Phd Log – Module 1

PhD Reflection Log

Introduction: This page will host the results of reflections and action I am taking as I progress in my PhD studies. I will post here on a weekly basis, the learning and experience I am gaining as I go thorught the weekly activities of my studies.

Note: Bold comments are constructive feedback, underlined comments mean areas I need to improve.


Week 1

Tutor Feedback:

Your initial post was good: clearly written and addressed each part of the question. I particularly like your use of sub-headings which makes everything much easier to read and digest. Only one of your posts had reference to additional literature – this is one weakness that you need to address a little more. Your additional postings again contributed very well to the group with some very good questions and probing of the different themes. Your background and experience is very beneficial to other participants so I would encourage you to continue with this. One important omission is that you didn’t submit the initial post to Turnitin. Technically this should be a Grade F. So, in future, please get into the habit of submitting the post there first and then subsequently to the discussion board. I note that you did submit to the Draft folder, so perhaps that was a mistake? Do let me know and also add it to the correct Turnitin folder. Michael

Reflection based on tutor’s feedback:

I need to practice more using referencing. I have to rely more on doing thorough research. I need to allocate more time for reading. I need to improve my reliance on smart online research. I need to cross reference information I get from one source with another reliable source to ensure accuracy and validity. The Turnitin question: I remember I did submit it to both Turitin. I do not know what went wrong. I resubmitted it again and now I am paying more attention to Turnitin submissions. It is still pain in the neck. However, the results of using Turnitin is worth it for it is forcing me to pay unprecedented attention to referencing details and citations.

Reflection based on interactions with team:

I was not able to focus a lot on the interaction with the team. This assignment is taking place in very difficult times for me. I am driving for more than 10000 Km in 12 days and I barely find enough “Internet time” on the way. However, I am excited that I am able to contribute at a good level because I rely effectively on offline technology. This helps me figure out ways to continue my online studies if when I face pressure in my real life.

Action to be taken:

read more than one reference for each week assignment. Double the time spent on reading resources and references. Practice using Liverpool research tool. Invest time researching Google Books and other online resources tools.

Some actions taken:

(1) subscribed to Safari Online Bookstore to increase the amount of reliable sources I can use.

(2) downloaded and installed Zotero to help me with capturing citations and working with references.


Week 2

Tutor Feedback:

Your initial post was again well-written and clearly addressed each part of the question, drawing on your own rich experience and context in Canada. Your posts are always interesting, well-structured and highly readable. There are however a number of relatively minor mistakes with referencing which will affect your grade this week. You sometimes refer to Wellington and Spikes (rather than Sikes) and sometimes you have 2006 whereas in the reference list you have 2005 for the date of publication. This is a small point and easily rectified but it is confusing and you should check your work thoroughly before submission for these kinds of errors as they detract from the overall effect. Your follow-up posts were very good and contributed very well to group discussion this week. You are capable of some very good work and a higher grade than this but you need to take a little more care about the submitted work. I look forward to seeing your work next week.

Reflection based on tutor’s feedback:

I need to work on the quality of my work. For some reason, I cannot capture minor mistakes that I do like citing and referencing.

Action to be Taken:

research and use online taking tools. Read material repeatedly before submission. Figure out a better way of proofreading my work. Identify root cause for missing minor mistakes. Read more about the mentality of a researcher and PHD student.

Some action taken

(1) I color coded my references so that I can cross check them in an easy manner.

(2) I tried to use OneNote tool to capture referencing online and share it across multiple computers and work as the central repository of my researches. Still an annoyance.

(3) Tried MS Word Referencing tools. I still have master it.

Questions by the tutor to be answered:

# What do I notice about my learning process? What are my key insights and transition points?

I am shifting from a “layperson” writing style to the academic learning style. I am more careful about what I “believe” and what is proven. I see clearly that academic work is based on the results of sound research and not gained experience. Now, I am doubting most of my knowledge and I am training myself to reference any of my ideas to previous work by researchers. I am open to change my opinion based on documented and sound research results.

