Get Your Geek On: Choosing a Doctoral Specialization

Choosing Your Specialization by Tracy Wilson

This post will discuss my specialization at Capella University, my specific interests in that specialty, career goals, program requirements, workforce expectations, planning, and the research questions and methods in my area of study. 

Specialization, Interests, and Career Goals

            As an adjunct instructor, Educational Psychology with an emphasis in psychology teaching and instruction is a natural fit for me.  I have a heart-felt interest in helping students succeed.  I want to be a tenured professor at a university, preferably where I am employed already.  However, if that is not possible, I will utilize the Career Center at Capella to find other opportunities.  Moreover, I want to contribute to the field by finding innovative ways to teach and engage with students.

Workforce Requirements, Degree Requirements, and Planning

I spoke to colleagues at the university where I teach before enrolling in the Educational Psychology program.  I wanted to understand what my department expected from potential employees.  I also wanted a solid understanding of the time and effort it would take to complete a doctoral program. 

I will not be required to obtain a license.  The coursework that I am completing is more than adequate.  According to the discussions I have had with my department chair, coursework in psychology, instruction, and a successful dissertation are the primary requirements for employment.  Capella’s program meets that criteria.  Therefore, I will be taking core classes, specialization courses, and emphasis courses.  Some of my graduate credits transferred, so I am pretty pleased with that.

The program consists of many core requirements, including several statistics courses.  This makes me very anxious because I am terrible at math.  Although I received an “A” in graduate level statistics, I suffered many sleepless nights and panic attacks.  Frankly, I am dreading these classes, but I already plan to utilize tutoring services to survive. 

In addition to core coursework, I am required to take specialization courses.  Two of my graduate classes transferred to suffice for a core course requirement and another for a specialization course.  The specialization courses I have on my academic plan are Lifespan Development, Learning Theories in Psychology, Motivation, and Principles of Educational Psychology (Academic plan, 2017).  My emphasis is in psychology teaching and instruction, so I will be taking The Psychology of Teaching, Principles of Instructional Design, Adult Learner in the Classroom, and Online Teaching in Psychology Practicum (2017).

           I also am required to complete three residencies, take a comprehensive exam, and then finish with a dissertation.  I am looking forward to the residencies.  I love traveling and networking.  I am a little anxious about the comprehensive exam.  I have heard horror stories about folks flunking it and then unsuccessfully completing a retake.

I am not apprehensive about the dissertation.  In fact, I am looking forward to researching areas that interest me.  Having my contributions published is another added bonus. 

To complete the requirements, I have decided to take two classes in the summer quarters and only one in the fall, winter, and spring.  Although that was not the original plan, I have realized how difficult it would be to set aside 30 hours per week for studying while teaching.  I will complete the program in a little over four years (2017). 

Research Questions and Methods in Educational Psychology

For this portion of the discussion, I was asked to look at my specialization broadly.  However, as an instructor, I use a blended learning model with a transfer of learning component.  Therefore, I wanted to know more about the current research, designs, and implementation.  One of many articles I found include one written by Botam, Van Rensburg, Coetzee, and Heyns (2015) and they focused their research on a transfer of learning and health care.  Using Bloom’s taxonomy, I went beyond the realm of health care and evaluated how the transfer of learning could be applied across disciplines.  I came up with several ideas, but because I am still looking at the research, I do not want to present claims without evidence.

Conclusion

The road ahead will be challenging, but knowing what is expected of me in the Educational Psychology program at Capella serves as a road map.  Most of all, understanding current research and methodology will allow me to work toward my dissertation and give credibility to my teaching methods.

References

Academic plan.  (2017, April 20).  Retrieved from https://campus.capella.edu/web/dcp/home.

Botma, Y., Van Rensburg, G., Coetzee, I., & Heyns, T. (2015).  A conceptual framework for

          educational design at modular level to promote transfer of learning.  Innovation in Education and Teaching International,

          52(5), 499-509.  doi:  10.1080/14703297.2013.866051

Get Your Geek On: Applying Bloom’s Taxonomy

Applying Bloom’s Taxonomy by Tracy Wilson

This post will investigate Bloom’s taxonomy through three articles written by Diniburtun (2012), Neher (1991), and Bassett-Jones and Lloyd (2005).  Additionally, similarities and difference among those articles will be analyzed as well as mutual agreements among the readings and gaps that need to be addressed.

