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Archive for August, 2009

Checked off the list: RSH9101B

Monday, August 31st, 2009

I completed RSH9101B: Research Topic, Problem, Purpose and Questions and am ready for RSH9102B: Research Methods and Designs. I am thrilled with my grade in RSH9101B which keeps me at a 4.0.

Here is a step-through of RSH9101B by assignment:

Activity 1: Topic Selection Oh boy, when I opened the syllabus and looked at this assignment I knew I was in over my head. I actually thought that this course would help me to decide on my topic, but the first paper requires “initial thinking on potential research topics.” To write this paper, you have to have at minimum a certain topic to write about. Your paper cannot be a random search for a topic…you have to already have worked that out. Over the course of my work at NCU, I have been working on what I called THE LIST, which is a list of topics that I discovered while researching other topics or reading books. Well, THE LIST has over 50 entries. So I contacted a few past mentors and starting poking their brains, trying out some of those topics. My topic ended up relevant to supply chain rather than management. I work in the supply chain area at my employer plus I see supply chain as the linkage between management and industry. I scheduled a conference call with my mentor, Dr. R. She was a big encouragement when I needed it, for sure. Her counsel was to move through each activity and build on the previous and let the topic work its way through. She wrote on this paper, “I do wonder however, whether your topic as presented here is still a bit too large or broad for a dissertation study?…I think it’s helpful to think of a dissertation research study as a hole in the ground that is 2 inches wide and 1 mile deep – that is, narrowly defined, but deeply studied.” Great advice!

Activity 2: Research Problem Statement Development Before I started this paper, I read about 10 NCU dissertations and thought that I had the concept. Dr. R wrote in her feedback that I had included elements of both the problem statement and the purpose statement in my paper. It’s really funny that she also advised that I look at other dissertations in the NCU database to see how others delineated the problem vs purpose statements when I had already done that and gotten myself twisted up. I was confused because of reading other dissertations.

Activity 3: Begin Annotated Bibliography I totally overdid this assignment, which ended up being 30 pages long. I thought I had not done enough until I read comments on nculearner and spoke to other students who were turning in 10 pages or so.  Dr. R pointed out that I needed to add more “historical” research on my topic, but otherwise, my annotated bibliography was “comprehensive.” This assignment took me DAYS to do – not the writing – the research and reading all those papers and then pulling them together in a way that made sense.

Activity 4: Research Purpose Statement Still not clear on the purpose vs problem statement thing, I dove into this assignment. Dr. R’s criticism involved using “business lingo” in my writing although I was actually paraphrasing some leaders in the field. I really should have quoted the authors so it would not appear to be my own words. This paper was supposed to be 1-4 pages. When I finished writing, I had 8 so I started cutting and ended up with 4 pages. I was afraid that I was repeating myself (you know the drill, say it once, say it twice, then remind me you said it). I was going toward simplicity and clarity of thought for this activity, but after getting a 95%, I regret that I cut down the paper.

Activity 5: Development of Research Questions My lowest grade on any of the papers: 94%. I felt out of my league because I am still not totally not sure about whether to go with mixed, qualitative, or quantitative study. So I crafted this paper as heading quantitative, although my spirit says qualitative. I am going to do some more work on the direction of research. With this low grade, I questioned whether I was on the right track or not. Doubt is a big discourager.

Activity 6: Update Annotated Bibliography OK, back to what I do best…read and write. This activity built on the previous annotated bibliography. I took the liberty of putting my purpose and problem statement on the first page of the paper, described the topical breakdown (3 sections), and added “There are 59 reference cited and described, an increase of 15 from the first annotated bibliography. As requested, historical and foundational papers have been added which will be included in the abridged literature review (activity 7).” Ka-ching, 99% on this baby.

