Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Brief Interview with M. Sencer Corlu

This week, I had the opportunity to chat with Texas A&M University’s Division C campus liaison- future doctor M. Sencer Corlu. Sencer is studying mathematics education and anticipates graduating in December 2011. The following is a summary of our conversation.

How many years have you been a Division C Campus Liaison?
I’ve been holding this responsibility since March, 2011.
Are you involved in any other activities in AERA?My first contact with AERA was during the annual meeting in 2009. Since then, AERA journals and meetings have become my premier source to learn more about educational research; how it is done and how it is disseminated at the top level.

What is the best part about serving and participating in AERA Division C?It provides me the opportunity to get to know the people from other institutions and learn more about their work to keep up-to-date. As much as my research is driven by my own interests and background as a mathematician and international educator, I also need to develop a wider perspective by following the current trends in education as a young scholar. Division C gathers the top educators in learning and instruction and works as an excellent venue to make new connections for possible interdisciplinary projects with a focus on learning and instruction. I believe learning is no longer bounded by a single academic division in our era of innovation. A holistic learning environment can be best achieved through instructional practices that combine perspectives from multiple disciplines. Serving division C also helps me have a rapport among my fellow Aggies at Texas A&M, with whom I am hoping to work for long years after I graduate.

Are there any special AERA activities that occur at your school?Several departments at Texas A&M College of Education organize events and workshops to inform us about the latest changes in AERA standards on reporting research and ethical conducts, as well as how to submit proposals to annual meetings. Many professors and research centers also work in collaboration with the graduate students and they hold pre- and post-annual meetings to evaluate and share their experiences.

Did you attend AERA 2011 and if so, what was your experience like?
I did attend AERA 2011, and I very much benefited from it. Over the course of the years, I believe I have managed to make more out of it each year as my skills have expanded as a young mathematics educator. This year in particular, I not only had the opportunity to present two papers but also to talk to top researchers in my field, and to develop connections with representatives of research institutions concerning my post-graduation plans.

Please describe your research interests.My research interests are shaped very much by my background as an international mathematics and science teacher. I am interested in curriculum integration and teacher education from a post-modern perspective and in particular, mathematics and science correlation in learning and instruction. I focus on quantitative research methods but also have a keen interest in naturalistic inquiry and ethnography.

Have you published or presented research this year?This year has been the most productive year in my short career as a young scholar. Two of my manuscripts have been published in SCI journals, and in another one, I collaborated with my colleagues at Texas A&M, in Turkey, China and Korea, which appeared in a respected international journal. As for presentations, besides AERA 2011, I also presented (and co-presented) our research on mathematics and science integration at the NCTM research Pre-session and Psychology of Mathematics Education meetings.

What are your professional goals for when you complete your degree?With the ultimate goal of having a broad impact in mathematics education and being remembered as an inspirational teacher, I feel the best place to help me achieve my goals would be academia. Thus, I will be seeking a professorship position in hopes of making a significant contribution to the learning and instruction of mathematics.

Is there a book or article that has helped you during your doctoral studies?Besides the APA Manual and my other holy book, I frequently cite and read over and over again two books: Alfred Whitehead’s Aims of Education (1929) and Dr. Paul Ernest’s Social Constructivism as a Philosophy of Mathematics. Methodology-wise, I must have two books near me all times: Our very owns’, Dr. Bruce Thompson’s Foundations of Behavioral Statistics and Dr. Yvonne Lincoln’s Naturalistic Inquiry books. AggieStem Center’s Project-based Learning and Dr. Kilpatrick’s Research Companion are also two of my favorite books in my field.

Do you have any interesting hobbies or activities that you participate in outside of your graduate program?
I have traveled extensively in the past across the globe before coming to US for the graduate school. I still take a weekend runaway from time to time to do some horseback riding with my mates or simply wander around and take photographs. I still don’t see a better way to enjoy life other than an intelligent conversation.

Meet Iowa State’s Yasemin Demiraslan Cevik

Yasemin is a doctoral candidate at Iowa State University. Yasemin shared that she was interested in black and white photography, drawing, and oil painting. However, her interest in the activities did not last long. Her more recent hobbies include reading “The Scientific American Mind” and watching foreign movies. Yasemin is studying Curriculum and Instruction and eagerly anticipates graduating in August 2011!

Yasemin’s research interests include examining and understanding reasoning and decision making in the context of teacher education. She is currently investigating theoretically different instructional methods (e.g., case-based reasoning and worked example) and their effects on learners’ decision making. She most recently presented a paper related to her dissertation research at the AECT 2010 conference and is in the process of preparing three manuscripts as a result of her dissertation work. She anticipates that the manuscripts will be submitted for peer review in the near future.

