So here is my little ugly duckling of a dissertation proposal, with data collection planned for this Fall. Wish me luck! Of course my hope is that it grows into a swan that helps push the field forward on theoretical, methodological, and practical levels, but, to be perfectly honest, I'll be glad even if it grows into a little larger ugly duck.
Tentative Title: The Influence of Peer Review on Writing Achievement and Individual Writing Self-Efficacy
Draft Abstract: This study will examine the influence of peer feedback and review on individual writing achievement and self-efficacy. Undergraduate first-year composition students will engage in normal instructional activities, using the Eli Review program in order to conduct peer feedback and review sessions. Using the data collected from surveys and through the web-based peer review system Eli Review, the influence of giving and receiving writing feedback in peer review groups on both individual writing achievement and individual self-efficacy will be modeled using a multilevel, social-network analysis methodology. The influence of other possible mediating variables also will be explored, including: the influence of the instructor; the influence of outside help such as roommates, family members, or use of the university writing center, and the individual’s prior achievement. This study will contribute to understanding the influence of peers in the writing peer feedback cycle as well as the ways in which writing achievement and self-efficacy are influenced.
Writing is happening. I am currently plugging away at my dissertation proposal. I know this varies from department to department, so I will quickly give the run-down of what I understand to be the expectations of my department, adviser, and committee for this document. In terms of length, I’ve seen a big variation with the lower end running 60 pages and the upper to 120. My current draft includes the first four chapters of my dissertation: 1) an introduction to the study, 2) a lit review 3) A run-down of my proposed study (aka method goodness) 4) Everything else: significance, limitations, ethical issues, etc. Plus a whole batch of appendices. So that’s what I have drafted in various stages of completeness at this moment. I still have at least a few more weeks of writing and revising, but I am still hoping it will be all defended this semester and I’ll be collecting data in January (wish me luck!).
But this post is really to catalog for myself and others the way I am handling my workflow through this process. Anyone who has read me at Gradhacker knows that I am a sucker for a good workflow. I have generally maintained my lit review process, but I’ve found even more fun ways of hacking my writing workflow to make it feel more fun and seemingly more efficient. I’ve been tracking my word rate, so I eventually should have some data to support my general feeling that I’m faster (even without that, I’m definitely having fun writing, so there’s that.).
Writing tools: Scrivener, Mendeley, Timer, Random Number Generator, Study app (links below)
So that’s it: the method to my madness. I’m resolving to also blog some of the actual content of my proposal in the coming weeks as I work through my study design issues and lit review.