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Posts tagged ‘dissertation’

on coming back from outer space (or what happens during dissertation radio silence)

January 7, 2018

lisa hammershaimb

And just like that…over 4 months have passed since the last entry (ironically the entry that was going to get me “back to blogging” in a rhythm that would allow me to record how the dissertation was unfolding as it was unfolding.) When I was going through coursework I was intentionally cobbling together a personal learning network on social media of others who were a bit ahead of me in the process so that I could look to and learn from them as they navigated the very uncharted waters of what one actually does when one enters the intensive research/writing phase of a dissertation. It seemed like what happened almost universally was radio silence—the once continuous stream of communication and information on social media disappeared.

And then after a time they’d come back telling the world they’d survived and all the champagne emojis would flow as we’d celebrate their accomplishment and the new consonants that could now be in front of their name. Though it was fun to see and celebrate, I always kind of wondered just what happened during their silence. Was this more secret initiation that you couldn’t talk about to the non-doctoral? Was there some kind of vow involved that conscripted you to forsake social media updates?

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this matters…

January 14, 2015

lisa hammershaimb

Over break I became a reading machine, hopeful that if I ingested enough of other people’s brilliance I’d finally be able to give legs to all the amorphous thesis ideas that have been floating around my head this fall. Turns out, there aren’t quite legs to but I have sent out enough tentative shoots and connections that I’m fairly confident at some point in the near future I’ll have enough courage to write an email to my adviser saying summarizing my thoughts and seeing how they check out by someone with a larger vantage point. (By “near future” I most likely mean probably that I’ll write my ideas in my 2015 Christmas card as every time I think I have reached something that feels right a new tweet appears, I serendipitously encounter a new article, or I lose a few weeks of my life to whatever the flavor of the day work crises happens to be afoot. : )

But anyways, over break I did a lot of investigating on arts-based research, remixed dissertations, and generally people who were doing things that were a little fringe and a lot awesome. I really really want to follow in this pathway with what I do and the only thing stopping me (well, apart from the whole topic thing) is that deep down, I kind of love writing. Like really love it and think in some perverse way spending a long time writing something massive would be terrible and magnificent at the same time. So, I want to follow the arts-based pathway but there’s a pretty solid chance I’ll still be writing lots but hopefully can integrate some other stuff in as well.

One person I found particularly interesting in this journey was Nick Sousanis. Nick is probably the first person ever to do his total dissertation in comic format and….it. is. amazing. His premise is that the world of academia/education has become very flat because it’s so focused on the written word and so divorced from the visual/embodied experience of being a human. His thesis is a look at visual literacy and even more a call to re-evaluate people as actual people whose perceptions, senses, etc require a holistic approach rather than the continued deification of word only. It’s provocative and I think very timely as with so much technology now and people “becoming their own designers” and images being seen worldwide, those who know how to use words are powerful but true power lies in the cohesive and considered pairing of words and images. Much like graphic design….hahaaa….not that I’m biased or anything.

Nick’s dissertation is being published by Harvard University Press in the spring which is crazy amazing. I think his work has opened and will continue to open so many new doors to people with excellent ideas but who may have formerly been outside of academia or at most on its fringe. I know for me I’m ready to write him into my acknowledgements page because, though I’ve not yet read his book, from what I’ve seen its a total discipline-bending piece, equally academic treatise/coffee table marvel/hipster philosophical book club. Best of all it ennobles comics and shows that yes indeed, this is important work.

So…my new goal is to figure out how I can craft a unique discipline-bending flow of my own into my work. I already kind of want to appropriate his “unflattening” idea into my own piece and since we’re now Twitter pals I’m sure he will be cool with it. Now to find just what will populate this discipline-bending work of genius……

DAY 1: Assignment 4 Begins…

March 24, 2014

lisa hammershaimb

And, proposal writing is put on hold for a little bit while the final monster to conquer, Assignment 4, takes precedence. I’ll admit I wasn’t all that worried about Assignment 4 until after meeting with the cohort last night. I think the past month+ has been so challenging+stretching in so many professional/work/personal ways that all I could conceptualize was what I needed to do in the next day or two. The end of April felt like forever away and Assignment 4….yeah, pretty much a 6000-9000 word mirage because I was drowning in the dailies.

But after meeting with the cohort, hearing them ask questions I didn’t even fully comprehend, and looking at the calendar and realizing the sobering fact that April begins like…next week I realized the monster is actually way closer than it appears in the mirror.

So, I know you’re probably wondering…just what is Assignment 4? Glad you asked! Basically it’s called “Planning Research Strategies” and is meant to mimic the “methods” section of my real dissertation. (AHHH!!! real dissertation!!!….sorry, just needed a textual freak out moment because honestly I felt way closer to a real dissertation about a year ago before I knew all I didn’t know…if you know what I mean.)

But anyways, the idea is that we’ve already got brilliance in the research questions, paradigms, inquiries, etc. and now it’s just time to hammer out the research methods, then examine the prospective data collection and analysis strategies (of course, keeping consistent with preciously established theoretical/philosophical orientations and practical research methods). Cake, right? Hahaa….if only.


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DAY 1: a dissertation…

February 10, 2014

lisa hammershaimb

What follows is some very timely wisdom from my most esteemed supervisor, Dr. Siemens, following yet another bout of dissertation ideas I sent off to him. “A dissertation is not ‘how to bake’ it is more like ‘how to use mandarin oranges in making small cupcakes for July 4th celebrations”. Best phrase ever…right up there with the idea of chipping away ice chunks to cool your drink not demolishing an entire cube. Now comes heeding this advice when all I really want to do is make an animated piece of typography out of it…or maybe eat a small cupcake. Focus Lisa. Focus.


Hi Lisa –

the biggest challenge you’ll face with your dissertation is scope. What you list in your four points is the equivalent of several dissertations :). My advice, and one that you will hear again and again, is to focus, focus, focus (oh, and focus). What ONE main idea is provocative and important enough for you to spend the next several years exploring? Once you have that clear, you can build sub questions around it. But it really does need to be precise. A dissertation is not “how to bake” it is more like “how to use mandarin oranges in making small cupcakes for July 4th celebrations”. precise. focused. You are not surveying a field – you are going deeply in an area where no one has gone before. When you are done, you will be the *world expert* in that one area.


DAY 1: my academic life, in 500 words

January 12, 2014

lisa hammershaimb

The second class of my doctoral-student career begins this Tuesday. It is 802: Advanced Research in Education and I feel pretty equal parts thrilled and terrified. Last year at this time being accepted into the program felt right about as probable as speaking at a conference or running an ultra marathon or performing piano in front of many many people. Oh wait…I did all those things too last year! Indeed a lot can happen in a year’s time and this past year has once more proven that…but back to the present. 802 begins the “serious stuff” of the EdD program–study turns from program orientation to the nuts and bolts of research, framework, paradigms, and methods and by early summer the hope is that we will no longer be wayward researchers, searching for our Nirvana but will have dissertation Mecca set in our sights and begin mapping out the course we will take to arrive. (Sorry…terrible religious cross pollination. In trying to make metaphors I think I may have only succeeded in being a bit offensive. Oops.)

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