# What learning am I gaining that could be applicable to my professional practice?

Frankly, nothing so far. Most of my focus is on learning to become an academic practitioner trough working on the structure, research and content. Most of these will not impact my work, yet.

# What am I learning from my fellow students? What am I contributing to their learning?

By reacting with my colleagues, I had the chance to reflect on my previous experience and put it in perspective of my future learning. I had a chance to put some of my opinion into the test be researching it to prove their validity. My research has proved some, so I quoted them, and disproved others, so I dropped them from my value-set.

# What challenges am I facing, and what might I do to overcome them?

Most of my challenges are personal. The last 3 weeks were very tiery. I had to travel between 9 time zone which results in bad jet lags and physical tiredness. In addition, I am passing through extremely busy time at work. Still, I am not allowing this to impact the timeliness nor the quality of m,y work.


Week Three

Tutor Feedback:

Your initial discussion forum post is well-written and shows evidence of second reading and research, answering all of the main points. Two out of your four follow-up posts contained references to secondary reading, but nevertheless contributed well to encouraging discussion. In your initial post, there were some minor APA errors (book and journal titles not italicized). You contributed very well to the Learning Team activity and the final report met all requirements and demonstrated some evidence of insightful contributions which extended the work of others. Contributions were suitable focused and sensitive. One important ommission is that of a brief formal conclusion for your report.

Reflection based on tutor’s feedback:

I need to work harder on the APA referencing. I am doing a lot of practice. One reason is that the course started with the Harvard style while I mastered then moved into APA which causes me to make some mistakes when I am rushing. One way forward is to wait another hour between completing the assignment and submitting it. In this way, I hope I can recheck it with and open eye and mind.

Reflection based on interactions with team:

I haven’t got much interaction from my team about my submission. This made me think I should write the assignment in a different way that makes them react. I suspect that the team tend to react to the first individuals who submit. My submissions were late, so I assume that could be the reason. I will make sure the Week 5 submission is early to see if it makes any difference. Otherwise, I need to figure out some other reasons.

One challenge imposed on me by one of the teammates forced me to go into a deeper research to reference my opinion. This made me discover a lot of information about Canadian laws and policies of Ethics. It was an enriching experience.

On the teamwork, I was impressed with the proactivity of David and Luk. In my case, I think I missed to understand the real assignment (the team work part of it and not the content). I need to work harder to make peace with the fact that the instructions and interaction happen through many different medium and to use the right tolls that will help keep track.

Questions by the tutor to be answered:

# What do I notice about my learning process? What are my key insights and transition points?

So far, I am focusing on the content while the instructor is focusing on the format. I need to spend more time balancing between the two.

# What learning am I gaining that could be applicable to my professional practice?

I am not learning much anything that impacts my learning profession, yet. Most of my learning are focused on becoming an academician (which is forwned upon in my work.) I am learning to do the right research, change to the paradigm where my opinion and experience is worthless unless I support with proven external research and that my work should be submitted in a specific format.

# What am I learning from my fellow students? What am I contributing to their learning?

Few confusing stuff. Some of my colleagues use complicated sentences and sophisticated vocabulary. I am still considering if I should make a similar witch or stay with my simple direct structure.

I have noticed that many of my colleagues emphasis their own opinion and experience. I am still considering if I should start doing that or stick to my decision to submit work based on proven work of other researchers and academicians. The tutor never mentioned I do that. In fact, there has been many indications by him and the literature that I should not do it. I do not know if his statement that I have omitted “a brief formal conclusion for your report” means he expects me to give my opinion. I will put my opinion in Week 4 submission to see his reaction, consequently, make up my decision.

# What challenges am I facing, and what might I do to overcome them?

I am facing few challenges:

Finding Time: It is the start of a new academic year which is my busiest time.

What I do to overcome it: I am making up some time by cutting my sleeping time. It is working, but it is tiring. I hope mid-September will be better.

Technical: Another challenge is using the right browser. Each one I tried has its draw back. Mozilla (Firefox, Safari and Opera) does not display the resources section and does not upload files to TurnItIn, but works well with the editor of the discussion board. Chrome does not work with the Blackboard editors. IE 9 is pathetic. Turnitin changes the format when uploaded. Copying a text from MS Word does not allow me to do any formatting in the Discussion Editor.

