Tag Archives: MA Thesis

Thesis Update 10/1/2020

It took me some time to sit down and get going on furthering my thesis project this week as I had work in other classes that needed to be done.  With that being said, I feel as though I am staying right on track with where I want to take my project.  Once again, I do not want to go too far into the specifics of it all, but I will let everyone know what my process looked like this week.  I actually took some time to continue developing the main character of my story, Kirk Ramsey.  For those of you who have gotten a chance to read the work I posted within my blog last week, you know that this character is something that I have taken time to develop and am feeling closer and closer to him everyday that I spend working on this project.  For me, the biggest thing is making sure the kind nature of my character gets across to the people that may one day decide to read this piece of work that I am putting together.  How I did that this week was thinking back to how I came up with the character in the first place.  It really is a reflection of me in many ways (not necessarily the kindness part.)  Rather, more to do with the way that he keeps to himself.  So, with this in mind, I felt it necessary to do some writing exercises to solicit what I mean.  I approached this by thinking about how I am one to keep to myself and keep myself closed off from others.  I would not say it is my best quality, but I am definitely someone who does not divulge too much of my personal life or struggles to others.  In Kirk, I want to accentuate that feeling, and make sure the reader can see him for how good of a person he is while also being able to recognize the flaws that he may have.  In doing this, I am hoping to make his story compelling and one where the reader feels as though they are cheering for him the entire time.  As my story is built on the “wrong place at the wrong time” kind of scenario, I looked to a book I read in my childhood, Holes.  I, of course, did not have enough time to read the book, so I did the next best thing and watched the film based on it.  In this piece, the protagonist, Stanley Yelnats is a law abiding citizen, and is the victim of his own family’s bad luck and misfortune.  Through the entire film, Stanley never really waivers, or feels bad for himself even though the circumstances are not fair and certainly not his fault.  That is the kind of resilience I foresee with my character in this book.  For the sake of the story as a whole, it is important that he comes across this way to me, as I want the reader to see his pain and feel his struggle as that kind of relatability is paramount for the progression of the story and the Kirk Ramsey character.  

I also spent limited time looking up information about the place that I am setting to be the hometown of Kirk, which is Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Oddly enough, the inspiration for this being his hometown is also kind near to me.  For those of you who do not know, during the spring semester, my entire family, including myself, caught the coronavirus.  I was in my bed for two weeks, as was the rest of my family.  While I spent those two weeks without a sense of taste or smell, agonizing body aches, and a fever consistently at 104 degrees, there was a song (one of my favorite country songs,) “Callin’ Baton Rouge” by Garth Brooks that I played on repeat from my google home in my room as I was waiting to feel better.  It was constantly playing this song on repeat that I decided to incorporate the city in which the song is named for into my story.  I know it sounds weird, but because of this, I feel a deep connection to that song.  With all of that being said, I did light research into the city, and even spoke with one of my closest friend’s mothers, as she is a native of New Orleans (not Baton Rouge, but she can still speak to what Louisiana is like.)  I found some information from my chats with her combined with my own research that I plan using to make sure that his character stays consistent with someone that might have come from that area.

This project is becoming more and more a part of me with every activity I do that relates to it and I am going to push on to keep the momentum going. 

Thesis Update 10/1/2020

It took me some time to sit down and get going on furthering my thesis project this week as I had work in other classes that needed to be done.  With that being said, I feel as though I am staying right on track with where I want to take my project.  Once again, I do not want to go too far into the specifics of it all, but I will let everyone know what my process looked like this week.  I actually took some time to continue developing the main character of my story, Kirk Ramsey.  For those of you who have gotten a chance to read the work I posted within my blog last week, you know that this character is something that I have taken time to develop and am feeling closer and closer to him everyday that I spend working on this project.  For me, the biggest thing is making sure the kind nature of my character gets across to the people that may one day decide to read this piece of work that I am putting together.  How I did that this week was thinking back to how I came up with the character in the first place.  It really is a reflection of me in many ways (not necessarily the kindness part.)  Rather, more to do with the way that he keeps to himself.  So, with this in mind, I felt it necessary to do some writing exercises to solicit what I mean.  I approached this by thinking about how I am one to keep to myself and keep myself closed off from others.  I would not say it is my best quality, but I am definitely someone who does not divulge too much of my personal life or struggles to others.  In Kirk, I want to accentuate that feeling, and make sure the reader can see him for how good of a person he is while also being able to recognize the flaws that he may have.  In doing this, I am hoping to make his story compelling and one where the reader feels as though they are cheering for him the entire time.  As my story is built on the “wrong place at the wrong time” kind of scenario, I looked to a book I read in my childhood, Holes.  I, of course, did not have enough time to read the book, so I did the next best thing and watched the film based on it.  In this piece, the protagonist, Stanley Yelnats is a law abiding citizen, and is the victim of his own family’s bad luck and misfortune.  Through the entire film, Stanley never really waivers, or feels bad for himself even though the circumstances are not fair and certainly not his fault.  That is the kind of resilience I foresee with my character in this book.  For the sake of the story as a whole, it is important that he comes across this way to me, as I want the reader to see his pain and feel his struggle as that kind of relatability is paramount for the progression of the story and the Kirk Ramsey character.  

