The following statement of philosophy expresses what getting a Ph.D. means, or rather should mean if a doctoral program is substantive and rigorous. My professors (Dr. Les Lunce) often expressed this philosophy to us throughout my doctoral studies. Many of my professors also embodied this philosophy as exemplars of what it means to be a scholar. Not everyone in my cohort bought into this of course. And some professors were less active in articulating the philosophy to us. But for those of us who did “get it”, found completing our doctoral studies to be a life-changing experience. It is an experience akin to living in another country; one comes out on the other side a changed person. You will never look at yourself, your life or the universe around you in the same way again. If you understand this philosophy and if it appeals to you at some deep level, then you should seriously consider doctoral studies.
Published: March 14, 2011 - New York Times New Marlborough, Mass. IN a speech last week, President Obama said it was unacceptable that “as many as a quarter of American students are not finishing high school.” But our current educational approach doesn’t just fail to prepare teenagers for graduation or for college academics; it fails to prepare them, in a profound way, for adult life.
To begin this conversation, one must understand one traditional definition of PhD. According to the Concordia Dictionary---
Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated as PhD or Ph.D. (for the Latin philosophiae doctor), or sometimes D.Phil. in English-speaking countries (for the Greek ???????? ??????????), is an advanced academic degree awarded by universities. Here philosophy (?????????), literally meaning "the love of wisdom", is used in the original Greek sense, loosely meaning "the pursuit of knowledge" and does not exclusively refer to the field we call philosophy today.
Imagine if a PC had some form of consciousness. Its not impossible, given that a modern CPU, such as the Intel Quad Core has more interconnected switches in it than a dog's brain does. Now imagine that the PC tries to figure out where it came from. Since most PCs are connected to the Internet, it could have some form of a 'dialogue' with millions of other PCs. It might create a sort of theory of creation. Here is how that theory might go: First there was nothing. A point of nothingness exploded. Motion started and the laws of Physics came to be. Space and Time began. Particles popped into existence and curdled into lumps of probability. Matter and gravitation formed swirling masses of gas that curdled into galaxies, stars and planets. On some planets, carbon chains curdled into swirling springs of DNA. Life started and, in a few millennia, acquired sentience as trillions of interconnected organic switches self organised. Sentient creatures understood the nature of connected systems and self organisation. Working with lattices of Silicon, they created interconnected inorganic switches. The Computer came to be. So, the PC concludes that no sentient designer was needed to explain its existence. Just probability and the Standard Model of Particle Physics is enough to explain its existence. But, we humans know that the PC was designed by us. How then did humans come to be? Could there have been, and maybe still is, a Sentient Designer?
Whether you’re a student, teacher, or businessperson, academic writing skills are necessary in today’s world. Essays, reports, presentations and research papers are just some examples of documents written in the academic style. Academic writing, when used appropriately, presents a polished and professional image. Academic writing skills encompass strong composition, excellent grammar, and a consistent stylistic approach.
How to Write Your Thesis compiled by Kim Kastens, Stephanie Pfirman, Martin Stute, Bill Hahn, Dallas Abbott, and Chris Scholz
I. Thesis structure
Title (including subtitle), author, institution, department, date of delivery, research mentor, mentor's institution
A good abstract explains in one line why the paper is important. It then goes on to give a summary of your major results, preferably couched in numbers with error limits. The final sentences explain the major implications of your work. A good abstract is concise, readable, and quantitative.
Length should be ~ 1-2 paragraphs, approx. 400 words.
Absrtracts generally do not have citations.
Information in title should not be repeated.
Use numbers where appropriate.
Answers to these questions should be found in the abstract:
What did you do?
Why did you do it? What question were you trying to answer?
How did you do it? State methods.
What did you learn? State major results.
Why does it matter? Point out at least one significant implication.
Table of Contents
list all headings and subheadings with page numbers
it will look something like this:
List of Figures ....................................................................xxx
List of Tables
In 1957, Marshall McLuhan, a noted educational futurist stated the following:
It’s natural today to speak of “audio and visual aids” to teaching, for we still think of the book as the norm, of other media as incidental. We also think of the new media – press, radio, movies, TV – as MASS MEDIA & think of the book as an individualistic form. Individualistic because it isolated the reader in silence & helped create the Western “I.” Yet it was the first product of mass production.
