You know I often forget that I have a Ph.D. and sometimes I don’t even pay attention to the fact that I am an assistant professor. Even though my students address me as doctor (occassionally) and professor (some prefer Mr. as if they are still in high school), I am sometimes ambivalent to my accomplishments.
However, in class today I had a group giving their last presentation on the Uses and Gratifications Approach, which is often used in Mass Communication as a tool to understand how people use mass media. While they were presenting I had an epiphany. I remembered that as a doctoral student I had taken a class or seminar that dealt with the Uses and Gratifications Approach for an entire semester.
With only five of us as students and one professor, who was a pioneer in the field, we dissected, discussed and ballyhooed the Uses and Gratifications Approach twice a week, one and a half hour sessions or longer, for four mounths….
As my students discussed the theory (or approach) and as I realized that I was already intimately familiar with the information or it ‘rang a bell,” I realized, damn, I deserve my title of Assistant Professor. I have put in the time and in fact spent almost 5 years in a Mass Communication Ph.D. program learning how to be a researcher, writer and professor. While I was listening to their presentations I couldn’t help but think of all the research I conducted as a grad student, books and academic articles I’ve read, etc. I even taught at least 25 courses during my time as a doctoral student and candidate.
I often forget in my day to day activities, but I have to start remembering why I went after a Ph.D. and I need to make sure I keep putting it to use. For me that means research….
Recently I have been emphasizing my wish to increase my research output. Well, just as when I served in the army, it’s a lot of hurry up and wait. My main focus has been to make sure I do a little bit each day (except Sundays). So far I have all of my contract paperwork, etc., signed for the publishing of my book (academic research = probably no profit) and have sent off my second draft. I am also working with a partner to shape up some of my writings on the graduate experience and pedagogical skills.
I have three research projects, two for my academic field and one totally non-academic that I am working on. I just keep hoping that if I continue to work on them each day, eventually I will finish. I have also revamped my routine for staying abreast in my field so I can continue to grow in the knowledge of my subject area. Let’s just say that I have to stay marketable. I had a minor epiphany the other day and I realized that the more knowledge I consume the better I am able to churn out research and writings… So I am staying busy.
I have been doubling my efforts at research and writing as of late. Especially since I have realized that the atmosphere at this college will not change. It is very disheartening to see the lack of motivation on the part of the students. I am also experiencing a gradual burnout due to teaching too many classes and seeing no relief in sight. Also, the lack of interest in research and publishing in the college does not serve as inspiration. Although I believe that this is largely due to the number of classes that must be taught.
I have four projects that I am working on right now. One is a book project where the first draft is due in two weeks. I have a research project that I am working on for the public that I should finish in two weeks and a research project that I am working on to submit to an academic journal. I am also working on an article for my academic blog, where I use my real name, that discusses visual intelligence and cognitive learning.
I can motivate myself but I am trying to avoid the negativity that I find myself facing throughout the week. I actually had a student ask, the week before their test, if they just came to class and listened to my lectures could they pass the test…..
About two weeks ago an “international” publishing company, based out of Germany, contacted my former major professor/mentor of my dissertation and stated that they were interested in publishing research I had conducted as a book. He sent me their contact information and I promptly contacted them back after researching what they were all about. The verdict; I will be publishing my research through their organization. I am now in the process of converting my documents to one suitable for a public audience.
It was totally unexpected.—- but I’ll take it……
My research projects are going well. I am making progress and gathering data for one project and working on the literature review for another. Last Friday my college had a meeting for those interested in publishing. Out of six people that showed up, five were from my division. That is a very good sign for me. It means that I can bounce ideas off of people in my department and have support for my work even if it’s just encouragement. The outcome of the meeting was the idea of a monthly meeting to share our progress with others that will essentially serve as a tool to keep us motivated.
Oh yeah: My wife found a job! She started as a math teacher for a middle school, one mile from our house, last Thursday. She is an accountant by trade and has worked in university and private positions for the past 5 years. However, when we moved here she decided she had enough of the field and said she wanted to work as a teacher. Well, she got her wish.
I talked to the dean of my department this morning about research I want to conduct concerning video share sites like You Tube, etc. I wanted to find out this college’s process for the use of human subjects. She stated she would get back to me soon. I have been working out the parameters of the study for about two weeks now; gathering the background for the lit. review and trying to hammer out a proper methodology for the study. I am working on a pilot survey instrument right now and trying to work out all of the kinks.
I have also been working out how I am going to fulfill certain requirements as it pertains to my position as an assistant professor. For those who don’t know we have to outline certain plans we have for ourselves in the areas of teaching, professional goals (research or conferences) and community service as a part of a performance review. As far as teaching and professionals goals I have no worries, but I have been trying to think about how to best serve the community. Immediately I knew that I would list my donations of books as service and would join their program for “givers” to the library system. I just have to make sure I donate on a regular schedule. (While in graduate school my wife and I ran a small bookstore so I know the ins and outs of book buying and can get books very cheaply.) I thought about mentorship at a local boys or girls club or community center, but knowing my schedule I don’t know if I could commit fully. I have been in organizations who have sponsored students before and an hour a two a week is just not enough. It helps, but I want to make a significant impact.
My wife solved my problem. She has been talking about doing volunteer work since we moved to our new city and on Sunday she suggested that we volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. Perfect! She called and left a message at the branch in our area (through a local church) and hopefully we can begin volunteering in about 2 weeks.