Key Ideas

What motivates people to achieve success?  Diniburtun (2012), Neher (1991), and Bassett-Jones and Lloyd (2005) sought out to answer this age-old question.  They dissected three major theories.

For Diniburtun (2012), David McClelland’s motivation theory was the key focus.  According to the article, some individuals are motivated by the triumph aspect of success.  Power also serves motivation, but not in a negative sense; they seek to change the world for the better.  Still others are motivated by positive social constructs, and through relationships they achieve success. 

McClleland’s model focused on three key concepts (2012).  The first was achievement motive, which is motivation based on a person’s need for success.  They are intrinsically motivated and will take on task that present the possibility for success.  However, they do not prefer situation that are overly difficult. 

The second concept is motivation through power (2012).  These personality types crave power and want to influence others in a direct way.  They want to change the world by offering a better way to do things.  These individuals have a high likelihood of becoming drunk on power, yet if they stay on course, they can become wonderful administrators.

Thirdly, is the type of motivation that comes from the need for inclusion (2012).  These individuals have a need to interact and have relationships.  Those relationships provide the motivation for success.  They are typically very friendly and are a wealth of support for others.

Neher (1991) focused on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and implied that needs drive behavior, which then provides motivation toward success.  The goal is to develop holistically toward self actualization.  Striving for more should motivate individuals passed the lower level needs.

In the article, Neher (1991) explains Maslow’s hierarchy, stating that basic need, such as food and water, come first.  Next is the need to feel safe.  Thirdly, a person must feel loved and engage in intimacy with others.  The fourth need is self-esteem.  Lastly, the person reaches his or her full potential when self actualization is reached.  This is the end-goal and represents the top of the pyramid in Maslow’s model.  The first, second, third, and fourth level is called “D needs” (1991).  They drive a person towards fulfillment.  However, the fifth need, self actualization, is a “B-need” (1991).  This means that the need maintains and drives the individual based on “deprivation,” not gratification (1991).

Bassett-Jones and Lloyd (2005) looked at Herzberg’s approach to motivation.  They examined dissatisfaction, satisfaction, and neutrality.  A finding that was somewhat surprising was that money did not motivate people in the work force.  Additionally, findings indicated that happy or unhappy employees were influenced by the work environment and all of the dynamics therein.

The motivators in this model take a two-pronged approach.  There are “work-hygiene factors” (2005) and motivations that sustain a person’s efforts.  At the most basic level, money is a hygiene factor for workforce motivation.  However, money does not provide motivation.  The reason why folks are dissatisfied is not because of money, but rather because of policies, administration, supervision issues, and general working conditions.

Similarities and Differences

Each theorist presents different findings to each research endeavor, but most of the time those findings overlap.  This is true with the authors in this literature review.  All three of the articles touched on success and motivation.  They also examined various social aspects of motivation and success.  Additionally, they address needs with various means of assessment.  

The differences between the articles were somewhat subtle.  The most pronounced difference was in Herzberg’s work because it focused entirely on motivation in the work force (Bassette-Jones & Lloyd, 2005).  Maslow and McClelland focused on intrinsic motivation and social psychology as a whole (Dinibutun, 2012; Neher, 1991).

Mutual Agreements and Gaps in Research

All of the articles have one common theme:  motivation.  According to the theorists, motivation moves individuals toward success and the motivations are different for each person (Bassett-Jones & Lloyd, 2005; Dinibutun, 2012; Neher, 1991).  All three theorists can agree that being successful is a personal journey and that certain steps must be taken to reach various aspirations.  The common theme among the articles is how social psychology can play into motivation and achievement.  The effect of intrinsic and extrinsic motivational factors were common among the literature, gratification being the key component.

In reviewing the literature, there was one gap.  Perhaps this gap was addressed in the articles’ entirety, but based on the excerpts motivational strategies were not discussed.  Successful people employ strategies to stay motivated and reach their potential (Palmer, 2005).  Adding strategies would have brought the articles together even more and offered assistance to individuals who are seeking motivational tools.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the articles reviewed were insightful and presented aspects of motivation that are important for academic pursuits and work force adjustment.  While all of the articles revolved around the common theme of motivation, strategies were not discussed.  Still, the articles offered an understanding into social dynamics and how they ultimately play a major role in motivation and success. 