Activity 7: Abridged Literature Review By this point, I think maybe I am “getting” this thing. Is it possible to enjoy this? This paper starts with an introduction to the topic by way of pointing out its relevancy. I stated “A brief review of scholarly articles reveals the introduction and development of the concept of supply chain, traces the integration of supplier collaboration, the rise of corporate social responsibility (CSR), and the interweaving of sustainable initiatives.” Dr. R pointed out inconsistent verb tenses in my paper, which partly resulted from reading academic papers with unbelievably random tense and trying to maintain their tense.

Activity 8: Topic Paper This is the big kahuna paper in this class, worth 20/100 points, and I sparkled when I got a 99%. The Topic Paper includes an Introduction, Abridged Literature Review, Problem Statement, Purpose Statement, Research Questions, and Summary. I know the simplest way to describe this assignment is to say it is the collection of all the previous assignments in the course, that that is not wholly true. I couldn’t just patchwork together all the papers-to-date and have it make logical sense. I would have had significant repetition, plus I had also done lots of research and developed the topic significantly with every paper. I got fancy and added two figures from two foundational academic papers. Marginal comments from Dr. R included some that stated that I had done a good job, others that asked for clarity. I did not use all of the references I had up to this point; I had 38 references in the Topic Paper when I finished. I could not have been happier than when I read, “This is a well done topic paper. It is thoughtful and well organized, and clearly written throughout. Your APA formatting is strong overall, and I am pleased with how much ground you have covered during this course. You are well positioned to continue onto your dissertation study.” YIPPEE!

CautionCOURSE CAUTION: Overall, RSH9101B was not the “dissertation discovery and development” course I thought it was. Do not enter this course door unless you have a pretty good idea of what your topic is. There is no time to flounder around looking for a dissertation topic.

Now, on to RSH9102B. I’ve seen the syllabus and it is S C A R Y !

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NCU named “2010 Military Friendly” School

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

I read today on the Northcentral University website that G.I. Jobs magazine will include NCU in their Guide to Military Schools, which will be published in September 2009. I think this is a great honor! The news release states that this recognition ranks NCU in the top 15% of universities. Go NCU Roadrunners!

I am thankful for the service and sacrifice of our military men and women. As the wife of a Navy vet, I understand some of the issues that families must face. As an instructor, I see quite a few soldiers and vets in class, especially when I taught at the University of Phoenix in Columbus, GA. The flexibility of online asynchronous learning often meets the needs of military learners. If you are a student wishing to complete his/her education, consider online or distance learning. There are many schools with excellent programs and tuition discounts. Military service coupled with education makes a very hire-able employee!

Abridged literature review

Monday, August 17th, 2009

I turned in RSH9101B Activity 7 Abridged Literature Review to Dr. R today, having worked on it some over the weekend and some today. I think the hardest part was consolidating the ideas into one whole and having it make sense.

First, I provided an overview, sort of like an introduction to the topic. I was not sure if this was “how” to do the abridged lit review, but to me it made sense to identify how the topic has moved from simply being fashionably green to being academically green

In the overview, I indicated that attention to the topic was found as far back as Malthus’ 1798 An Essay on the Population in which he considered the influence of rising population on society. I mentioned Rachel Carson’s 1962 book Silent Spring and The Limits to Growth (1972). A report entitled Our Common Future from the World Commission on Environment and Development (1987) outlined one of the most-quoted and earliest definitions of the concept of sustainable development. I then introducted the triple bottom line (3BL) proposed by John Elkington in 1994, and later developed in 1997’s Cannibals with Forks.

My overarching sentence to pull the topic together is:

A brief review of scholarly articles reveals the introduction and development of the concept of supply chain, traces the integration of supplier collaboration, the rise of corporate social responsibility (CSR), and the interweaving of sustainable initiatives.

Then I jumped right into discussion peer-reviewed articles regarding supply chain, collaboration, CSR, and sustainability, relating those topics to my proposed dissertation study. I am pleased with my kicker sentences (the last few sentences).

The assignment states the paper should be 2-5 pages in length – but a lit review like that would have to be super-abridged. Mine was 8 pages and to honest I could have easily done 8 more. As a matter of fact, once I got going it was really hard to stop and conclude logically.