I also spent limited time looking up information about the place that I am setting to be the hometown of Kirk, which is Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Oddly enough, the inspiration for this being his hometown is also kind near to me.  For those of you who do not know, during the spring semester, my entire family, including myself, caught the coronavirus.  I was in my bed for two weeks, as was the rest of my family.  While I spent those two weeks without a sense of taste or smell, agonizing body aches, and a fever consistently at 104 degrees, there was a song (one of my favorite country songs,) “Callin’ Baton Rouge” by Garth Brooks that I played on repeat from my google home in my room as I was waiting to feel better.  It was constantly playing this song on repeat that I decided to incorporate the city in which the song is named for into my story.  I know it sounds weird, but because of this, I feel a deep connection to that song.  With all of that being said, I did light research into the city, and even spoke with one of my closest friend’s mothers, as she is a native of New Orleans (not Baton Rouge, but she can still speak to what Louisiana is like.)  I found some information from my chats with her combined with my own research that I plan using to make sure that his character stays consistent with someone that might have come from that area.

This project is becoming more and more a part of me with every activity I do that relates to it and I am going to push on to keep the momentum going. 

Waiting in Blissful Exhaustion


Today’s post will be relatively short, so there is a good reason for this. As far as my thesis work is coming along, I am pace with my projected research calendar. Currently, I am making my last edits for my research proposal and documentation for the IRB. Dr. Nelson (again to the rescue!) agreed to look over my documents before I submit everything. Great news, I was approved by my AmeriCorps site to conduct research with nine students in my own after school club (The Writing Club)! I am just waiting for my AmeriCorps site that agreed to let me do the research to sign the School Bases Research document. 

Other actions I need to make is to connect with Dr. Zamora or Dr. Nelson in helping me break down the categories and other aspects when trying to apply Grounded Theory to my research. With that being said, this is pretty much where I stand in my project and awaiting in my blissful tiredness.

Thesis Update 1

This week, like all of us, I sat down to put some good work into my Thesis project and it felt good to get started on this journey.  My approach may be a tad unorthodox, but the steps I took this week are definitely in the right direction.  For those of you who may not know, comedy clubs have begun to slowly reopen, so they are beginning to put on shows and open mics again.  I spent some time this week writing up some new material for myself to try out at a local mic.  I am sure you are wondering what this has to do with my Thesis project.  I’m glad you asked!  I thought doing something like this, that I am familiar with, would help to get my creative juices flowing, which it did.  Seeing as my project is creative in nature, this was an important stp for me.

Once I was able to feel like I was loosened up, I began to do some free writing exercises to put together parts of my story and think harder about the progression of the arc.  I know you are all clamoring to see the and hear the project, but as some of you may know, I am a bit self conscience about my creative work and do not like to give much away until the project is completed.  I promise I will give all of you a look into the specific progress I have made, in time, but until that point I will probably just be sharing specifics with Dr. Zamora as she helps guide me.  I am the same way when it comes to writing jokes for me, where I have one friend that I use to kind of bounce my ideas off of, and get his input.  Otherwise, everyone else I know has to come and see me to listen to my material.  I feel the same way about this work, especially considering it is a creative piece born from my own thoughts and experiences.

I may not want to give specific details, but I can give you a kind of overview of what it is I did exactly.  I sat down in my bedroom and thought long and hard about what it is I want to be included in the arc of the story that I am writing.  To be honest with you, this being an exercise that has been done kind of early on in this process, I honestly do not know how many of these ideas, if any, will make the cut.  It was just nice to see some of my ideas down on paper and see some kind of tangible substance that pertains to this project.  Most of the work had to do with connections and relationships among characters.  I am not sure how many of you read the work I did last semester that was the genesis of this project, but I really have two characters that are my main protagonist and antagonist, but I need more characters to create more substance and to have deeper understandings of my character’s feelings and their personalities, as it is important to show these things as I progress along with my story.  