What I do to overcome it: I use multiple browsers. Chrome with Blackboard. Mozilla Firefox to submit and edit discussion submissions. I convert my word documents to pdf or MS Word 2003 (when available) then submit to Turnitin using IE9. I copy the MS Word to a text format, upload to the discussion editor through Mozilla FireFox and reformat the text. The discussion editor does not permit hanging indentation for the references section, so I copy the reference section from Word and append it in the discussion editor.

Research: I am still finding it difficult to do effective research through the Liverpool library. I cannot find many of the obvious articles easily. The Liverpool search tool tends to open many windows which clutters my desktop. Additionally, it does not work effectively with iPad which prevents me from using my idle work time in research.

What I do to overcome it: I Google my search terms in their books and scholar section. Then I locate that resource in the Liverpool library. I hope that in mid September I will be able to master searches on the Liverpool site.


Week Four (In Progress)

Tutor Feedback:

Dear Anas, Your initial discussion forum post is well-written this week and shows evidence of second reading and research, covering all of the main areas of the question. If there is a criticism it is that you incorporated rather too many bullet points/lists rather than using an essay style. Please try to do the latter. Four of your follow-up posts contained references to secondary reading (at least one) and extended the discussion of the group members. You participated well in the Learning Team activity and your team produced a successful report that completed the task in every respect.

 

Week Five

Tutor Feedback:

Dear Anas, This week’s discussion is complete in all major respects, showing evidence of outside research and a thorough understanding of the material. Glad to see a move to trusting your own works through paraphrase and relevant referencing. The follow-up posts contributed well to the group and showed insights into the topic area. You engage the other learners in reflection and questioning using a clear and non-threatening style. I hope to see you continuing in this vein now and aiming to achieve this grade or higher consistently.

 

# What challenges am I facing, and what might I do to overcome them?

This week’s assignment (2500 word essay) was a major challenge. It took far more than I anticipated. What i thought it was a 10 hour work, it turned out to take far more than that. I know that the turmoils at work might have added a twist to reduce my efficiency, but the reading, cross referencing, and double checking my work with multiple sources is a massive task even for such a simple assignment. The structure of the discussion board was a problem because I was not able to locate previous posts and discussions since it spans over many weeks and many sub-posts.


Week Sex

Tutor Feedback:

Dear Anas, Some relevant and insightful analysis and comparison between the articles in response to the questions in your initial post is evident. Evidence of external reading and research helps to structure your answers. The issue with word count and referencing has been previously commented on and I hope we understand each other: always use standard APA referencing (e.g., Fairbairn et al., 2009) rather than trying to abbreviate to save a few words. Given your effective contribution, this will not be a factor on this occasion, but please do adhere to the above, as you have done in the past. Your follow-up posts and work rate continue to establish you as an important voice on the course, and you have effectively encouraged discussion.

Reflection based on tutor’s feedback:

This was an excellent week at study but very bad at work. I was laid off. This was a shock for me. But I tried my best to put the sudden extra time I had on my studies. It paid off. I did extremely well with my assignments. Although I am still thinking about my future.

 


Week Seven

Tutor Feedback:

A clearly structured and well-written initial post again this week which pointed out a number of potential problems with the Fenge article. Accepting the article based on the fact it was peer reviewed may be an assertion worth challenging however, a point which came up in the subsequent discussion. Some effective and challenging contributions to the discussion forum which engaged other participants as usual characterised your other work and always kept the discussion going in new and worthwhile directions.

Reflection based on tutor’s feedback:

This week work was rewarding and disappointing. Rewarding because I have learned a lot through interacting with my peers. Disappointing because I did not receive any feedback that tells me if I am on the right track or the wrong track. It was the first week were I get a lot of interaction. I was proud of myself. But the interaction did not take me to discovring new meaningful knowledge. This made me think if I need to revist my writing style to ensure more contribution from my team mates.

However, one important discovery is that I really learn through observation and trial and error. I like to do something then receive a feedback that tells me if I am on the right track or the wrong track.

