Educational Journey

January 27, 2012

The Journey

Filed under: General — Cyndy @ 3:37 pm

It is fascinating to reread these earlier posts about my dissortation topic exploration. Currently, I am only two classes and one comprehensive exam away from beginning my dissertation. And, fF\inally, I have a dissertation topic: drumroll please ….

I plan to study first-generation students, how they make their career choices and how that effects their persistence.

I am completely fascinated with the subject of first-generation students. I love reading everything published about this group. In particular, I have enjoyed discovering the work of Dr. Peter Collier from Portland State University. I recently had a conversation with him about my studies, and he suggested that I concentrate my efforts on art students. I had not intended to do this; however, the more I think about it, the more sense it makes. This would fill a gap in the literature and has the potential to uncover new insights into the lives of first-generation students.

I am excited to explore this new direction for my topic. I have some work to do, rethinking my research question and framing the entire study, but I’m up for the task.


August 1, 2011

Texting in class

Filed under: General,Personal challenges — Cyndy @ 7:24 pm

As a teacher and a student, I can certainly see both sides of this dilemma. As a student it is difficult to pay attention for long periods of time when a professor drones on about something. In these situations, I begin to look for ways to distract my mind. A handy cell phone is a quick and easy fix for my need to check out.

On the other hand, as a professor there is constant struggle to keep student’s attention.  In this age of massive information, attention spans are weakening. Students are used to taking small pieces of information from various sources, but not necessarily used to staying on topic and discovering something in depth. It may be difficult to pay attention for long periods of time, but it is a skill that can be developed and is beneficial to the student.

 In order to better facilitate the learning of this skill among my students, I plan to incorporate some “spot quizzes” into my lectures. Breaking up my lectures with time for the students to reflect on he material and re-frame it into their own words may help them focus. It will also hold them accountable for paying attention and maybe they will put down the cell phones without my constant nagging.



August 5, 2010

Aha moment – online learning

Filed under: General,What I learned today! — Cyndy @ 5:03 pm

Through my own experience with online education, I have come to have a greater understanding of the needs of myself as a learner. Although I may never have admitted it before, social interaction is a key element of the learning experience. As a natural introvert, I tend avoid much social interaction and prefer to do most of my learning by myself. At least, I thought I did. As MacKerarcher (2004) explains in her interpretation of Kolb’s learning theory, the learning cycle consist of four phases, which each individual uses with tendencies toward efficiencies or inefficiencies of those phases. The active experimentation phase includes sharing new ideas with others and asking questions to clarify meanings. I am most inefficient in this area. Additionally, this is the area that online programs have difficulty facilitating.

I have taken online instruction from two universities now. Both have included some attempt to incorporate social interaction into the program. One incorporated a large component of team-based assignments while the other incorporated field experience assignments. Both models have pros and cons. Overall, the most important element lacking in both programs was an understanding of the importance of this element of learning and assistance to the student in facilitating the experience and overcoming the challenges.


MacKeracher, D. (2004).  Making sense of adult education. (pp. 71-91). University of Toronto Press: Toronto Canada.

July 24, 2010

Learning about learning

Filed under: General,What I learned today! — Cyndy @ 4:20 pm

Learning about learning is so insightful. I don’t know why we don’t spend more time teaching students to be more efficient learners, and teachers to be more aware of various learning strategies that students use. I am digging into Kolb’s model of learning styles dealing with abstract vs. concrete dimensions of learning and active vs. reflective dimensions of learning. My own learning and teaching styles suddenly makes sense. I can be a better learner and a better teacher now.

April 26, 2010

Online education

Filed under: General,What I learned today! — Cyndy @ 3:38 pm

With positive experiences in online education, I have not carefully paid attention to its weaknesses until recently. As I move further into my pursuit of a doctoral degree, I wish to have more satisying conversations about class topics than can be accomplished in an asynchronous environment. Each student is required to post two “substantial” replies to other student’s response to discussion questions. A typical response generally follows this pattern: I agree with you. You stated, ” … ” That is so important. If anyone dares to pose a question or disagree, a response is unlikely as the class has moved on to the next question and the next week’s requirement.

Additionally, in an online environment student’s all see each other’s work. While this could be a motivator for some students, I generally see it as a reminder that I work way too hard. I certainly do not want to sound arrogant; however, some of my class mates would not pass my undergraduate classes if they were to submit similar work. I do not know what grades these students get in their doctoral classes, but they continue to submit poor work so I assume they are passing. This leads me to wonder if this degree really means anything?

Online education is convenient. It brings education to those who might not otherwise get an education, but it has some serious weaknesses that need attention.

One Step Closer

Another course is over, and I am one step closer. At this point, I am unofficially pursuing a dissertation study in the policies and procedures that suppport academic honesty. From what I have learned so far, academic dishonesty is prevelant at all levels of education and colleges deal with it in dramatically different yet equally ineffective ways. would like to better understand the problem so that colleges can implement better systems. In light of the growing online academic trend, this is an important topic.

October 29, 2009

Let the Journey begin again

Filed under: General — Cyndy @ 3:59 pm

It is not without some fear and sincere reconsideration that I once again embark upon this great challenge.

“Why am I here?”

“What am I trying to accomplish?”

“Is it going to be worth it?”

I have been asking myself these questions repeatedly. My conclusion: “I don’t know.” For now, it’s off to the land of insane amounts of homework, crazy reading, and more discussions of NCLB.

September 29, 2009

Student Teams

Filed under: Dissertation Topic Exploration,General — Tags: — Cyndy @ 5:11 pm

Student teams … an effective teaching method or not. Is the educational experience enhanced with team projects, or does it simply add to the frustration and create a negative experience for many. Do enough students benefit from student teams to warrant the use of teams? Is it necessary to have student teams so that students will be better prepared for the real world work environment? Can student teams really reflect the real world work environment?

So many questions to ponder. More insights to these questions after I have spent some time contemplating.

If anyone out there wants to share their personal experiences working in student teams, I would love to hear it.

June 23, 2009


Filed under: General,Personal challenges — Cyndy @ 2:58 pm

Much earned vacation begins NOW!

June 19, 2009

The topic

Filed under: General — Cyndy @ 2:03 pm

After finishing my final paper in W7000, I have decided that I am starting to like my topic. It would make an interesting and valuable dissertation topic. My final research question: What is the dominant preferred learning style of design students within each chosen major?

The purpose of the study is  to determine if there is a relationship between learning styles of students and the major chosen in an art college.

When I began at Ai, and throughout my career there, I have heard teachers say that most of the students are visual learners. From my experience, I do not believe this is true. Especially with the diverse programs being offered. I would like to dispel this myth once and for all and give teachers something accurate to guide their teaching styles.

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