Posts Tagged ‘education’

It’s done!

Not only the literature review, but the entire paper. That explains why I didn’t have time to post an update on the blog.

In case you missed it, here’s part 1 – my process for working on a literature review.

I left off with an outline. So, what happened next?

After reading a few more articles, I felt that the outline didn’t make any sense whatsoever, and that I had no idea how to go about this. Stress plummeted to very unpleasant levels. When that happens, I know what it means: It’s time to start writing.

So I started writing. I started with just the first paragraph, and that lead me to the second. After that, I re-evaluated my outline. I looked at all the articles, sorted them into piles, and saw that my initial outline plan actually made sense.

This is what my lit review looks like

So, I started attacking the literature review section by section – aka pile by pile. As soon as I was done with a pile of articles, I put it aside. I kept writing, and writing, because at that point I was on a roll  – I knew what I wanted to do, and couldn’t wait to get it done. So I actually drafted the entire literature review in one sitting (maybe 5 hours or so). As the need occurred, I found more references to fill in the occasional gap.

When I write, I work with Word and Endnote – it is a reference management software that works with Word to insert citations in text and in the list of references. So I had to make sure that each reference was entered correctly in Endnote. I use Zotero to collect references, then export them into Endnote, and clean them up in Endnote. Zotero references often need a lot of cleanup – for example, each word in an article’s title is capitalized, and that’s not correct in APA style, so I need to go back and lower case each word manually, and add whatever information is missing. I hear Zotero also has a plugin for Word, but I am pretty happy with Endnote. Have you used it? What do you think about it?

I cannot share the end result publicly, but if you’d like to see the literature review, let me know and I’ll post it on Blackboard.

I am spending Spring break working on a paper, specifically, the literature review section. So I thought I’d document my process here, in case it may help you. Maybe we can turn this blog post into an ad-hoc literature review support group.

(Speaking of support groups, I tried creating one for College of Technology graduate students. Nothing much has happened yet, but if you’re interested, join the group on Facebook. I’m planning to try again to meet over the summer.)

Back to the literature review. It sounds simple. Here are the steps, in 140 characters or fewer (fewer, not less):

Yesterday, I worked on reading articles that an undergraduate research intern had helped me collect.

As I was reading, I experienced the following:

  • elation and satisfaction at learning new things
  • panic that there’s so much more to read than I have time before the deadline (and by deadline, I mean before I die)
  • confusion about how to organize the articles into literature review sections
  • occasional tiredness and boredom, coupled with restlessness. Even though I was tired, I couldn’t stop reading, I had to pick up article after article.
  • the thought that I can’t do this before deadline, I should just give up and try a later deadline
  • the thought that I’ve done this before, and just like I miraculously met deadlines before, I will meet the deadline this time, too.

You may experience all of the above, except, maybe, the last one – if you do not have sufficient experience. What I am trying to say is that unpleasant feelings, panic, and doubts are part of the process. They don’t mean much. Just like a headache goes away, they, too, will go away. So notice the unpleasantness, label it as normal, and keep going. I wish I’d known earlier on that they are a normal part of the process.

The most difficult for me was the confusion, the fact that I could not see a structure or a way to organize articles into sections. That’s when I knew I need to take a break (go to sleep) and give my brain time to process all the new information. When I woke up this morning, I had a structure in mind, an I could hear the words for the first paragraph (which is the hardest for me to write).

Pooky helping with a literature review. Note the piles of articles in the background. Each pile became a lit review section.

This is where I am right now. My paper is about using social media in higher education. So, I’m thinking that the outline of the literature review will go something like this:

  1. Several people argue that Web 2.0 is so much better than sliced bread (cite here all of these arguments). If it’s so wonderful, how come we don’t all use Web 2.0 in our teaching? And more importantly, what evidence do we have that Web 2.0 is as really as great as these arguments claim? (This is my transition to the section about empirical studies.)
  2. Empirical studies have looked at social media tools individually. There are studies about microblogging in education and at conferences, which show that… (summarize results here). There are studies about using blogs in education which show that… (summarize results here). There are studies about wikis… There are studies about some other random tools… However, there aren’t studies that look at an integral social media solution. What happens when you combine several of these tools in education? That’s the need we are trying to address with our study.
  3. Theoretical framework: Learning outcomes, Self-determination theory, Social capital (explain all these theories and how they apply to our problem).
  4. Study goal and research questions.
  5. THAT’S IT. That’s the end of my literature review.

I am now thinking that there’s a bunch of statistics and studies about how students use the Internet and social media, and they seem to belong somewhere in the literature review, but I am not sure where. Help me out: Where do you think I should plug them in, in this structure? Or should I leave them out?

How’s your process going? What feelings are you experiencing? What are you discovering that works well for you?


I wrote this post over on PR Connections about the most valuable thing I learned in grad school. I’m cross-posting it below for you. I ended that post with the question: What’s the most valuable thing you learned in grad school? I’d like to modify that question for you, because I’m really interested in your perspective:

  • what’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned in grad school so far?
  • what specifically has helped you learn how to read, think, learn? Can you give me some examples of what works for you?
The most valuable thing I learned in grad school

All the knowledge you could possibly want is out there. You’re a smart person. You can teach yourself anything you want. Then, why go to grad school?

