Postcard from an EdD | 1.5 Years In

posted in: Postcards from an EdD | 0

I am a year and a half into my doctoral studies, with only two years to go! Two years sounds like a lot, except that this program is speeding by. This summer, I only have a quick five-wgraduateek course, but the fall semester promises a high workload and a bit of stress. I’ll be taking three classes this fall, one of which will focus on starting my dissertation proposal.

One of the features of the ASU EdD program is its Leader-Scholar Communities (LSC). These are small groups of students all assigned the same LSC chair, who is also our dissertation chair. I’m so pleased to have received my LSC assignment at the end of the spring semester! I’m with some of my favorite people in the program, including my two EdD besties, and I’m looking forward to getting to know our LSC chair. In our first LSC, LSC 1, we’ll write our proposals this fall.

Even more excitingly, I’m looking forward to getting my chair’s input on my newest dissertation topic! As I mentioned in my last Postcards entry, I’ve experienced quite a bit of career change and had to adjust my problem of practice accordingly. I’m planning to meet with my new chair soon to get his thoughts.

The challenge is that I’m shifting my problem of practice to an entirely new topic: artificial intelligence! If you follow my newsletter or my YouTube channel, you know that I’m currently obsessed with AI, thanks to my participation in ASU’s AI Innovation Project. I was so lucky to be selected to receive a ChatGPT 4 paid license. Just days after my access ended, OpenAI announced that previously paywalled features like GPTs are going to be rolled out to everyone for FREE!

This is especially fantastic news for me because, while I had access to ChatGPT 4, I created my own personal EdD professor chatbot that answered all of my many questions and helped me with research design. After participating as an interviewee in an AI research study conducted by my EdD program leadership, I decided to change my problem of practice to my EdD professor chatbot, which I named Dr. Eddy.

I’m planning to study how access to such a chatbot can assist students enrolled in ASU’s EdD program. Will it help reduce feelings of isolation? Provide useful personalized tutoring? Help EdD students be more successful academically? More confident in their schoolwork?

I was feeling bummed about losing access to Dr. Eddy, but now I’m looking forward to rebuilding her and sharing her with the rest of my program. Prior to OpenAI’s announcement, and after investigating free options for building chatbots knowing that I would soon lose paid access to ChatGPT 4, I built a draft of Dr. Eddy using Zapier. Zapier’s chatbot platform has the benefit of recording the conversations people have with your chatbot, but it has the downside of not remembering its users. I found it really useful to have the ChatGPT version of Dr. Eddy remember me and what I was working on, so I didn’t have to remind “her” every time.

Now, while I’m excited about this topic, I need to be sure that my dissertation chair is on board! If he is, I plan to get some of my literature review done this summer so that I’m ready to go for fall.

This fall, I’m signed up for three courses. Two of these are my last “real” classes—one focuses on how to do quantitative research, and the other on qualitative research.

The last course I’m taking is the LSC, where we’ll begin our dissertation proposals. We’ll write drafts of the three chapters required for our proposals this fall. Then, in spring, we’ll identify and recruit two more members of our dissertation committees, and we’ll finalize our proposals and defend them. Somewhere in there, I’m pretty sure we also have to take an oral exam, but I don’t have any details on that yet.

Next fall, we’ll perform our official research study for our dissertation, and the spring after that, we’ll write it up as a dissertation. I’m amazed that this program has gone by so quickly and that my dissertation is relatively right around the corner!

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