Thoughts on work


I had a hard time titling this post and so I settled on the lowest common denominator to the titles I was considering: This is a post with thoughts on work!

I started my Ph.D. almsot exactly 10 years ago. I was not very well prepared for graduate school, but I had some strengths. I had been a teacher; my first publication - on the role of context in ed tech research (TPACK, specifically) came directly from what I noticed as a teacher, namely that context mattered more than the ed tech field seemed to acknowledge. I also was fairly hard working, if not the best advised in terms of what I worked on.

I struggled. My advisor recollected to me later that he didn’t think I was going to make it. If I recall correctly, I muddled through my first and parts of my second year.

I became a bit of a more confident writer and I developed some research skills - qualitative through coding with my indefagitable colleague Spencer (with whom I shared an advisor, Matt) and, around the same time, quantitative. The reason I learned quantitative research methods is humorous in retrospect. I had told my advisor I wanted to learn more about studying learning in context by taking a class on phenomenology. I was pointed to a class on multi-level modeling intead. While taking the class, I struggled. Many of my peers had access to statistical software through grants they worked as a part of; I wasn’t working on any grants. I used R because the teaching assistant supported it by providing some code we could adapt. I struggled to learn R, but became more confident around or after the end of the semester. I only submitted a final for the class because of my colleague You-Kyung—we submitted our final together with a third peer.

As I learned more, my research skills grew, but I still had a lot of growth to do. I ended up taking six years to finish my Ph.D., but I ended up learning more than I can sum. I started to work hard. I recall working every chance I could. I worked while my wife and I took a bike tour in northern Michigan; I worked on a ferry in Switzerland on my first trip to Europe.