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

 

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