Reflection based on interactions with team:

While writing my critique assignment, I discovered my writing preference. Reflecting on my readings, I think my style is writing over a long period of time. I like to jot down my thoughts in a random way and as they come to me. Then start building the structure. Then write down an outline of the ideas in a sequesntial way. Then rewrite my random ideas based on the otuline. I keep revising the outline and the ideas until my article is formed. At this stage, I take a long rest. Like a day. Then tackle the article again with fresh eyes.

This approach means that I must give myself enough time before I submit my work. Leaving it to the last minute produces low quality material.

Action to be taken:

– Make sure I complete my submissions at least one day before the deadline to have enough time to review.

– Live in an environment where I can observe others. Talk to the tutor so that I get more constructive criticism that outline areas I need to improve.


Week Eight

Tutor Feedback:

Dear Anas, A detailed and sound piece of work showing a thorough understanding of material. There is sound evidence of relevant outside research, and some originality of thought or clear evidence of independent thinking. Regular use of effective logical thinking, critical analysis and judgment in relation to the suggestions for future revision is included. Overall, this was a suitably focused and well written piece of writing and analysis that met all the main requirements. Well done on a producing such a detailed analysis, I’m sure they will be helpful for the authors.

 

Week Nine

Tutor Feedback:

Dear Anas, This week’s work across the discussion forum meets all requirements with a well-written series of interventions in the discussion. There is good evidence of outside reading and research, particularly in relation to the helpful research on kaizen. The follow-up posts question and extend the work of other participants in a well-judged fashion and shows depth of understanding and personal insight. Good work

 


Week Ten

Tutor Feedback:

 

Dear Anas, This was a factually sound piece of work which demonstrated your thorough understanding of the material and evidence of relevant outside research, some originality and independent thinking and reflection. Your analytical style is in evidence throughout and you have high standards. This work meets all the requirements but there are some minor errors in APA which should be eradicated (vol/issue number of journals; capitalization; italicization). Overall a well-structured and signposted essay notable for its interesting cultural perspectives on previous work and good ideas for improving communication in the course.

Grade B (Anas Eljamal) Dear Anas, Effective use of relevant literature throughout on this occasion to support your arguments shows your depth and range of reading. There is strong evidence of a productive and reflective intelligence which will enable you to advance in this course as a whole. The contributions are suitably focused and meet all the requirements in terms of content. I enjoyed reading about your insights and self reflections. Please use a spellcheck – the word “through” is spelled incorrectly in the title (and there are a few other minor errors). Where referencing is concerned, try use Endnote or something similar.

Terfot Ngwana

Dear Anas,
I read your blog with lots of interest because it hinges on some of the discussions we had in the DDP. There are three fascinating assertion presented in your blog on which I would like to comment:
1) The fact that your personal knowledge (or opinion) counts for nothing in academic debate.
2) Another is that your work environment is hostile to the notion of reasoning as an academic.
3) That the learning on the EdD is not having any impact on your practice (yet).

In terms of point one, I would like to share with you the observation that the notion of searching for proof, be it in the form of supporting literature or data, is within a single paradigm in research thinking (e.g positivism). Another paradigm or approach would be to treat your opinion or what you call your knowledge as a subject for exploration. The outcome is not only going to be solely proving it right or wrong but more concerned with extending and clarifying such an opinion.

The common thread in academic/research thinking is the fact that both approaches use evidence. Positivism (as a paradigm) uses evidence to establish standards of proof while an interpretive approach uses evidence to create a better understanding and extend the ideas.

In terms of points two and three, there is a wide range of systems of thinking that would eventually clarify why this is the case and also for you to integrate that as part of your ‘troublesome aspect’ in your quest for a treshold concept (see our tutorial discussion). I would advise that you look into the philosophical and social perspectives of action theory for clues. Also see the works Donald Schon and Chris Argyris on how they attempt to dispel this dicotomy.

Your question about a conclusion is understandable. However, I always consider a conclusion to represent two very essential things:
1) a summary of the key points made and
2) how the points connect to form an integral argument.
This is not your opinion per se but what you have woven the points to mean.

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