Building Upon What Your Learned in Year One

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Building Upon What Your Learned in Year One

Post by KevinAndrewRRichards on Sun Nov 01, 2015 2:14 pm

Kelly and Angela

I hope you are enjoying your third semester and graduate school! Through our discussions thus far you seem to have been learning a great deal about yourselves and the process of becoming an academic through your graduate education. In this post, I am hoping that you will discuss three things: (1) During this semester, how are you building upon what you learned last year as you continue to learn and grow as a master's degree student, (2) please describe one positive, critical incident that you have experienced as a graduate student this semester, and (3) please describe one challenge you have experienced this semester that relates to your life in graduate school.

Beyond these three discussion points, please feel free to ask any questions that you have for Karen and I




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Re: Building Upon What Your Learned in Year One

Post by Angela_Chambers on Sat Jan 23, 2016 10:16 am


I apologize that it has taken this long to respond to your questions related to our third semester. Kelly and I hope you and your wife are doing well.

1) During this semester, how are you building upon what you learned last year as you continue to learn and grow as a master’s degree student?

    This past semester was a huge learning experience in relation to research. My original data collection for my Thesis occurred during the summer session. Throughout this process, I consistently identified things that were horribly wrong with my study design and collection procedures. For example, I had students in activity courses fill out the Short- IPAQ form related to PA outside of the activity courses. Well, these students were coming to their activity courses every day, so they didn’t need to be physically activity outside of that time because they were getting the recommended amounts. After identifying things to change, I decided to give data collection another try during the fall semester. This semester it went much smoother, and even during this trial I learned some things. Students this semester only had their activity courses two to three times a week, so as you can guess the students were logging that they participated in more PA (which I now realize is probably a pretty cool idea to report). I now feel capable of designing quality studies similar in nature, and this experience has now given me the ability to analyze studies that I have read based on their design structure.
    This semester was mostly devoted to my Thesis, but I did take one class. This class was Curriculum Content in Physical Education. Although, there were several individuals interested in coaching and athletic training, so the content expanded to those other areas. Since coming to graduate school, I do feel like I have a greater understanding of the athletic training and coaching fields because of the diversity in our program at LSU. Having this knowledge provides me with a greater understanding of the field of Kinesiology as a whole, and I feel like if I were ever put in a position to advocate for Kinesiology, I could do so.

2) Please describe one positive, critical incident that you have experienced as a graduate student this semester that relates to your life in graduate school.

    I think many of our discussions previously have eluded to the fact that a large part of how I define myself is through my teaching capability. This semester in KIN 2577, Physical Education for the Elementary School, I had the students provide feedback on their final test. They were asked what they would change about the class and what they would keep. While reading through the feedback, several of the students indicated how much they learned this past semester, and that I helped open their eyes to quality physical education. Reading these types of statements helps me feel confident in my teaching capabilities and like I am making a difference as a teacher.

    In terms of being an actual student, this past semester Dr. Garn asked Kelly and me to present material to the other graduate students in a class we were taking while he was away at a conference. This course was on curriculum in physical education and other Kinesiology related fields. Garn asking us to present material made me feel highly competent and valued as a graduate student. It makes me feel like my knowledge is valued in this content area, and that I am at a somewhat similar level of expertise in the area. As a grad student this is wonderful because it provides a sense of collegiality and respect versus the traditional teacher, student atmosphere that highlights one individual as the sole provider of knowledge. Personally, collegiality and respect increase my motivation to learn from someone.  

3) Please describe one challenge you have experienced this semester that relates to your life in graduate school.

    One challenge that I came across this past semester was related to writing a literature review about incorporating technology into the physical education curriculum. Now, I know what you are thinking. Why am I encountering a challenge in relation to writing about a topic that I am highly interested in? I had to ask myself the same question. Every time I tried to write this document, I encountered a very high and uncomfortable level of stress. This may have been due to a couple of factors. The first factor is that no one takes the time to really teach you the process of writing a literature review in graduate school, so perhaps I just don’t know this process. Next, I feel as though if you love what you do, then the related activities come easily and are fun, and writing this document did not come easy and was not fun or enjoyable. By analyzing how I felt about activities I participated in related to graduate school, I came to realize that what came easily and what I truly enjoyed was teaching and applying the research that I read in the classroom setting. This realization has for the time being changed my mind about the pursuit of a Doctorate, as I have decided to graduate in May with a Master’s Degree and search for a physical education teaching position in Baton Rouge.