A great deal has happened since 1957, and yet it question remains the same. Is the educational establishment still trying to hold on to the old paradigm which is centered on the factory model of mass production? Mass production’s premise is that manufactures create a product where one size fits all and everything is interchangeable. Much educational technology of today is just layered onto the old skeleton of educational ideology, and brings to fore the question, “Is this the best use of this technology”. Education, for centuries, has been based on a largely oral tradition. Books are simply a visual aide to that oral tradition (McLuhan, 1957). (McLuhan, 1957) states that:
Today in our cities, most learning occurs outside the classroom. The sheer quantity of information conveyed by press-mags-film-TV-radio far exceeds the quantity of information conveyed by school instruction & texts.
Can this idea be any truer today than it was in 1957?
A relevant aspect of this discussion comes from the video tape viewed in class on the first day of class in my doctoral program which stated that when there is a paradigm shift, it is necessary to abandon everything from the previous paradigm (Barker, 1993). As we look around out global culture in business and industry, we find that companies that are integrating technology are doing just that. Before the .com boom of the 1990’s, business being conducted online was a pipe dream. The revolutionaries that founded eBay, Amazon and the like were so successful because they chose to create their own paradigm. Education, however, which is mired in tradition and tenure, is very slow to change, let alone abandon anything that is perceived to be working. Much of technology in the classroom is just doing the same old, same old with new tools.
Educators propound reforms, but schools remain the same. Without material agency, new methods fail. A scheme captures the educational imagination – spokes-people think it out, the daring to try it, researchers document its effects and the committed demand its adoption. Thus, the idea diffuses from various centers -- but then, sporadically, resistance builds, enthusiasm falters, influence weakens; ineluctably, distinctive practices gravitate back to the norm. Pedagogical weathering soon makes the new shingles indistinguishable from the old (McClintock, 1992).
If we permit ourselves to expand our vision, I think we may find that technology offers forward thinking constructivist teachers a means to achieve truly new and exciting ways to implement learning in and out of the classroom.
I would like to propose several myths that are accepted by many teachers and educators which limit their implementation of new technological thinking.
First, the school building, in traditional thought, is simply a space where teaching takes place. It is the location of learning. We tend to mix the idea of schooling and learning. Even field trips are linked to a time and a place making formal learning bound to these constraints. Secondly, the school often promotes the idea, if not intentionally, that real learning occurs on a schedule from about 7:30 AM to 3:30 PM for nine and a half months out of the year. This unspoken idea binds both teachers and students to the fallacious concept that anything that is learned outside of the curriculum is irrelevant. NCLB only tends to reinforce this notion. This unspoken idea only tends to isolate the community and the home environment from the school. Third, all relevant teaching is performed only by certified, highly qualified teachers, making many classrooms resistant to the infusion of community resources and input.
Technology, potentially, can shatter all these myths. The scope of learning that can be accomplished using technology can be mind shattering. Technology is present 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It comes in the forms of television, media, computers, the internet, applications, books on tape, E-Books, CD’s … the list goes continues. The important fact is that none of these things are the sole possession of the classroom or the teacher. They are present in the community, in most homes, in public libraries and can even be found in public areas such as book stores and cyber cafes. Several cohort members have stated on this forum that the technology gap is a major reason for some students’ success while others fail. This is largely true if we limit our definition of technology to the computers in the classrooms and assume that the classroom is the only place where real learning can take place. Society, and particularly our students, is, at all levels immersed in technology. If we only limit our discussion to the use and availability of computers in the classroom, we fall victim to the old paradigm of thought discussed at the beginning of this entry. While one can not argue the impact of the availability of computers in the classrooms has an impact on learning, there is a larger picture that needs to be addressed and that is, with current technology, are classrooms having a negative impact on learning?