What can grad school do for you that you can’t do for yourself?

In other words, why do you need a teacher?

I remember a time when I looked at an academic research paper, understood almost every word on the page, yet the meaning of the article as a whole was a mystery to me. Then a teacher came along, asked some good questions, and all of a sudden, the meaning of the reading appeared, as if a secret code had been deciphered.

The most valuable thing I learned in grad school has nothing to do with content. I learned how to read. How to think. I learned how to learn.

It’s this process of thinking, inquiring, and understanding that I hope to teach to my students. Beyond content, this is the skill that changes who you are forever. It changes how you see the world.

I asked my husband what’s the most valuable thing he learned in grad school. His answer was:

To know how to look for something when I’m not sure, and to know when I found it.

What’s the most valuable thing you learned in grad school?

It’s been a long, hard day. At this point, am thankful that it’s almost over, just a bit more data analysis, and I can make my date with Jon Stewart.

And then, I check Twitter and see this:

… my husband asks me why I’m smiling ear to ear. I love seeing this happen. This is how the process works: You play around with ideas in blog posts, this makes you think of other ideas, which may lead to interesting new research topics! Yes, that’s one of the main reasons why I ask students to blog. I also love that, with social media, I can be a witness to this process.

But then, there’s more…

Glad to know a tool I recommended is useful, and to see that students are actively collecting sources and doing research.  Strike 2!

I finally head over to read the student’s blog post to see what she was so enthusiastic about and… the post starts by explaining how she was intrigued by a class concept and took it upon herself to look into it further. The drive and curiosity to investigate more… that’s what makes a graduate student. And that’s strike 3, my day could not get better.

Except for…

Now, I’m changing the blog’s title, and getting off Twitter, because even too much of a good thing can be too much. 🙂

This post happens to be about the same student, who happens to be on a roll tonight. But it’s not about the person. It’s about the process, and what you can learn from this entire story:

  1. Follow the process, play with ideas, blog. See what happens.
  2. Do give Zotero a try, and keep collecting references about your area of interest.
  3. Be curious, and follow your curiosity. Don’t rely on teachers to teach you. We make you aware of things. It’s up to you to investigate further.

With gratitude to my students,

Dr. V

What does blogging teach?

Posted: November 8, 2008 in Food for thought
Tags: , ,

I’ll be honest with you, I used to think that making students blog for a grade is a bad idea. I mean, making them put themselves out there?!

But then I realized that blogging is a necessity – and there’s no other way to learn it. Just like I teach news releases, I have to teach blogging. Just like students have to write news releases, they need to blog, too.

Some students might find out that they hate news releases. Others might find out they hate blogging. I say, it’s better to find out earlier rather than later, so they can adjust their career paths and expectations.

The semester’s coming to an end, and it all of a sudden dawned on me that blogging has taught my students some very important lessons, which will be useful even if they don’t choose to go into PR:

  • articulating thoughts and opinions
  • taking responsibility for thoughts and opinions by making them public
  • attributing ideas through linking
  • networking online, building relationships with like-minded people through commenting & linking

If you have tried blogging, can you tell me in the comments:

What has blogging taught you?

As we head into advising and registration for Spring 2009, I promised my Clemson students I would put together a list of courses useful for those interested in public relations.

This list will evolve as I discover courses,

so please feel free to suggest additional ones in the comments section.

As far as COMM courses go, the 3 PR courses are:

  • COMM 355 Principles of Public Relations – covers basic principles & theories
  • COMM 356 Stakeholder Communication – covers techniques for communicating with various stakeholder groups
  • COMM 456 Strategic Communication for Social Change – covers strategic campaigns

Many other courses in COMM are relevant and useful to PR, but since your academic advisors can help you with those, I won’t list them here, except to urge you to learn your research methods! Surveys, statistics, focus groups, interviews, case studies, ethnographic observation and rhetorical criticism (so you know how to critique outputs of PR) are VERY useful. In our department, the methods courses are COMM 310, 311, and 306.

I’ll group other useful courses by topic:

journalism writing, feature writing, business writing, technical writing, editing:

The following ENGL courses look interesting: ENGL 231, 265, 304, 314, 316, 332, 333, 334, 335

marketing, advertising, graphic design & graphic communication courses

MKTG 301, 302, 423, 426, 427, 429, 434, 443

AP EC 351

courses to help you understand how business works, how managers think.

MGT 201, 400, 411*, 415, 423

any courses that help you understand globalization, international and intercultural issues in business, culture and/or society

any courses that help you understand the collective mindsets (cultures) of one ore more societies, as influenced by art, history, media, popular culture, etc. These can be courses in Art History, History, Women’s Studies, Communication Studies, etc.

any courses that help you understand attitude change, decision making, and social pressure (social psychology)

PSYCH 201, 320, 330*, 333, 352, 355, 368, 369, 370, 454, 459, 462, 482

SOC 201, 350, 351

[update Oct. 29] If you’re going to take LS (Leisure Skills) classes, consider golf. Why? Because if you want to be in the “boys’ club,” hang out with top executives and increase your opportunities to network with them… you should be able to play golf with them! No, this is not a joke…