    Another challenge came when Garn told me that he would be leaving for Australia almost immediately. At that moment, we had not even looked at my Thesis data. This was a scary moment because I had no idea what on earth I was doing in terms of analysis! Thankfully he took out an afternoon just before he left to help me analyze the data, but because this was done so quickly, I still don’t fully understand the statistics and process used. The only thing that I comprehended were the significant findings. The rest is a mystery. Due to this experience, I know that I am severely lacking in my statistical knowledge. I also feel somewhat shortchanged because the process was flown through.


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Re: Building Upon What Your Learned in Year One

Post by Kelly_Simonton on Sat Jan 23, 2016 10:19 am

1. I think one area that I have been able to build upon are my expectations related to my graduate courses. Last year I didn’t know what to expect and there were some particular skills like, writing and understanding research, that I needed to become more proficient at. The process year to year, even semester to semester has been a gradual progression of skills and understanding of graduate school but as well as our profession and kinesiology as a whole (that’s the focus at our school). We have continued to build relationships in our department and shadow great professionals and learn about higher academia. I really wish I would have done more investigation into higher education before I got to graduate school, just to be more aware of the graduate process and getting a better sense for what to expect, simply to not feel out of the loop sometimes. But I have developed a better sense and understand it more and my time thus far has confirmed my decision to shoot for a PhD and remain in academia.
2. There are two positive moments that come to mind for me this semester. The first was my thesis proposal that I gave to my committee toward the middle of my semester. I had put in a lot of work to build my foundation of what I wanted investigate because I wasn’t familiar with the literature beforehand. The positive aspect was the presentation itself, I received good feedback from my committee about my model and my approach, which felt really good. It was my first opportunity to present my work and demonstrate an area where I have a little more experience. This presentation was also a confirmation to myself that I was doing the right thing and that I was going down the correct path. After a year and a half of courses, feedback only coming in class on course work, it was good to know that I was learning and progressing how I was supposed to. I don’t expect my advisor or others in my department to be over my shoulder and I do ask a lot of questions, but to have a tangible (like a proposal) and all it required were some minor changes. The other positive was another confirmation of my work, probably examples of my intrinsic as well as my extrinsic motivation toward graduation/career. I have worked hard on becoming a better writer and on the final paper I wrote in my pedagogy based course my feedback was, this is the best paper you have wrote since thus far. I liked it but it meant more that I was doing what I needed to do to be successful. There will always been areas that need critiqued and reworked and that doesn’t always represent a good or bad paper, but after edits and reworking it was good to know those things were done correctly.
3. I also experienced two challenging events, one at the beginning of the semester and one at the end. The first was the beginning of my thesis work. My advisor was out of the country toward the end of summer and I began my background research for my thesis. That’s what I was instructed to do, I know what that meant, but I didn’t know where to start or what he would expect. I put in about three weeks of work and came up with some bullet points and typed a few pages of information that I would send my advisor over email for him to help with guidance. This went back and forth for nearly a month. Then a little into the first semester he actually told me what the important facts to look for and how to progress the information or structure of the information. I was frustrated at that moment because I felt if he would have taken time months before that read what I wrote and give me that information in the beginning I would have utilized my time a lot more effectively and would have completed the proposal sooner and wouldn’t have been so all over the place with my reading and research. This is a reiteration with many of the things I have mentioned in these discussion and posts as the things that are negative or that I haven’t liked about graduate school, that being the assumptions that I know what graduate is school is about or what I should be doing, when I don’t always know. And the other thing being the lack of initial instruction and structure that I wish we had some times. I really enjoy my advisor and again, I am a graduate student and a little lower on the totem pole, I will continue to ask questions and ask peers about their experiences. That leads to the second significant event, my advisor left at the end of my third semester to take a job in another country. While I respect his decision and as a person I support what he thought was best for him, academically for me it has been very difficult. Besides all the paperwork to switch advisors and transfer my information to another professor, I am literally in the middle of my thesis, where I am analyzing data and finalizing a write up to be edited and discussed with my advisor. Knowing my experience with the long distance advising at the beginning of the semester I was very concerned about the process now as I finish my thesis document. This also affected my decision to move forward at this institution because the purpose for coming here was based on the advisor and a major part of my decision to continue to my PhD was also based on the relationship I built with my advisor. Thankfully the relationships I developed with others in the department paid off and I have decided to still continue with school here and work with a respected tenured professor, who was willing to help me and shares my vision of what I want my outcome in the experience to be.


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