For a true paradigm shift to occur, the schools of the future must embrace, coordinate and utilize all the forms of technology available from computers to video records to books on tapes and beyond. Innovative thinking requires that we take the basic theories of learning and think of them in terms of technologies implementation. There is, however, a broader problem that is often overlooked. Most educational planners are digital immigrants (Prinsky, 2001). This has created a huge gap between educators and their students who are digital natives (Prinsky, 2001). Our students, regardless of race, socioeconomic status or class are immersed in technology. They have at their hands a limitless quantity of information. As educators, we must utilize this strength within all of our students and not merely limit it to what can be found in the school building or inflexible curriculum. The technology paradigm shift will force us to rethink how we teach and embrace the full capacity of what the technological revolution brings. We must educate our students to be the future pioneers in business, industry and education, not just the caretakers of the old. Future educators must design a plan to education future students using technology as the vehicle for teaching, not just an add-on component. Future curricula must integrate not only computers, which are available either in the students’ homes, the public libraries or various educational cyber cafes around the area, but must also include the utilization of all resources in the community. These resources can include families, business and industry, public and private institutions, media of all types and all available technology including cell phones, CD’s, DVD’s, PDA’s, Computers and Software. Future educational planners must remember, to let go of all the old ideas of how schools to run. Based on the premise of basic learning theory they must strive to create new paradigms for educating students. Schools must begin to shift from their roles of just dispensers of knowledge to centers aimed at the coordination and integration of information in all of its forms.
Barker, J. (Writer) (1993). Discovering the future series: Paradigm pioneers.
McClintock, R. (1992). Power and pedagogy: Transforming education through information technology. New York: Teachers College, Columbia University.
In response to a colleagues comment regarding technology in the schools: “there are many practical and efficient ways to use technology and note that various classroom applications are consistent with what is currently known about effective learning experiences”, there is another side that warrants examination. I would like to approach the subject from a “devil’s advocate” position and examine the issues of technical effectiveness in the schools from the point of view of the technician rather than the technology itself.
Few people today would argue that the invention of the computer is having a powerful impact upon schools across America. The computer, together with the internet, opens many doors to the world of information. From its use as a profound research tool, to being an electronic tutor for struggling students, the computer is transforming the lives of students, teachers and everyone in education. With all of the praise and celebration surrounding this wonderful innovation, some very difficult questions should also be asked. Before we can begin to explore these questions, we must reframe our viewpoint by asking, “What are computers?”
Computers, through myth and reason, have begun to acquire their own persona. However, it must always be pointed out that computers are tools, just like pencils and textbooks. It takes people to bring these tools to life. In the classroom, the “life giver” of this tool happens to be the teacher. With that in mind, there arises the matter of the aptitude that teachers possess at using computers as effective tools in the classroom.
Are teachers adequately prepared to integrate computer technology into their lessons on a daily basis? Even with the mandated requirements to ensure that teachers are highly qualified, technology training is one area that may be being ignored. Most teacher education programs include classes dedicated to pedagogy, classroom management, and the teaching of core subject areas. Over the years I have reviewed many college catalogs and it has become fairly evident that formal technology training is often limited to just one or two courses for most education majors. Training in the applications of technology for practicing teachers is even more limited, usually constrained to a one day in-service session that often creates more questions than answers. The lack of meaningful training opportunities results in teachers, both seasoned and novice, feeling far from confident in using computers in their classrooms (Cuban, 2005). In many schools in this country, classrooms are filled with cutting edge computer equipment, and yet it is used less than 10% of the time (Cuban, 2005). This is primarily because teachers are often intimidated by the technology and feel that their students know more about computers than they do (Cuban, 2005). So, this begs the question: How are computers being used in the schools?