References

Bassett-Jones, N., & Lloyd, G.C. (2005).  Does Herzberg’s motivation theory have staying

          power?  The Journal of Management Development, 24(10), 929-943.  doi:  10.1108/02621710510627064

Dinibutun, S. R. (2012). Work motivation: Theoretical framework. GSTF Business Review

         (GBR), 1(4), 133-139. Retrieved from

         http://search.proquest.com.library.capella.edu/docview/1038956802?accountid=27965   

Neher, A. (1991).  Maslow’s theory of motivation:  A critique.  Journal of Humanistic

         Psychology, 31(3), 89–122.

Palmer, B.  (2005). Create individualized motivation strategies. Strategic HR Review, 4(3), 5.

        Retrieved from

        http://search.proquest.com.library.capella.edu/docview/217180260?accountid=27965

Get Your Geek On: Bloom’s Taxonomy

Bloom’s Taxonomy by Tracy Wilson

This post will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of Bloom’s taxonomy, how it can be used as a tool for writing, recognizing fallacies in one’s own writing, and applying the model for the purposes of finding credible sources.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Bloom’s Taxonomy

Granello (2001) provides a thorough explanation of Bloom’s taxonomy and how it can improve literature reviews.  One of the major strengths is that the model can be applied across disciplines and is not limited to literature reviews.  In fact, the model can be used outside of academia and applied to daily decision-making.   

Bloom’s taxonomy is also user-friendly.  It is easy to understand, but this could be a double-edged sword.  The simplistic, generalized nature could be seen as a weakness, especially when compared to Krathwohl’s (2002) revision where the model is broken down into smaller parts.

Lastly, the model could be seen as outdated.  The introduction of the model in 1956 makes it 61 years old.  That could deter many scholars, but Granello (2001) proved that the model is still applicable. 

Bloom’s Taxonomy as a Writing Tool

As a writing tool, Bloom’s taxonomy allows students to look at previously proposed issues, clarify those problems, find relationships in the research, recognize incongruence, fallacies, and even contribute new ideas for solving the problem (Granello, 2001).  For scholarly writing, one must go beyond simply repeating information.  The student must utilize the research, but ultimately he or she should relay more than just comprehension.  It is one thing to understand something, and it is an entirely different thing to be able to purposefully evaluate an issue, making room for new theories.

As a writer, understanding Bloom’s taxonomy will help me recognize gaps in my thinking.  By understanding each level of thinking, I can move beyond surface-level cognition and dig deeper.  After all, the ultimate goal is to contribute to my field of study. I cannot do that without reaching the highest level of thinking and applying it to my writing.

Evaluating Sources Using Bloom’s Taxonomy

            When a student can look at a source, draw their own conclusions, and make the distinction as to what is true research and what is biased opinion, they have stepped into a much larger world filled with endless possibilities (Granello, 2001).  As Granello (2001) pointed out, “Students who master the evaluative level recognize that there are certain preestablished criteria that are used to evaluate source writings” (p. 297).  Choosing sources that are reliable and valid are essential for scholarly writing.  By utilizing critical evaluation skills gained from Bloom’s taxonomy, it is much easier to navigate through all of the sources available for any subject area.  The ability to look at the research and find contradictions is essential in laying a foundation for research.    

     Some articles are written at a skeletal level.  They simply relay information or move through comprehension as the goal.  Articles that move passed that typically present methods, designs, outcomes, and evaluations.  They also apply the data.  By going deeper into the topic research, the writing demonstrates that the author(s) are thinking about thinking.  The goal is not just to present information and hope the reader will take something from it.  The objective is to relay information and present deeper cognitive consideration for the subject at hand.

Conclusion

In summary, Bloom’s taxonomy is an invaluable tool to students, but it can also provide direction for basic decision-making.  The model has far more strengths than weaknesses, and it can help scholars construct sound research papers.  The approach provides a framework for source evaluation as well, allowing students to choose the best research to expound upon and to pave the way for personal contributions to the field.

 

References

Granello, D. H. (2001). Promoting cognitive complexity in graduate written work: Using Bloom’s taxonomy as a pedagogical  

          tool to improve literature reviews.  Counselor Education & Supervision, 40(4), 292–307.  Retrieved from

          http://search.proquest.com.library.capella.edu/docview/201056583?accountid=27965    

Krathwohl, D. R. (2002). A revision of bloom’s taxonomy: An overview. Theory into Practice, 41(4), 212-215. Retrieved from

          http://search.proquest.com.library.capella.edu/docview/218799120?accountid=27965

Get Your Geek On: Doctoral Focus

Doctoral Focus written by Tracy Wilson

This posting will discuss why I enrolled in the Ph.D. program for Educational Psychology, what I am trying to become, and how I will accomplish my objective.

