I think a good place to begin my reentry into regularly scheduled writing is to show you guys what I've been up to since September. I wrote a fairly in-depth review of my first semester over at my other blog, process>product. The latest semester featured three different classes including statistics (Applied Multiple Regression & Categorical Data Analysis), Applied Developmental Psychology, and Comparative Evaluation Theories and I'd like to think this semester was another positive step in my own development as a careful thinker and nuanced writer. I wasn't able to write for the blog very often because each semester featured several long writing assignments on top of the pages and pages of reading and other assignments I got to tackle each week. I'd like to share some of that writing with you. Here are the major papers (not including stats homework write-ups, which sometimes entered the realm of paper-length) from my first year of grad school. Feel free to download and read them at your leisure if you're curious:
1. Foundations of Positive Psychology - "The Rise of Coworking: Positive Psychology, Flow, and Meaningful Work"
The capstone paper of my Foundations of Positive Psychology class was a 13-page effort investigating any concept we discussed in class and a proposal to do further research. I've been very interested in coworking for awhile now and have used it in several contexts (as you'll see) in my academic writing. In this paper I propose an introductory study to begin understanding why people seem to enjoy working in coworking spaces as opposed to home offices, libraries, or cafes. I look at the idea of cultivating flow in our work and how coworking spaces may facilitate that process. I also present an idea of thinking about coworking spaces as more than just places to work, but as hubs of positive psychology in the greater community. Looking back on the paper I realize my proposed research project is a little bit untenable, especially for an initial foray into the subject. It can be drastically improved by simplifying the overall approach and utilizing more of an exploratory method since it would be the first academic look at coworking.
2. Introduction to Research Methods - "The Effects of Coworking on Subjective Well-Being"
This was kind of a strange paper. The final paper in this class was to simply write a research proposal on any topic we wished. However, this paper was kind of unique in that the actual content didn't matter (as long as it was fairly well-written and logical) because we were being graded on our ability to create a properly formatted APA-style paper. I write about the research proposal I discussed in the above paper in greater detail. Kind of a strange paper, but another example of how I'm using the idea of coworking and coworking spaces to advance positive psychology. BONUS: The Prezi for the presentation I gave to my class.
3. Foundations of Evaluation - "An Evaluation of American Development Model Implementation"
This class was my first foray into the science of evaluation. Our professor was possibly the most eminent evaluation scholar alive and his class was incredibly difficult to follow. Our final assignment was to describe the way we would evaluation a fictional or real program. I decided to look at the USA Hockey American Development Model which was a program to change the way U.S. youth hockey operates. I described a fictional evaluation in which a specific youth hockey organization is evaluated on how well they've implemented the ADM as it was intended. Even several short months beyond the completion of this paper my knowledge and understanding of evaluation is much better than it was when I wrote this. I see an almost never-ending list of ways I could improve this paper.
4. Comparative Evaluation Theories - "Theorist Papers: Carol Weiss, Michael Scriven, Michael Quinn Patton, Jennifer Greene"
In this class we had to write a series of small papers describing and critiquing various evaluation theorists. Each paper was relatively short and followed the same format. We had to look at each of these evaluators and be able to role-play their positions in an in-class debate. Each of these evaluators are known for something different within the field of evaluation. For example, Michael Quinn Patton developed Utilization-Focused Evaluation which is built around the idea that the only good evaluation is an evaluation that actually gets used by stakeholders. Carol Weiss is well-known for her work on evaluation at the policy level. Scriven is kind of like the Godfather of evaluation.
5. Applied Developmental Psychology - "Predictors of Success in the Knowledge Economy Other than IQ: Are Schools Preparing Students for Life in the Real World?"
This was the main intellectual baby I birthed this semester. I really respect the professor and wanted to make sure I turned in something that truly reflected my abilities. Of course, as I say that and look over the paper I see ways I could have made it better. In this paper I look at three characteristics that I think predict success in a typical knowledge-economy job (if there is such a thing) and propose a study to determine if these characteristics are being supported in schools. I look at the idea of grit (essentially sticking with something even when it gets difficult), initiative (the ability to set goals and start projects), and growth mindset (viewing failure as an opportunity to improve and not as something to be avoided at all costs). You'll be seeing more about these three ideas in the coming weeks on the blog because I think they're really important and represent some interesting work being done in positive psychology.
If you actually read all of those papers you're either a.) already in grad school and therefore a glutton for punishment, b.) really need something more exciting to do, or c.) need to apply to a graduate program in psychology because you evidently like this stuff more than most people. Those of you who may be graduate students or have experienced graduate school might be wondering if any of these were actual papers (i.e. published). I'm in an MA program that doesn't require me to publish or do research. All of these papers were just assignments done for class. One of my major projects this summer is to figure out if I'm going to apply to a PhD program or just stick with the MA program I'm currently in. If I end up going the PhD route I'll obviously be writing papers for publication and doing unique research.
Does one of these papers or ideas resonate with you? Do you have any questions about these papers or want to know more about any of the ideas within them? Leave your thoughts in the comments below and I'd be happy to elaborate.