The primary educational uses of computers in many schools are limited to internet searching, word processing, and sometimes Power Point presentations (Cuban, 2005). A typical assignment using technology may require students to use the internet to find information and then type a report. It is sad to report that many teachers often do not even provide guidance for the students so that they can perform quality searches on the internet (Cuban, 2005). Many times, assignments are given as an in-class activity. One must be willing to ask: what is the purpose of the activity, what are the outcomes, what is expected to be learned, and what changes can the teacher expect in their students as a result of the activity (Frick, 1991)? Most quality educators will agree that good teaching pedagogy dictates that unless the teacher can answer these questions BEFORE constructing the activity, the use of the computer (the activity) often becomes nothing but a distraction, and the teacher may be better served assigning a coloring contest. Activities are not teaching. Teaching requires preparation, skill development, outcomes, and most importantly – change (Gooden, 1996). If computers are used as agents of this kind of change, then they become tools of education.
Another major enigma in the classroom often comes in the form of educational software. What guarantees do administrators and teachers have that the available educational software has been independently researched and validated for its effectiveness in the classroom? Also, has there been testing to prove that such software is effective across multi-cultural lines and among diverse learners? The development of education software in America is very big business. In big business, the focus is not always on effectiveness, but rather on the glamour that will sell the product and produce a profit (Johnson, 2000). The need for high quality software is critical. The software should be intuitive and should not require a great learning curve on the part of either the teacher or the students. If the learning curve is too great, then the software tends to be a frustrating distraction to the learning process (Johnson, 2000). Who picks the software for use in the school? Are the persons selecting the software qualified in the evaluation of such educational tools for their particular school population?
One solution is to hire educational technology specialists to work in collaboration with teachers. Many schools, in fact, have already undertaken the hiring of such individuals (Frick, 1991). However, what often happens is the technology specialist operates as a separate entity, without in-depth collaboration from the classroom teachers. Sometimes this results because the technology specialist is responsible for so many classrooms, that their services are not always readily available (Frick, 1991).
Another consideration is centered on how teachers use technology to aide in their own ongoing professional development as educators. Hundreds, if not thousands, of internet sites exist where teachers may collaborate and share lesson ideas, read and share research findings, but, in 1999 it was estimated that about only 50% of the teachers were taking advantage of these resources (Johnson, 2000).
A primary focus in American education is that of the achievement gap that has developed between the “haves” and the “have-nots” in terms of student achievement. One argument that is repeated again and again blames the lack of resources, such as computers and technology, in some of the poorest school districts and, at the same time, the over abundance of such tools in the more affluent schools. Judy made a strong argument in her posting as to how there is a huge gap between the resources available to diverse school settings. However, I often feel that this discussion is in danger of being hijacked by competitive rhetoric. I am not totally convinced that the achievement gap is primarily the result of the technology resource gap. I personally feel that the classroom is comprised of two primary components that promote the success or failure of any school population. First, of course, are the students, together with their families and the community. However, the most over riding factor of what happens academically in the classroom is still the teacher (Wong, 1998). It is the teacher who provides the spark of inspiration and encouragement that makes learning possible.
In conclusion, I would like to suggest that before of focusing on technology that is very expensive, schools must first ask two basic questions: “Why do we need this technology?” and “How are we and who is going to use it?” If these questions cannot be adequately answered, then the money would probably be better spent attracting and retaining high quality classroom teachers. Remember, technology is a tool, not a means unto itself. Teachers are the catalyst of change in the classroom. I would choose a great teacher with a great rapport with their students and community over an unqualified teacher with a great computer system. It must always be remembered that teachers teach students, and good teachers will succeed regardless of the computers provided. Granted, great teachers with proper technology training can be highly effective with computers, but until schools can assure the public that such proficient teachers are in place, I feel that the money may be better spent on quality teachers and not on the fanciest technology. Train and hire first, buy second.
Cuban, L. (2005). Oversold and underused: Computers in the classroom, Education World.Wallingford, CT.
There has been much discussion regarding the use of technology, particularly computers, in the classroom. The research has taken us on a tour of global social issues such as the achievement gap, the school resource gap, the gender gap in technology, science and mathematics, and yet, the research is still inconclusive as to the effectiveness of computers in regards to learning. We are often reminded that computers are simply another form of educational tool which can be used in the development of higher level and critical thinking skills. However, before one can truly begin any such discussion, one must return to some kind of basic theory on how individuals learn, especially children. This warrants a revisiting of Blooms (1956) taxonomy and an examination of how computers may or may not fit into this theory. Let us explore current uses of computers in relation to each of Blooms (1956) categorizations.
