Postcards from an EdD

Postcard from an EdD | Second Semester Field Study

My doctoral program is speeding right along! I’ve officially completed three courses and I’m currently enrolled in two for summer session. Depending on how you count, there are about 21 total “courses” in the program, including dissertation work, so let’s just go ahead and say that I’m 1/7 or 14% done with my doctorate!

This summer I’m enrolled in a leadership class and in a “directed field-based study” or DFS. The DFS is actually a mini-internship that required me to locate a “mentor” to host me for a 30-hour internship. Thanks to one of my regular discussion mates, I connected with a senior instructional designer at Arizona State that works in the college of education. I’m going to shadow him as he works with faculty on redesigning their courses.

I’m interested in pursuing a career in faculty development. I already do training on the side for librarians and faculty, so it’s a good fit for me to do an internship with someone that does this on the daily. I’m really skilled in online teaching but I’m interested in learning more about working with faculty to improve their courses and their teaching.

What I’m Working On Right Now

As one of my projects for my DFS, I’m working on a guide to group work for ASU college of education’s Teaching Toolkit. My problem of practice that I’m focusing my doctorate on is building community for students in my online asynchronous courses, and I plan to use a group work assignment as one strategy to get students connected and talking with each other.

Until now, I’ve been just throwing my students into group work, letting them figure it out. But there’s a better way! I was lucky to attend a really useful conference presentation where the presenter explained how she helps her students get off to the best possible start as a group. She doesn’t just throw them into it, she asks them to complete a contract as a group that includes group expectations and even penalties for not performing.

You can be sure when I get that guide to group work done, probably next week, I’ll tell you all about it here!

How Does One Build Community?

Over last semester I read a lot of articles about building community for students and the Community of Practice theory and specific strategies for assignments to build community, but I’m left wanting more.

Outside of work and school I’m also the president for a local moms group. Recruiting new members is hard to do! Anecdotally, I’ve heard in this group and in my bike group as well that attendance to community events has been down since the pandemic, which makes sense.

I know that pretty much everyone wants community. How do we get that going together?

One of my classmates recommended a book that I’m planning to pick up – How We Show Up: Reclaiming Family, Friendship, and Community by Mia Birdsong. I’m working on building community for my students, but I’m very interested in how we do this in real life.

I see regular articles showing that Americans are lonelier than ever – how do we address that? Clearly this is outside the scope of my doctoral work, but I can’t help but be fixated on it, seeing as how I need more of a community for myself as well. Teaching and attending school online is very, very convenient, but I’m missing the social aspects of having coworkers more than ever.

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