in EDRS 811 summer 2008 course I reviewed statistical procedures from my previous statistics courses. The review went from descriptive statistics to ANOVA’s and multiple regressions. I was hoping that this course would go beyond my scope of statistics in order for me to grow as a researcher in statistics. I pasted this course with an A, but felt if I had put effort into this course I could of easily walked out with an A+. On the exam I missed what I would say were easy questions due to simple mistakes on my part. In closing I really enjoy quantitative methods, but want to grow in this area and learning more. I am looking forward to taking advanced statistics in the spring of 2009, but do not know if this course reviewed enough for me to be ready for advance statistics.

EDUC 797: Structural Equation Modeling which is an Advanced Topic in Education (A)

            Structural equation modeling (SEM) I know very little about going into this course. My previous exposure to SEM has only been reading research studies that have used SEM for their analyses In the few studies that I had read that used SEM I did not understand: how to do, understand what they did or what they found, or interpret the study’s results. This left me frustrated as a researcher not being able to truly understanding the research that I was reading. Therefore when a course on SEM was being offered I had to take it.

            The beginning of this course started with linear regressions and multiple regressions in dealing with path analysis. If this is what SEM was I know I could do this! Later we were told that doing the path analysis was for our conceptual understanding of SEM. There were days the Greek went right over my head and I though, “Oh boy hopefully all this will make sense soon!” I literally had to learn more of the Greek alphabet and symbols to keep up, such as beta, sigma, lambda, eta, zeta, tau, alpha, gamma, and nu.

            The big overall objectives I learned in this course were to do an exploratory factor analysis/ confirmatory factor analysis, parallel analysis, test for invariance, compute effect sizes, and structure equation model analysis, these concepts analyses were done using Mplus with a little SPSS. To further explain what was learned to test for invariance in a model using Mplus: testing initial model (model 0), then model 1 for invariance of regression coefficients or factor loadings nested within model 0, followed by model 2 that imposes restrictions on model 1 therefore model 2 is nested within model 1 and if significant the assumption of equal intercepts and slopes are invariant across the two groups being tested. To accomplish above tasks the program Mplus had to be learned to know and understand the codes that were needed in order to tell the computer what to do in order to run the above analyses.

            Everything from this class really came together towards the end of the course. Here all the puzzle pieces started to fit together for me and form a whole picture for me. The project for this course was vital piece of the puzzle because without this I would not have seen nor understood the big picture of SEM and how it works. In conclusion this course has a step learning curve and I would have to say, “Wow, my classmates and I learn a whole lot in five weeks!” See project to see first hand what I learn and did in my courses in Summer 2008 .