The next assignment is the Topic Paper, in which the parts are assembled into the whole. Essentially, I take what I have done already in RSH9101-B, fix the things Dr. R recommended (including comments in the abridged lit review she is grading now), and pull it together into one Topic Paper. Right now, I am more concerned about whether a table of contents is required or not!

Here’s the syllabus verbiage for Activity 8 Topic Paper, 20 points:

Assemble and submit your topic paper. Use the sample outline to assemble an introduction, abridged literature review, problem statement, purpose statement, research questions, and summary.

Topic Paper (Components and Order)
Abridged Literature Review
Problem Statement
Purpose Statement
Research Questions

In developing the topic paper, review and as necessary, update your problem statement, purpose statement, and research questions to reflect your current perspectives and understanding of the problem, purpose, and research questions. The topic paper should reflect a clear and logical linkage among the problem, purpose, and research questions.

Reasons why getting your PhD is like “Lost”

Friday, August 14th, 2009
  • You’re broke, hungry, stranded and stuck in one giant mystery
  • The view never changes
  • Sometimes your life depends on finding a constant
  • Somehow you end up working for the guy you hate the most
  • There is a crazy woman who has been here for 16 years
  • If you’re in the lab long enough, taller ghost walt materializes out of nowhere and says “you’ve got work to do”
  • Every problem that you solve brings up 10 new problems
  • When (if) you leave, all you want to do is go back
  • You’re pretty sure you’re in hell

                                   —- copied 

RSH9101B Updated Annotated Bibliography

Monday, August 10th, 2009

Over the weekend I completed and turned in Activity 6, the updated annotated bibliography. This document was 40 pages long. The purpose of the annotated bibliography is to collect sources that will be used in the dissertation. According to the syllabus, it is “a foundational piece that will be useful as you develop your literature review. Each annotation should include the purpose, method, and key findings of the study.”

Several of my sources were not academic papers, as I am writing on a very current topic. However, I had many peer-reviewed articles and papers so those I was able to identify the purpose, method, and key findings. Sometimes there were headings to identify this information, and sometimes I had to really hunt through looking for methods.

I really like ScienceDirect because most of the papers from there have a mini-outline at the very beginning, so you can tell in a flash if the paper is relevant or not. Sometimes I would select a paper based on the abstract and find out that the data or information was not applicable to my research.

Activity 6 is a second pass at an annotated bibliography – and after all the hours I spent reading for the first one, I did it again plus more for the second one! I had 59 total sources, 15 more than the first pass. All of the 15 were academic, and about half were historical. Dr. R had pointed out that I did not have enough in the historical to build a foundation for the lit review in my first annotated bibliography.

Activity 7 is an abridged literature review, and tonight I have been reviewing Chapter 2 in Creswell’s text Research Design. Well, I say “have been” but that implies nothing else. As a matter of fact, here is what I did this evening after coming home from work:

  1. watched a few minutes of NatGeo about catching big fish (husband was watching this)
  2. cut up a tomato for supper and got the plates ready (husband grilled out)
  3. ate supper (yummy) while watching NatGeo show about a new high-tech prison in MD
  4. did not finish watching show; I wandered off after eating
  5. called a student who had left a message earlier in the day regarding a question about an assignment
  6. another student called me with a question, we discussed the Learning Team Charter
  7. responded to posts in the University OLS for GEN200 (I am teaching just one class right now)
  8. checked personal emails
  9. refunded money through PayPal to an eBayer who returned an item he said did not work (ouch): I will have to check to see if it works or not this weekend
  10. answered several questions on AllExperts.com, where I am a continuing education and distance learning “Expert”; tonight’s questions were assorted, including one about a veteran returning to college
  11. watched video highlighting new Avon distribution center in Zanesville (loved it, I am a sucker for inventory management)
  12. asked husband to watch Zanesville video with me; he declined, obviously not as excited about machinery and inventory as I am
  13. read nculearner Yahoo group posts
  14. checked Associated Content account for page views; disappointed in a few articles I had believed to be evergreen
  15. read posts in NCU Learner Portal; of interest is one that reveals that it may make sense to take time between a few of the Diss track classes to refine the paper, rather than jump into the next course immediately (consdering this…is this something that would be good for me?
  16. wrassled with Tucker and Charlie (our dogs)
  17. re-read the syllabus for RSH9101B, and designed a timetable for last two assignments (#7 & #8) which must be in by end of the course date of 08/24
  18. used 5 minutes to organize the abridged literature review (#7) in my head, reconsidering the arrangement that I had come up with yesterday (flash reviewing an assignment before I start on it helps me organize)
  19. located which chapter in Creswell related to the literature review (I had read the book twice already, but need to review this topic again)
  20. re-scanned chapter 2 in Creswell
  21. worked on this blog post

