The Dissertation Journal Begins…

Ah, you poor people!  I have the joy of writing a journal for my ED8119 class (Advanced Practicum in Research), and I’ve decided to share it with all of you as my blog!  Congratulations!  (Now is the time to stop reading unless you’re really masochistic or really interested in my dissertation…)

So here goes:

The first week’s journal assignment for class is to write a short definition for each of the following terms: theory, measurement, inference, generalization, and one more research-related term of my own choosing.

Then I’m supposed to write a two to three paragraph entry on how comfortable I am with the research process and area I’d like to focus on as this course progresses.

Theory – Dictionary.com tells us that a theory is 1. a coherent group of general propositions used as principles of explanation for a class of phenomena: Einstein’s theory of relativity and 2. a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural, in contrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact.  Sounds right to me!

Measurement – After fighting through all the definitions of measurement that include “measure” (or some form of it) in them, Dictionary.com has this to say: A method of determining quantity, capacity, or dimension.  For me, I know that I will need to find some way to measure student ownership of their grades.  Have no idea what method I’m using yet…anyone have something for me?

Inference – Once again, I love on my Dictionary.com that tells me (once again, after taking the base word options away) that inference is a. the process of deriving the strict logical consequences of assumed premises and b. the process of arriving at some conclusion that, though it is not logically derivable from the assumed premises, possesses some degree of probability relative to the premises.

Generalization – And generalization, again after avoiding the bad definitions, turns out to be a. a proposition asserting something to be true either of all members of a certain class or of an indefinite part of that class and b. the process of obtaining such propositions.

Sample population – I just *had* to include this one!  I heard, about 20 times a day for three days, that there is no such thing.  You can have a sample, and you can have a population.  You cannot have a sample population.  The population is the group that you get the sample from.




Now my reflection:

I am very comfortable for searching for materials, for making inferences and generalizations…even coming up with my theory.  As to measurement – well, not so much.  That one will be hard, mostly because I have yet to find a good measurement tool.  I’m not sure if one exists for exactly what I’m looking for, but I can keep trying to find one, and worst comes to worst, maybe see if I can adapt one.

Student ownership is such an interesting concept, but measurement tools for it seem to be in scarce supply right now.  Most papers I’ve found seem to state that students do better when they take ownership of their learning, but the measurement done is that their grades improve.  How the connection is made and measured, I’m not so sure.  There is no real tool presented, and it seems to be based on an assumption rather than a true measurement.  So we’ll see what happens as this class goes on and as I get more into my dissertation process…

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