Saturday, December 8, 2012

OpenComps: Candidate Status Unlocked. Loading Next Level...

I'm more than a week tardy in reporting this, but my oral examination went well and I've transitioned from "PhD student" to "PhD candidate." In other words, I passed my comprehensive exams. Apparently the title isn't universal (I've heard some schools progress you from "candidate" to "Candidate," changing only the capitalization), but what it means is that my focus and responsibility shifts away from coursework and onto my own research.

Normally this means I'd be taking few, if any, classes next semester and working on a prospectus. But as luck would have it, the School of Education is chock-full of great course offerings in the spring. So I'll be taking a full slate of courses: Language Issues in Education Research, Research on Teaching and Teacher Education, and Advanced Topics in Mathematics Education. Throw in our departmental seminar and the five dissertation hours we're required to carry each semester, and it looks like I'll be scheduled for 15 credit hours. Which is a lot for a doctoral student, er, candidate.

Realistically, this means my prospectus will probably wait until summer. That shouldn't be an inconvenience. It's going to take me a while to focus in on a research question anyway, and I think a combination of working on Bill Penuel's Inquiry Hub project and taking the Research on Teaching and Teacher Education class with Dan Liston and Jennie Whitcomb will give me plenty to think about. I am very interested in issues of research to practice, which means I need to look more at Paul Cobb's latest work, Cynthia Coburn's work, and keep working with Bill on Design-Based Implementation Research. I also want to learn more about how and why teachers modify their curriculum, which means getting up-to-date with the work of people like Janine Remillard and Corey Drake. The better I understand the current boundaries of work in these areas, the better I'll know what direction my work should go.