Wink-Wink Mates: Speaking the Unspeakable in the Scuttlebutt

Just in time for an April Fool’s joke,  I’ve been elected as VP Academic for AUGSA, a graduate students’ union.  I wanted to be elected to student government so as to influence development in the scuttlebutt.

Somehow departments of graduate education fail to convey information to their inmates about how good is good enough; the quality and standards expected from student work.  Grades are no indicator.  So how do students learn these standards?  In part, from each other, in the student sub-culture, aka the scuttlebutt.

Ahoy, mateys. Rumor has it that Dr. Hook…

A scuttlebutt held the drinking water aboard ships of yore.  While gathered ’round the scuttlebutt, mariners talked, communicated even.   Scuttlebutt became a conduit in which to decipher, discern and deliver the wishes of the master.  Scuttlebutt exists in the sub-culture of the underling and the wanna-be, aka doctoral student too, and delivers invaluable knowledge.

Sailors and doctoral students learn to perform to the unspeakable nuances of their job through scuttlebutt.  I wonder what would happen if doctoral supervisors became more transparent about how good is good enough.  Would dissertations get shorter?

Ironically,  doctoral education which notoriously demands the ‘piling higher and deeper’ of excessive elaboration, may do so because the standards and quality of doctoral work elude pat definition, maybe are unspeakable.  It’s like the supreme court definition of pornography, can’t define it, save you recognize it when you see it

Little bits of recognizable stuff comes to students in part from the scuttlebutt.  In my position as VP Academic, I can push back for more transparency and develop a more reliable scuttlebutt.  A Fool’s Game? Happy April’s Fools Day .

I Will Walk the Talk

Hello Fellow Graduate Students,

keep-calm-and-vote-for-me-4I need your vote for Vice-President, Academic because I want to match your bold choice to pursue a graduate degree online to academic policies.  My doctoral research proposal in the Ed. D. program will address questions of complacency/ignorance regarding assessment amongst faculty, the glacial speed of change, and sclerosis to reform of graduate education.  My action research will promote dialogue; ignite interest in graduate education reform and suggest positive change.

Specifically, I will advocate to:

Make assessment more transparent.  As a doctoral student whose agenda is reform of graduate school education, I will be able to draw on research on the causes and consequences of departure from graduate school and ask the university to accept its share of responsibility.  In my research I’ve read heartbreaking stories of earnest, hard-working students suffering rejection and non-completion after persisting for the better part of a decade in their work.  I want to change the narrative.  These stories are much too common.

End the gate-keeper mentality.   The big prize of doctoral work, the doctoral degree, seems too much like a game of keep-away, intellectual bullying or Alice in Wonderland.  Down the rabbit hole, the target is forever changing and the oral exam committee wants to expose you or block your way out.   I want co-operation.enhanced

Form an association to reform educational practices in graduate school.  Athabasca University graduate students are already a select group in that we have taken the risk to pursue our educations via an unproved medium, online learning.  We need the approaches, policies and practices to catch up to, align to and coalesce around more efficient, more reliable and more forthright practices in graduate education.

Vote for me, please for Vice-President, Academic.  Not only will you be advancing my action research agenda to agitate for reform to doctoral education, but your vote for me may even trickle down to a change you experience in your studies. Please contact me on Facebook, Twitter, or by email, if you have any questions.  Thank-you.

Problem Finding

How did you find the problem that would become the focus of your doctoral research?

I’ve been through 50 ways to leave your lover…

So far in the cross-hairs, I’ve entertained these candidates:crosshairs

Knowledge Surveys

Blogs & Personal Learning Networks

cMOOCs & Connectivism

Conference Posters as OERS

Using Social Media to Protect Vulnerable Women: To Catch a Killer

A Virtual Reality Environment to support the Cree Language

History of Leadership in Distance Education

Kenanow & Research Ceremonies: Learning in the 21st Century Embraces First Nations’ Epistemology

Now I thought I’d centered on relationships between proactive assessment practices  in doctoral education and completion rates or persistence, save I want to jump into action research to rage against the glacial pace of change in doctoral education.

So it looks like I want to get into reform of doctoral education.

I don’t know if I’ve found my topic..I gotta see what’s involved in action research…Whatever topic I do, I’ve gotta use social media or ed tech, at some point…it’s not a criteria of the program, but I won’t do a project without it.

Round and round I go…

So how did you find THE one?  What were your considerations?  Did you have some criteria  it had to meet?  How much did you deliberate?  If you abandoned a project, why did you do so?

Oh no…maybe I’ve I’ve found my topic.

Complexity in Assessment

Why are so few people challenging the idea that breaking complex ideas and performances into their (alleged) component parts, then teaching the parts, won’t yield students who can deal with complexity? If a (make believe) music standard called for students to be able to play a set of piano pieces well with regard to rhythm, accuracy, volume, and phrasing, we would simply break that down. Can the student play with the appropriate rhythm? Check. Can she hit the notes accurately? Check. Can she play with all of the key elements simultaneously, to produce beautiful music for an audience? Oh– the learning objectives never ask anyone to put those pieces together in rich performances.  Denise Wilbur comment on Grant Wiggins’ blog January 14, 2013

Escher’s hand drawing itself captures some of the problems with assessment that fails to factor in the big picture.  Assessment that is based on checklists of component elements fails to account for the x factor, the genius.  Where on earth is that in a checklist.  Escher’s drawing, which hits the high points of fidelity to high standards of realistic representation, totally rexplodes the medium with its questions of self-observation.

hand draws itself

If a teacher had to grade this, what mark would it get?  What would be the best way to grade it?