Saturday, April 16, 2005

Feedback on Qualifying Exams

At long last, the faculty spoke yesterday. I passed the written portion of my qualifying exams with mixed reviews, but all I had to do was pass. I believe the faculty were quite fair.

And now it's onto the oral defense, to be scheduled if one of my committee members decides to return to the university from his sabbatical this semester.

The wide range of feedback was fascinating. I can practically hear the faculty base arguing with itself. I'll describe, below. Remember, there were two questions.

For the first question, the same one my three colleagues received, my response was read by my committee members (2) plus the question's author and one other professor. I received two marks of "outstanding" and two marks of "acceptable." My advisor gave one of the "outstanding" marks, while my other committee member called it "acceptable." I would have given myself the "acceptable" mark, frankly, so I was grateful for my advisor's gusto in his kind words. One faculty member called my response, "Acceptable, but not strong." Funny, if it were strong, then wouldn't it be "outstanding?" That looked rather silly next to the two "outstanding" marks.

The second question, the one I wrote myself, was read only by my two committee members. This time, their feedback was flip-flopped. My advisor called it "acceptable," while my other committee member (also the director of the office where I work) called it "outstanding." Again, I would have given myself an "acceptable" mark, so I'm grateful for some "outstanding" feedback. Though I'm not sure I deserve it, as these certainly weren't the best things I've written.

Am looking forward to the oral defense (next month, I hope) and then moving on "officially" into the dissertation phase. Yeah, I'll believe it when I see it. Life without classes? Not sure I remember that.


Cousin Dave said...

Wooohooo! Another step towards Piled Higher and Deeper! I always found you to be "Outstanding", as well as "acceptable".

Rob said...

Aw shucks, Cousin. Thanks! :)

lemming said...

Quals are a sick and twisted process. One prof, from whom I'd taken three classes, had always written "excellent and inciteful analysis" on my papers. On my qual evaluation, he noted that "my analysis skills have always been weak."

Rob said...

Wow - spooky! Yeah, seems like this is just a big hula hoop.

What's really funny now is that my second question, the one that's supposed to be in my research interests, is nowhere near my new dissertation topic. This defense will be interesting...