In the Cognitive Domain (Bloom, 1956) the use of technology has primarily been effective in only the knowledge and application levels of operation. Analysis, synthesis and evaluation require higher order thinking processes which require human interface. For example, when a student learns to use the computer for browsing, word processing or creating a PowerPoint presentation, he/she is basically using the basics of the application (Means, 1994). The student uses the knowledge of how the program works to access information such as mouse clicks or word processing formatting (Means, 1994). The ability to analyze the data that is retrieved lies in the instruction received by the teacher (Anderson; Krathwohl; Airasian; Cruikshank; Mayer; Pintrich; Raths; Wittrock, 2000). Analysis, synthesis and evaluation are reliant upon higher level thinking skills which can occur in such a multitude of permutations as to make the programming of learning based applications difficult. The exception to this statement comes in the pure science of computer programming whereby the student learns the knowledge and application stages of a particular programming language and then gains an understanding of the interplay between algorithms thus accessing the analysis stage. When the programming student takes these ideas and uses them to create an entirely new computer application, they are demonstrating the synthesis quality. Finally, when debugging the program and making it more user-friendly and predictable, the student programmer enters the final evaluation stage.
Computer programming permits the student to learn the rules, apply the rules, and create an entirely new application using the rules and then evaluate and improve the application during the beta testing phase. Technology students understand this process. The problem is, when it comes to educational applications of technology, educators, for the most part, do not.
In the Affective Domain (Bloom, 1956) computers can once again access the first two stages of learning. In the receiving phenomena stage, students are able to begin to access information on the computer or the World Wide Web. If the computer application takes on the form of a game of challenge, as many educational applications do, the student is able to respond to the phenomena and become an active participant in the learning process. However, once again, educators are faced with the dilemma at the valuing stage of learning. This is a human quality and involves individual choices which often lacks a truly right or wrong answer (Anderson et al., 2000). The values we place upon objects, phenomenon and behavior tend to be reinforced by the interaction with other people, not machines.
Computers, however, do possess the ability to open greater levels of communication over greater distances. (Honey & Hawkins, 1998). The concern remains as to the quality of that communication.
While communication potentials open many doors for well planned social interactions using computer, to date, much of the two remaining levels of the domain, organization and internalization, are minimized. There is, however, a danger. Commercial game manufacturers have permitted students to enter these final affective domains quite effectively by suspending true values and supplanting them with fantasy values such as those reinforced in violent role playing games.
The true potential educational value for computers occurs in the psychomotor domain (Bloom, 1956). It is here, with inventive collaboration between educators and application developers, that the greatest immediate impact can be made (Newman, 1990). The United States military knows this to be true and even uses computer simulation to train combat troops (Kennedy, 1999). The first level of interaction is perception where the student develops the ability to use sensory cues to guide motor activity. With practice and variations in the scenarios, the student develops what is referred to as the set or mind set, which Bloom (1956) identifies as the second level of the psychomotor domain. In this stage, knowing the mental, physical and emotional sets, a person’s response to a given stimulus can be predetermined. As the skills being learned become more complex, the next level of guided response is entered. This is the practice stage where trial and error attempts helps to hone the skills to a more complex level. During this stage, a student will enter into what is referred to as the mechanism level where responses have become habitual and movements can be performed with some level of confidence and proficiency. At some point, the student will enter into a complex overt response level where the movements become easy and second nature. This can be observed in video games where the player becomes so skilled in the game, it appears as if they are not even expending much effort and yet are being successful. As in many video games, there are ‘special moves’ that requires the player to adapt to special circumstances and enters Blooms (1956) sixth level. This final level, organization, is demonstrated where the student moves from one game to another and has the ability to generalize the skills learned in the first to an entirely new situation.