I am sure some of you have some questions, and I look forward to addressing them with all of you in class this week.  See you all later. 

Expanding my Ideas

I am so excited to be working on this thesis!  I did not have any clue what I wanted to do for a thesis project, and then I was introduced to the Net Mirror.  In this class from last semester, we cultivated great ideas and a firm understanding of the world that we are living in today, and how these advances in technology can become challenging roadblocks to us as individuals and as part of our entire society as a whole.  The culminating project was a story concept, so we had the opportunity to get creative and write something that we truly found to be of interest to ourselves.  For me, it was the inception of my thesis project, “Distance.”  Below is a link to the final product that was submitted, and this will be what guides me in the early stages of creating the piece of work in its entirety:

With this, I have the general direction and themes I want to build on with this piece, but now it is about expanding on these ideas and creating the universe it takes place in, as well as the characters that are going to be featured in it.  More importantly, I want the Net Narr influence to come through clear in whatever the finished product of my thesis becomes.  One of the things that I had most fun with was developing the characters and setting to reflect the kind of work I want it to be.  I went pretty far with it, but now it is time to go even further and refine how I want this to come across to potential readers.  So, I think one of the first steps is going to be really getting into the backstory of the two main characters, as well as that of the protagonist’s mother, who I see playing a prominent role in the finished product of this work.  For me, previous life circumstances and relationships with people play major roles in our development as people and citizens, so I definitely want to highlight the relationship of a homesick son and his supportive mother.  Building this part of the story is going to be imperative for the direction I think I want to go as of right now, so if I were to get started on one aspect or part of the story, this is where I would have to begin, as the relationship with your mother (or lack thereof) plays a pivotal role in the development and formation of a young person’s life.  

It is also very important to me that I get the setting right.  I can envision what I want it to look like in my head, so now it is up to me to put the work in to do the research and make sure however I describe the time and place in such a way that can truly give a feel for the type of environment this story is going to live in.  I have reasons as to why I want the setting to be such a particular way, and that can all be found in the above posted link.  In short, I want it to reflect the feeling of living in an “outlaw” kind of society.

Lastly, if you have read my link above, you will notice it is definitely heavily influenced by the COVID-19 world we live in today (and by my own bout with the virus.)  I want to keep it going and truly make this a time period kind of piece.  With that said, I would love to add the element of social justice and where we are currently in the fight for equality.  I think it is an opportunity to take a snapshot of where we are today, but also a gloomy projection of where we might be headed if we do not fix a number of things that are currently happening in our society.  

Can’t wait to see all of you later!

Getting The Ball Rolling!

Reflection last Weeks Progress Report

In last week’s class meeting, members in my assigned group had the opportunity to share the essence of what their thesis project will be. From hearing everyone express their passion within their own research/project inquiry, I felt a huge surge of inspiration! Everything felt so natural and open when we shared our ideas. With that being said, a sort of activity we did was that everyone was assigned a peer to take notes while they explained their project. Below you will find my notes from my designated peer:

Main Contribs: the adventures of the writing process

Research Thus Far – lit review completed, research proposal completed,

Methodologies Applied/Will Apply: Plan to use digital online website and google sites to bring together a presentation

Next Steps 

– implement final steps in project 

– use methodologies to compete research ( grounded theory) 

– add more research to project ( research process ) 

It was very refreshing to share my project thus far with my peers and have them give their opinion and feedback. With this form of round table conferencing, I was able to communicate with others on what aspects of my research I need to do next. Which leads to the next element of this post.

Comment on My Lit Review thus far

Through the help of Dr. Nelson during the Spring 2020 semester, I was able to get an early start to my research proposal that I will be submitting to the IRB in the very near future. If you click on the image below, you will have access to my Lit review thus far (more so an annotated bib). I need to add one more piece of literature and I believe that it will be complete.

Click the image above to review my Lit Review

Methodology Used

Below is a snippet from my research proposal that explains the methodology I will be using and how I will conduct this research with my future writing scholars!

MEASUREMENT

The kinds of measurements I tend to use are the following: testing benchmarks issued by Orange school district, surveys, and writing prompts. Each measurement is essential in its own way, due to it targeting a different aspect or seeing the effectiveness of the T.A.W.P digital writing program. 

