Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Writing interview findings...

Selected from an email to Sharon:
It's a good morning for writing, I can feel the "flow" actually "flowing" through my brain... 2 pages edited and 3 created in just two hours! Of course, I have plenty of questions, and this seems to be one of the easiest parts (I bet I'll get stuck again when I get into the "analysis"), but it feels great for a change... If you still can afford the time (before your trip, I mean), I'd need you to have a look at the edited version of the Interview Process and my first report on an interview (I'm also attaching the questionnaires, for you to refer to if necessary). You'll find plenty of questions inserted as footnotes and comments.

As I can go on working on for other 3 hours, I'll try and report on XX next, I'll send it to you before logging off, but don't worry about me if you cannot reply to me...

All my love,


PS: I'll also post the relevant sections of this email in the blog in a minute, to record my reflection... yesterday I heard teaching is one of the most cyclothymic professions... I guess my blog reflects just that!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Chatting with the experts

Wow! I've just finished "interviewing" (chatting on Yahoo messenger, bah!) Martin Holmes, a leading figure in computer-assisted writing. For half an hour, I totally forgot I was (I am?) a non-native speaker of English (I mean, I "forgot" what it is like to feel foreign), and I also forgot I'm "humbly" trying to make my world into the academic community... and jut enjoyed discussing a topic of common interest with "another expert"... he with the perspective of a programmer and ex-university professor in a highly developed country, I with the view of a teacher (and "just-turned researcher"?) in Argentina...

Well done, Sharon! Once again, you've helped me "use my wings"! (We should let our visitors know you've been insisting I should do this for nearly two months, right?)

A thesis's question is to be answered and...

Once again, a most "intensive" morning Skyping with Sharon... 2 hours chatting... she helps me gain so much insight!!! Just two lines I do NOT want to forget from everything she "gave" me today:

A really well written thesis not only answers the question posed, but also leaves the reader with "food for thought", sets new questions for further research, opens new paths...

Back to writing!

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Happy Birthday!

Dear Gladys,

Have a wonderful birthday and take a break from the "thesis stuff." It will be waiting for you tomorrow!



Thursday, June 23, 2005

The snail up the wall

About 24 years ago, when I sat for my entrance examination to high school, I was asked to work out the following problem:

"A snail crawls 2 metres up a 5-metre-high wall during the day, but at night, while sleeping, falls 1 metre down. On what day will the snail reach the top of the wall?"

God knows why this morning I woke up and remembered that snail, and thought "no matter how frustrating it may feel to get stuck (and even "fall backwards") so often, the snail is bound to reach the top sooner or later... So... I am certain to get to the "top of my thesis-wall" one day too. Maybe the snail couldn't see the top of the wall from his position, probably it'd never reached the top before and then had no idea of what it would take... but it persisted...

Back to working on the "Scope and Focus of Study" section... Up like the snail!!!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The role of the teacher in process writing.......


An interesting point of discussion indeed. I too would like to have an active discussion about this. Perhaps our readers can ask you for privileges so that they can post also. How do you feel about this? I know that it will make for a lively and varied experience. Ummm....the traditionalists vs the constructivists.

Another note for our readers:

Please feel free to ask questions and make comments. If Gladys is in agreement, then you can create your own posts regarding our ongoing conversation.


A new day starts...

Last night I went to bed feeling really down... after doing my best during the whole afternoon (yesterday it was a bank holiday, so the girls and I were both at home), I realised I'd only managed to produce 2 new pages... TWO? TWO!!! And double-spaced!!!
It was yesterday that I started writing the "Scope and Focus of the Study" section, something I've never read before in my life. As a reader, I find that the least interesting section in any work I've come across... Though I'm working using a model, I keep fishing for words and "mentally stammering"...

Overwhelmed, I emailed what I'd produced to Sharon and went to bed, and even cried a few tears for the feeling of "being at a loss"... My last thought was (as far as I remember) "Do I really have a good reason for getting through all this?"

But this morning I find Sharon has taken the trouble to reply before going to bed (her time), and her feedback helps me see my two pages are sound, the many questions I'd asked now have answers, and this helps me move "forward and faster", and that there is at least one reader (whom I really care about) eagerly waiting to see how my text goes on... The sun has not come up yet, but I think I can feel it in my heart!

How lucky I am to have met you, Sharon! (BTW, this would make an interesting point for a discussion of the role of the teacher in process writing... ;-)!)

Monday, June 20, 2005

Sometimes we change the way we think during the thesis creation process

Transformational/transformative learning is basically about change. Mezirow believes that an adult will rely upon understanding their experiences with a particular manner of thinking until that manner is no longer effective. At that point if the adult is willing to look critically at the assumptions and beliefs and question how these things have affected his thinking, he then becomes open to changing and transforming these beliefs.

Mezirow also believes that it is the role of the adult educator to promote critical reflection in the adult learner, thereby enabling him to evaluate his and others’ assumptions and ultimately make the best (rational) choices (as cited in Merriam and Caffarella, p.320). In reference to transformational learning Mezirow states:

We transform our frames of reference by becoming critically reflective of assumptions and aware of the context of our way of thinking – the source, nature and consequences of our take for granted belief. Transformative learning refers to transforming a problematic reference to make it more functional in our adult life (Mezirow, J. (1998). Holdner, 1998

Okay, so what is a thesis...anyway?

From the perspective of academics in native English speaking cultures we know that:

The distinguishing mark of graduate research is an original contribution to knowledge. The thesis is a formal document whose sole purpose is to prove that you have made an original contribution to knowledge (Prof. John W. Chinneck, from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.) The previous link takes you to the Spanish version of JC's paper.

  • you have identified a worthwhile problem or question which has not been previously answered or answered in the manner in which you intend to answer it
  • you have solved the problem or answered the question

Your contribution to knowledge generally lies in your solution or answer.

Well, that was easy enough...wasn't it? :-) So this takes us to step 1 in thesis writing.

  • What is the question or problem that we are going to address?

Once you have identified your question or problem, then you create the thesis around the research that provides the answer. Feel free to ask questions about the this process.


After "the light"... lots of doubts!!!

I've just sat down to write the "scope and focus of study"section... Feels like a new language, and not a transparent one!!!!

I wonder:
  1. should I report my questionnaires (part one and two) as two diferent interview instruments, or just one? What's worse, are they "instrument interviews"??? If not, what can I call them? And is it appropriate to write "utilized in the process of purposeful interviews" when most of the exchanges took place via email?
  2. Since my thesis needs to be printed to be submitted, is it Ok to alter the format of the questionnaires I've actually used (I'd used forms with drop boxes) when including them in the appendix?
  3. When reporting the number of people interviewed, should I include those who said they'd take part, but never got to even signing the "Human Subjects form"?

Oh! Every step is a new world!

(I'd like to include a picture here that helps me express my
mixed feelings... Don't know how to insert a picture yet! :-(!)

3 steps in thesis writing

1. Discover how bright you are and how important your voice is (your words are).
2. Have an experience in an English-speaking culture, feel comfortable.
3. Work for the “aha-moment”…