Why are You Here?

I have always been fascinated by human behavior.  I worked in the field of child welfare from 2005 until 2014.  My specialty was interviewing sexual abuse survivors and preparing them for court.  I also served as a mentor to new employees.  Due to the nature of my career, I enrolled at the University of North Dakota’s (UND) online Forensic Psychology Masters program in 2009 and graduated in 2011.  I was promoted to the director of the department and I thought that my graduate studies prepared me for catastrophe, but I was sadly mistaken when my unit faced a child abduction.  Child welfare lost its luster and I resigned.

In August 2015 I was offered an adjunct faculty position with my undergraduate alma mater and I have fallen in love with the profession.  With Capella, I chose Educational Psychology with a concentration in Psychology Teaching and Instruction because educating college students is my passion.

Learning methods in prominent contrast with past experiences

Each person learns differently, utilizing different skills sets to understand and implement concepts (Rolfe & Cheek, 2012).   My personal learning style involves a pen in my hand or keys at my fingertips.  I also integrate auditory and visual learning into the way I process information.  Additionally, collaboration with peers assists me in learning and retaining information.

The scholar-practitioner model has its roots in theory, research, and implementation (McClintock, 2004).  This model is somewhat new to me.  As a graduate student, I was taught theories proposed by others and applied them.  For example, during the onsite-capstone course at UND, my team was asked to compare and contrast Rape Trauma Syndrome and PTSD, choose which diagnoses we agreed with, and then present the rationale to the class.  We formed our argument based on current research but did not propose any new theories.  I am certain that the scholar-practitioner model is in stark contrast to my previous experiences.

What are you trying to become?

Attaining a Ph.D. will not only be a personal triumph, but tenure would finally be attainable and my dream of being a full-time educator at the college level would become a reality.  I will be an expert in my field and can make contributions to the educational community.  I would also be able to wield theory into practice as I continue teaching, assisting my students in reaching their own career goals.

I have always used a student-centered model and have recently incorporated a transfer-of-learning component.  I want to expound upon this by completing research examining whether the incorporation of transference skills actually enhances student performance.  As a doctoral learner, I can do that.

How Will You Accomplish You Goal?

To accomplish all of the above, I must prioritize.  In fact, I am trying to work weeks ahead in this course.  I make lists and plan accordingly.  When I check off something on the list, I move onto the next task.  The is one of the many strategies I employ to maintain focus.

Another way I will accomplish the goal of completing this program as well as to obtain a position in higher learning is to stay positive.  Within the last week, I have lost count as to how many times I have considered quitting the program.  However, when I stop, take a breath, and think, I see the big picture.  The only way I am going to obtain all of the things I see in that picture is to use determination and strength.

Time management will be essential for completing the Ph.D. program.  I also think that the lists I mentioned above tie into effective time management.  Sacrifices will have to be made.  I will have to allot time each day to focus on my studies.

For me, failure is not an option.  Although I have given thought to throwing in the towel already, I will not.  A Ph.D. is something I have talked about since I was in undergraduate school.  Now with a position in higher education already, I know that the path is clear.  Therefore, it is safe to say that courage and vision will also play a role in this process.

I will complete the required coursework for not only this course, but future courses.  Eventually, I will take my comps and then finish my dissertation.  The only way I can do this is to grab the determination that I know lies deep within.  Then, and only then, can I reach my ultimate goal of becoming a tenured professor.

In conclusion, embracing my personal experiences, understanding and using the scholar-practitioner model, knowing what the primary goal is, and having a plan to work toward it will empower me to be successful as I take this path.  The responsibility lies with me.  It will take time, patience, and commitment.  With the support of peers, instructors, family, and friends, I know that I can complete this journey successfully and then move forward in my career aspirations.

References

McClintock, C. (2004). Scholar practitioner model.  In A. Distefano, K. E. Rudestam, & R. J. Silverman

(Eds.), Encyclopedia of distributed learning (pp. 393–397). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Rolfe, A., & Cheek, B.  (2012).  Learning styles.  Innovait, 5(3), 176-181, doi:10.1093/innovait/inr239