In addition to her studies, Yasemin has actively served as a campus liaison since September 2009. She believes that serving as a campus liaison helped her to grow professionally by providing opportunities to build strong connections with people in her field. Yasemin has reviewed AERA conference proposals for several Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and Division C. Yasemin shared that there are many benefits of being a liasion. However, one of the best opportunities included getting up-to-date information about Division C activities, sharing this information with fellow graduate students, and playing a leadership role during this process of information sharing.

After the completion of her doctoral work, Yasemin will be working as a faculty member in the Department of Computer Education and Instructional Technology at Hacettepe University, Turkiye. In the long term, she hopes to be an innovative member of the community of researchers interested in developing ideas regarding using instructional technology to bring important changes to teaching and learning.

Friday, July 1, 2011

PhD-Journey Navigators: Exemplar 1 - Jonathan Bostic

Success in PhD studies requires more than just overcoming an intellectual challenge. Completing the journey entails the development of several qualities, a never-say-die mindset and several disciplined practices. Today, we spotlight an exemplar of doctoral journey navigators, Dr. Jonathan Bostic, our former Division C Senior Co-Chair (2010-11).  Congratulations again, Dr. Bostic! He shares with us his experience in maneuvering the journey and the critical social, mental and physical factors that helped him triumph over setbacks.

•    Laser-Sharp focus

"Stay focused throughout your graduate studies. This means foregoing fun activities at times and instead, waking up early or staying up late to read manuscripts or craft a manuscript."

Note: Each student will have his/her individual study habits – night bird vs. early bird. Getting up early AND staying up late is not advised, :).

•    Necessary short breaks

"I always took time over holidays to visit extended family. I also went on a summer vacation each year. I regularly took time to meet with friends each week."

Note: When these breaks occurred, I made certain to be in the moment. Try not to divide your time between family and graduate school, but instead focus on one activity at a time.

•    Holistic health

"I also worked out regularly. A healthy body supports a strong scholarly mind."

•    Goal-setting: Daily and annual

"Set small goals each day and larger goals throughout the year. Each day, I set out to accomplish a few tasks (read three articles, write a few good pages on the dissertation, etc.). (Dr. Dale Schunk spoke on this topic at an AERA Fireside Chat in 2010).

"I wrote an academic goal list/description at the beginning of each year and updated it throughout the year. Later, I shared it with my advisor and other faculty to assist me in meeting my goals. This type of activity shows others your commitment."

•    Relationships

"Develop a robust network of friends and colleagues who are reliable and dependable as well as diverse. I had friends and colleagues in several departments within the College of Education who I could turn to for ideas and support including Research and Evaluation Methods, Educational Technology, Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Pyschology, and Special Education. Also, I relished interacting with graduate students and scholars from other departments and universities. This kept my mind open and helped me work on my dissertation.”

"It's important to have a strong person/family/group/friend(s) who can support you throughout your program. My wife is my biggest supporter; my success is directly related to her support. My single friends have a deep network of friends and family they rely on. This support is such a critical factor in determining whether you will be successful in graduate school."

•    Be humble and open-minded

"Keep an open mind and kindly accept criticism. I’m often wrong and accept others' opinions with no issues. Some feedback can be hard to take, especially when it comes to your writing. Sincerely thank the person who provided feedback. The most important thing anyone can give another person is his/her time." 

•   Read avidly

"Become an avid reader. Read journal articles, book chapters, and conference proceedings and try to make connections between works in your subject area and others. I read a lot of Educational Psychology and Mathematics Education literature trying to make sense of problem solving. There were opportunities where I saw ways to make links between the fields, which supported me to conduct investigations."

•   Connect across disciplines

"Try to look for and form connections with your ideas where there are gaps or missing links in your field(s). This is the way to conduct and publish your research. I saw a gap (or several of them!) in the literature and worked on that area for my dissertation. There were times when some commented that it was unoriginal, but I defended my research and went forward with it. At my dissertation defense, I had many faculty tell me how original my work was and that it was current, in light of the Common Core State Standards. With that in mind, develop a good dissertation/research topic and ground it in a strong review of the literature."

•    Smile and enjoy your work

"It's hard work being a researcher, yet it's also a cool profession. Many people told me that they noticed I was always smiling; it made their day and showed others how much I enjoyed my work."

•    Develop good writing habits

 "Become a student of your own writing and develop good writing habits. It's hard to accept that criticism sometimes, especially when you put days, weeks, or months into a piece and it gets rejected. Again, accept feedback kindly, thank the individual(s), and improve your writing. It took me three and one-half years to finally understand what it takes to be a ‘good writer’, albeit I'm not an excellent writer.  I know that it takes time to craft a good manuscript/section/chapter, which means days, weeks, or months of work.”

•    Be quick to listen and slow to speak

"Listen more, ask questions frequently, and talk less. I'm still working on this one."

Articles worth a read:

7 ways of not getting a PhD
Surviving Graduate School by Ronald T. Azuma, Ph.D.
Thoughts on Getting a PhD (Comp Sc)
7 secrets of highly successful PhD students