Benchmarks in education are defined as the following: “Benchmarking in education occurs when measurable standards are set for learning. For example, benchmarks might be set for the concepts that must be mastered in each grade. They might also be used to see where a particular student, class, or even school ranks in comparison to others.” (Dance-Schissel, n.d.). Within a northeastern U.S school, Benchmarks are given throughout the school year. From September 2020 – December 2020 (First and second marking periods). I would also look to use surveys throughout the course of the study to get an emotional and mental aspect on how the students feel about the program. Surveys will be given at the end of each “adventure” in the program to take into consideration students’ understanding and feeling towards the program. Survey would be best suited for my study due to my being able to control questions to specifically address the program without outside variables affecting any raw data. The survey will be formatted in the most simplistic form that 3rd grade students and below will be able to understand.

The last measurement I would use is writing prompts. Prompts will be designed and given based on each “adventure” being covered (e.g., brainstorming, prewriting, drafting, complete essay, etc.). 

DATA-COLLECTION METHODS

My research study plan is to conduct acas study. Addressing my research question, “How does implementing the digital writing program TAWP into a 3rd Grade classroom affect the writing of the students?”, I plan to test this digital writing program designed by me. I want to use this study to test the effectiveness of the T.A.W.P program within a classroom setting to aid in the development of writing eLearning content. The type of research I am conducting is a case study research using Grounded Theory. With collected data obtained through my service, I was able to apply this information to further my inquiry on how to help my students improve in their writing. The data-collection methods I intend to use are the following: surveys, feedback from writing prompts, and experiment. I am still open to other options.

The data that was generated that stirred me towards Grounded and my research question is through participant observation. As a Reading Coach, I would not only work side by side with students, but I would also observe their actions throughout the course of the class. When students would go start writing assignments, they would either have trouble starting it or not doing it as a whole. As for when I work with that students using the T.A.W.P program, I will be still doing participant observation alongside surveys, writing prompts, and benchmarks.

ANALYSIS

The methodology I choose to use for my research to collect data for my eLearning content, T.A.W.P, is Grounded Theory. Grounded Theory is a particular way of collecting and analyzing data with the intention of developing a theory from the data that explains the phenomenon. As explained previously, the phenomenon that appeared in both of my 2nd grade classrooms I worked in was the struggles within approaching writing. In using Grounded Theory, I am following the approach of Mills and Birks (2014). but in disclaimer, as Grounded Theory does not necessarily have a blueprint, or ‘format’ to go by to take me step by step. So with that said, I can only give the information I have thus far and continue to go back and forth between the process of data collection and analysis. I am looking to see whether or not my writing program had any effect (whether positive or negative) on the students’ writing.

The data will be analyzed through a Grounded Theory approach (Strauss & Corbin, 1998). Lastly, the methodology that formulated my research question is Grounded Theory. My research question was not a predetermined question. Through my work as a Reading Coach working with 2nd grade students.

Data Collection

Categories

From my research, the designate grouping together instances of events, process, and occurrences that share central features. As the research processes on, I will be able to categorize data as it proceeds.

Coding

The coding process is not a discrete stage as it is in some research methodologies but rather a continuous aspect of the analytic nature of classic grounded theory. Beginning with line-by-line open coding of data and comparing incidents to each other in the data, I aim to compare phenomenons that may occur during my time working with the students. 

Instruments

There are different variables that can affect my conclusions. Everything except for the program must be the same for my control group and my experimental group (group with your program). If anything else is not the same (e.g., after school or not after school), then I have two different variables at play (after school and your program).

Analysis

The data will be analyzed through a Grounded Theory approach (Strauss & Corbin, 1990). Lastly, the methodology that formulated my research question is Grounded Theory. My research question was not a predetermined question. Through my work as a Reading Coach working with 2nd grade students. A phenomenon 

Working calendar

The following is a calendar of my prospective research schedule. This schedule covers important dates for the Thesis class itself, my agenda when conducting the research, and other important attributes to my research that I will be covering at the end of my blog.

Other essential attributes I will be doing throughout the course of the semester are the following:

  • Applying to conferences to present my research
  • Publishing my work
  • Expanding my knowledge by continuing my work with digital media/applications to develop TAWP

Thesis Intro

Hello everyone!  Let me take a moment to say just how happy I am that the semester is starting up again!  The time off from our journey was nice, but I am more than ready to get back to it.  I’ve been working like crazy all summer long, so to have a chance to get back into my studies and focus on something such as preparing and writing my thesis is something that definitely excites me a whole lot.  Additionally, I genuinely look forward to seeing how each one of my classmates progress in their own thesis journey, as I feel our group is special in that we are constantly bringing out the best in each other.  