Using the above information, let us review what we have learned. At the cognitive domain, computers, as of this time, may help students access, format and retrieve immense amounts of information, manipulate data and organize information, but, because of the very nature of the computer, it is incapable as of yet to teach the skills of analysis, synthesis or evaluation. What it can do very effectively is to provide the data that is used in the above mentioned functions, but the actual higher level thinking skills must be performed and instructed by humans (Honey & Hawkins, 1998), with one possible exception being the pure science of programming.
At the affective domain, the computer is once again capable of supplying the diverse qualities of data and information, but value judgments are the privy of the human brain. Such value judgments are made only after a very detailed process of observation and integration of data that is currently impossible to quantify. The expansion of communication ability has promise, however, is dangerous without the cognitive ability needed to discern relevant dialog (Zaritsky & Zeisler, 2001).
It is the psychomotor domain where computers have had the greatest impact in the non-business world. From video games to military simulations, computers have provided the ability to practice more and more complex motor skills. The concern that should be paramount to educators is the fact that such skills involve very little higher level thinking and can train a person to perform from rote without any understanding of the tasks which they are practicing.
In conclusion, teachers must continue to nurture the qualities of higher level thinking, critical analysis and synthesis, the development of values and the internalization of those values to form fully integrated and thinking students (Anderson et al., 2000).
Professional development is definitely necessary, as suggested by several of participants in this discussion. I would like to propose that the nature of professional development must change. Teachers must get past the basic operational stage of computer usage and be comfortable with the exploration of the more esoteric uses so that they can help guide their students to higher levels of thinking using the computer as one of many tools available to them.
Bloom B. S. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives. New York: David McKay Co Inc.
Honey, M., Carrigg, F., & Hawkins, J. (1998). Union City online: An architecture for networking and reform. In C. Dede (Ed.), Learning with technology [1998 ASCD yearbook] (pp. 121-140). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
L. W. Anderson, D. R. Krathwohl, P. W. Airasian, K. A. Cruikshank, R. E. Mayer, P. R. Pintrich, J. Raths, M. C Wittrock. (2000). Taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing, A revision of Bloom's taxonomy of educational objectives. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Means, B. (1994). Technology and education reform: The reality behind the promise. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Newman, D. (1990). Technology's role in restructuring for collaborative learning (CTE Technical Report #8). New York: Center for Children and Technology, Education Development Center
Zaritsky, R., & Zeisler, A. (2001). Building the 21st century school. Champaign, IL: National Center for Supercomputing Applications, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
When you are applying for a research degree, like the PhD, you will very probably have to write a research proposal as a part of your application file. A PhD is awarded mainly as the result of your making a genuine contribution to the state of knowledge in a field of your choice. Even though this is not the Nobel Prize yet, getting the degree means you have added something to what has previously been known on the subject you have researched. But first you have to prove you are capable of making such a contribution, and therefore write a research proposal that meets certain standards. The goal of a research proposal (RP) is to present and justify a research idea you have and to present the practical ways in which you think this research should be conducted. When you are writing a RP, keep in mind that it will enter a competition, being read in line with quite a few other RPs. You have to come up with a document that has an impact upon the reader: write clearly and well structured so that your message gets across easily. Basically, your RP has to answer three big questions: what research project will you undertake, why is important to know that thing and how will you proceed to make that research. In order to draw the researcher's attention upon your paper, write an introduction with impact, and that leads to the formulation of your hypothesis. The research hypothesis has to be specific, concise (one phrase) and to lead to the advancement of the knowledge in the field in some way. Writing the hypothesis in a concise manner and, first, coming up with a good hypothesis is a difficult mission. This is actually the core of your application: you're going to a university to do this very piece of research. Compared to this, the rest of the application is background scenery. Take your time to think of it. When you have an idea, be careful at the formulation. A well-written hypothesis is something of an essay's thesis: it provides a statement that can be tested (argues ahead one of the possible answers to a problem), it is an idea, a concept, and not a mere fact, and is summed up in one phrase. In some cases, you will have no idea what the possible answer to a problem worth being researched is, but you will be able to think of a way to solve that problem, and find out the answer in the meantime. It's ok in this case, to formulate a research question, rather than a hypothesis. Let those cases be rare, in any way.