Saturday, October 27, 2007

Interviews Complete for Study # 07- 11947

I have finally finished my data-collection process for the dissertation. Wow. I guess that's a pretty big milestone. But when I think about it in the abstract, I don't get a feeling of accomplishment. Instead, I experience more of a feeling of "holy SHIT do I have a lot of work ahead of me." And now the work is all on my shoulders. No longer do I need to wait around for others to respond. This is a good spot to be in, but I am now putting a good amount of pressure on myself to carry though quickly. Pressure is good, at times. Though work gets more and more hectic the longer I'm in the new job...

Let's focus back on the dissertation. When I look at some of the 'hard data' (not that qualitative data are really considered 'hard', but that's another discussion), then I can visualize the accomplishment of finishing the data-collection process a bit better. It is good to celebrate milestones during this process, no matter how small. So, since this blog serves as my doctoral program diary, I share this descriptive information, hither. Did I just write "hither"?
First interview: April 27, 2007
Last interview: October 26, 2007
Hmm. That's exactly six months, isn't it? Weird. I didn't plan that. Granted, there was a three-month hiatus starting around May 29 and ending August 23. That's to be expected during the summer months. Oh yes, and then I moved and started a new job during that hiatus. Interesting. OK, moving on.
# of interviews completed: 16
# of interviews I can use: 14
Average interview time: about 1 hour (OK, that's just a SWAG: some wild-ass guess)
Some of the earlier interviews ended up being lllonnnngggg because this is an exploratory study. I didn't want to cut off anyone. I am not out to prove or disprove a theory; instead I am creating a new theory because I actually do hate myself that much. Later on in the interview process, I probably became more adept at conducting the interview, and I could guide the participant toward information in which I was interested. But looking at the above numbers, this means I pretty much conducted about 16 hours of interviews, or perhaps more. Jesus. Lots of transcriptions ahead of me. I can only use 14 of the 16 interviews, since I learned part-way into a couple of these that they didn't meet my two main criteria for participating in the study. Oh well. Both interviews could contribute to a future research ideas I have, so I decided to conduct those interviews anyhow and just leave their data out of my dissertation.
# of women: 6
# of men: 8
This was surprising to me. It was far more difficult to find female participants for this study. What's surprising is that there simply are more women in college than men. Since August, I have been seeking only women participants for this study because I had too many men. Too many men?? This never happens in higher education research. I wonder if there's a participant gender bias based on the fact that I'm a man. Could potential female participants see my first name as "Robert," and not want to participate? Definitely possible. Vice-versa, perhaps a potential male participant is more interested in participating in this study because I am a man? I've no idea. The funny thing is that this study does not look at gender or racial issues...but those things are of course always present nevertheless.
Descriptors of participants' majors:
major type#
fine arts4
liberal arts5
Note: 6 of the 14 participants were double majors, two of which crossed between different "types" of majors. Thus the total of 16 represented fields by only 14 participants.
Sort of cool to see the variety of majors and such. Not such a bad distribution for a large research university. I'm rather pleased.

OK, it does feel like I've come a long way with this study, now that I see all this laid out here. I am looking forward to when I can concisely respond to the question of, "So Rob, what are you finding as you conduct these interviews?" My thoughts aren't organized enough just yet to share those findings. And I probably won't share the findings on this blog (if you know me, and if you're actually interested in this stuff, then feel free to ask...or not!). That's the point of the data-analysis process. Gotta get through these transcriptions, first. Two and two-halves of the interviews have been transcribed thus far, so only 10 and two halves more to go.

Pardon me while I go type.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Hands getting dirty

I am finally digging into my interview data a bit more. I like saying that..."interview data." It's a nice feeling to have the majority of the data-collection process behind me. Wow, that's different!

The act of transcribing interviews is tedious at times, but after a while of practicing it, the act becomes almost automatic. I can start thinking about what I'm typing as I'm typing it. It's kind of an energetic experience, actually. I find this surprising, as frankly I've been dreading doing these transcriptions. Now that I'm doing them, it's not so bad (you'd think that after all these years of being in school that I'd be able to take on a daunting task without procrastination, but NOOO I still hate just thinking about a big task like that in front of me. Oh well). I'm thankful for the bit of help I'm getting with a few of the transcriptions from a former colleague in SCT. If I can just type up half of the interviews and leave about the other half to Former Colleague, then there's a chance we could be finished with the typing in, say, about three weeks? We shall see.

I'd like to say "After the transcriptions are finished, then it's onto the Data Analysis," but that would be inaccurate. The data analysis has already started; I just need to work to be aware of it and document everything I'm doing. I suppose that's more natural. I mean, do we really ever just do one thing at a time? I think not. The act of being able to think about the participants' responses as I'm typing them up is the first part of the analysis. And for me, as a pretty major extravert, talking about my findings out loud is extremely helpful to my analysis process. My friends and colleagues have been supportive of listening to me and reacting to the things I'm finding, so that's been good. I miss working closer to them in SCT, although I certainly don't miss living there. LOL.

My posts here are getting less frequent. I suspect that will pick up again when I'm in the analysis and writing process some more. Lately I've been conducting interviews (which involves commuting to & from SCT) and doing this minor thing (note my sarcasm) of learning my new job. I'm going to write a separate post later on about the things going on at home with Moose's diet and such (or you can look at Wife's blog for more details). Exhausting, but our lives in general are good. I'm grateful to finally feel some fast motion in the dissertation department again. Yay.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Getting closer

Hi blog. So Interview #11 may not be usable for my study, for a variety of reasons, but it wasn't altogether a bad interview. At least this person showed up! So I still have about four more to go.

But the good news is that my contact at the Honors program panned out. She sent my study invitation out to 15 eligible students, and I've received a decent handful of responses. Suddenly I have five more interviews over the next two Fridays (not counting two days from now). If all of these folks actually show up when they say they will, then I should be all finished with my data collection process on Friday, October 19. Can't WAIT.

Also, I've just hired a former student worker/colleague to help me with transcriptions. This is GREAT news. I hope the data collecting and transcribing processes continue to move onward smoothly. It finally seems like the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter. What a nice feeling. I realize I have a TON of work to do with data analysis (I need some advice from EA!) ahead of me, but this feels like a good spot nevertheless.

At work, I ran the second part of a strategic planning retreat this afternoon. Then, I had an appointment near my house over the lunch hour, so I decided to just come home and work from Chesterley the rest of the day. I'm pleased to be wearing a t-shirt and shorts in the mid afternoon on a weekday, and now I'm going to try and focus on work stuff. I'd rather take a nap, but that'll be my reward. :-) I'm very thankful to have the sort of job where it's acceptable to do what I'm doing this afternoon. Perhaps I'll get into some of my own transcribing later tonight.

Bye blog.