For my thesis, I am actually going to pursue work I have done in a previous class.  For those who were in the Networked Narratives last semester with Dr. Zamora and Professor Alan Levine, I am going to take the story outline we worked on as the final project and work to write the story in its entirety as a novel.  In that class, I really felt myself begin to blossom as a creative type, and the prospects of exploring this further truly excites me.  It is a work that ties in the pandemic and the scary realities of where our society is headed in terms of technology and this idea of surveillance capital (if you know, you know.)  

The task at hand is certainly daunting, but I welcome the challenge and the work that this is going to be.  I look forward to working with everybody in such a manner that will elevate each of our ideas into truly special, valuable work.  

Road to MA Thesis: Getting things done!

Quick Introduction 

Hi all! My name is Patricia Dennis (P for short). Quite honestly, I can not really complain about my time during COVID. I was pretty sad about not being able to do my summer internship, but other amazing opportunities did happen for me! I am not going to go so in depth about my fortunate outcomes, as I do not want this blog to be all about that. What I would like to share is my … RESEARCH PROJECT!

Story time: Back story to my research idea

I am going to turn into a major “Nerd” but these three acadmics/scholars have been the driving force to my epiphany of my thesis project: Professor Donald Murray, Dr. Charles Nelson, and the great Peter Elbow! Through these amazing scholars, I was able to start, refine, and now ready to execute my thesis research project! In a sense, my research idea was kind of beginning to form in my Writing Theory & Practice course where I was first introduced to the Writing Process. Professor Donald Murray, who claims in his article, Teaching Writing as a Process not Product; this idea of teaching writing in the form of a process and not just an only end product, made a lot of sense to me. So much sense, that I started to question why I never heard of this “writing process” before, even though this claim was made in the 1970’s. This is where Dr. Nelson comes into play. My Research & Methodologies course is where I discovered the question that was born through my two years experience as an AmeriCorps member (I will have that experience soon available, as it pertains to my research question!). During my time with Dr. Nelson, he truly mentored me through using research methodologies; not just during the spring semester, but also throughout this past summer … he has been nothing short of amazing. The one advice he continued to repeat throughout the summer to me was, “You must find that gap of literature to aid in your research questions (which I will provide at the end of this lovely blog, so please hang on!). Here is where, last but certainly not least, Mr. Peter Elbow is introduced! Writing with Power: Techniques for Mastering the Writing Process, written by Peter Elbow gives a very extensive breakdown on how to approach various ways to go through the process of writing. This book is literally the holy grail to my research! With that said, I can now get to the nitty gritty of what my research question is, the scholarly research I intend to produce, and my end product that will be a part of my PhD application.

As I stated previously, I was lucky enough to start my research interest in the Spring 2020 semester. This year has been an express train of educatioction, I have not stopped since the spring semester! And again, THANK YOU SO MUCH DR. NELSON! He served as my unofficial/official advisor throughout the process of polishing my research proposal and other supplement material to hand into the IRB. So here is where I am right now: Time to implement the research.

Here is the research!

The title of my research is shown in the beginning of this post: The Adventures of the Writing Process (TAWP). My research interest is turning this idea of the writing process (with my own modification and adaptation of the MIT Writing Process) into a free online digital instruction for young writers. From my currently pursued education at NJIT, I am learning new technical skills to turn my idea of teaching the writing process into a digital platform.Taking the Advanced Information Design course at NJIT opened my eyes to instructional design and the importance of it in today’s classrooms (that’s a post for another day!). I also have this experience documented in my site as it is a vital part of my research and how I created my digital instructional database. I will have my research proposal available for view soon, once I submit it to the IRB.

This part of my thesis is dedicated to turning theory into practice, and using my research and creation to help young writers (between grades 3rd – 5th). I am currently waiting to hear back from another AmeriCorps position so that I can do my research at the school I will possibly serve. AmeriCorps for a possible third year in a row! I plan/hope that the end product to this research will be a research result article and possibly an ebook that will act as a “map” on this adventure. Hopefully I can make this book in my Electronic Literatureand New Media and Design courses this semester!

With that said, I am excited to start this adventure and to see where it takes my always curious mind. Until then, Namaste my fellow writing scholar cohorts!