I know that some of you wonder how I get everything done; you can see that I don’t watch much TV or sit around not working. If I am just sitting, then I am thinking and planning. It’s 10PM now, and I will finish out the night by logging off the computer, setting out my clothes for tomorrow, and reading for a few minutes before turning off the light. And I get to do it all over again tomorrow. Good night!

NCU to participate in Title IV: Do the math!

Saturday, August 8th, 2009

Great news for those considering NCU! An August 4, 2009 press release indicates that Northcentral University has received confirmation of certification from the United States Department of Education to participate in the Federal Student Financial Assistance Programs authorized by Title IV of the Higher Education Act (Title IV, HEA Program). This means that students can apply for federal student aid programs.

Many students need financial aid to fund their education. Previously, all financial aid at NCU was through private lenders such as Wells Fargo. Students can now fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and be considered for federal financial aid. This is welcome news for those considering NCU. If you have any questions, contact the NCU financial aid office at 888-327-2877 extension 8080.

Does it make sense to get a degree? Absolutely! Do the math…here are three Value of a College Degree calculators:

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Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

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Rainy day in Virginia

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

After a gorgeous day yesterday, today is utterly rainy. In yesterday’s Virgina sunshine, Husband and I floated carelessly in the pool and chatted about life and love and anything else that came to mind. I held onto his float with mine side-by-side and we drifted together around and around. I lead a very busy life as a wife, mother, manager, student, and professor, so these mini-vacations keep me refreshed and centered on the important things in life.

Today is different – I am working. I am taking this rainy-day opportunity to catch up on some paperwork. I track my sales and earnings for my Avon business, but got behind a little bit working on assignments for RSH9101B. Friday was payday and I’m parcelling out those funds/paying bills. In addition, I had several student questions to answer regarding the class I am teaching at the University of Phoenix, GEN200. Last Wednesday was their first night of class.

This group is a mixture of adults returning to school to earn credits to graduate and those who have never been to college. Learning how to navigate the Online Learning System (OLS) can be a challenge for those not familiar with computers. Figuring out how to upload an attachment may sound easy to you – but if you have never done it, it can be difficult. In GEN200, we work on basic skills such as how to study, navigate the OLS including posting assignments, setting goals, writing essays, and basic APA. I love working with students that are excited about learning and growing. I wish I could condense all of my tips, tricks, and advice on how to succeed in school! It is certainly overwhelming to new students to step into a college classroom where you are now responsible for your own success.

I wonder if those who have walked the PhD path ahead of me feel the same way about me. Am I fresh-faced and eager like my students in GEN200? Is there a feeling of familial companionship, shadowing and guiding my steps to my goal? Do the seasoned PhD vets nod their heads and smile knowingly when I am puzzled by an assignment or fail to interpret its purpose? Over the years I have answered tons of questions from readers and co-learners. Will I be able to encourage those walking this trail after I have reached my goal? How many others will I be able to pull along with me to success?

Are you considering a terminal degree or just if you should return to school at all? The answer is consider life without this particular challenge…is that acceptable to you? If not, then jump onto the path and follow me. And everyone who has gone before us.