Department of Education Ph.D. candidate, Research Methodology Emphasis, 1st year
Background: I had lived in Israel since the day I was born until immigrating to the United States at the age of twenty-seven. My academic path started in Israel where I obtained a bachelor's degree with a dual major in Human Development in Education and Psychology, and a master's degree in Social-Organizational Psychology. Upon graduation I worked as an occupational psychologist evaluating potential employees' aptness to positions and the cultures of organizations. This was when I realized that the ability to assess ethnic minorities and others coming from different backgrounds while using tests that were calibrated for mainstream cultures is questionable, and my interest in measurement has intensified.
Why did I choose UCSB? The Gevirtz Graduate School of Education (GGSE) at UCSB has a nationally recognized faculty, an outstanding Research Methodology program, and great opportunities for interdisciplinary research (check out the QMSS website, for example). Above all, faculty and staff in our school keep students' best interests, provide support, and professional mentoring. Since I see my years here as the time to build my professionalism, I believe the GGSE is the best place for me to fully invest myself in the next five years.
What are my research projects like/what is a typical day like? I strive to broaden my understanding in the methodology of educational research, and I aim for a thorough investigation of the relationship among acculturation, performance, and measurement. My typical day would perhaps be best described by looking at an entire week. Usually, first year students in our school have classes about two to three days a week. On top of that we have many hours of studying at home: preparing for classes and doing some individual reading. Personally, I feel I have to be organized, manage my time, and keep up with my assignments since with so much going on it is easy to lag behind. Graduate school is challenging, exciting and satisfying - it is a time invested solely in developing my own potential.
What advice do I have for incoming students to the Department? Familiarize yourself with the school's superb faculty and staff, your colleagues, and the many resources in the GGSE and at UCSB. Everything around you is for you to utilize; just be passionate, show interest and willingness, and grasp the opportunities. Good luck.
Department of Education Ph.D. candidate, Special Education, Disability, and Risk Studies, 2nd year
Background: I always knew I wanted to work in the field of Education and, as such, I have been working with children in various capacities since I was in high school. I graduated from UCLA with a major in American Literature and Culture and a minor in Education. After that, I worked in general education, teaching mostly high school classes for two years, but also working with children with special needs during the summers and weekends. I then attended Stanford University where I earned my MA in Social Sciences in Education. I also earned my Education Specialist credential and was a Special Education teacher for seven years in the San Francisco Bay Area before enrolling at UCSB to purse my doctorate in Special Education, Disability, and Risk Studies.
Why Did I Choose UCSB? There is a true sense of camaraderie among all involved in our department, among both faculty and students. I feel the faculty members are inviting and very happy to provide us with opportunities that further our own individual course of study. During my first year, I was even afforded the opportunity to participate in two research projects, which greatly helped me develop a sense of my own research goals. Further, this has enabled me to focus on learning both the relevant literature and the research methodology to accomplish these goals. The faculty is renowned and truly dedicated to improving the field of Education through research.
What are my research projects/what is a typical day like? Currently, I am working on a research project with my advisor that is a longitudinal study investigating the growth curves/trajectories of English Language Learners at risk for reading disabilities and/or difficulties. I am also extremely interested in the neurophysiology of learning disabilities and am hoping to begin a research project in this area within the next two years.
A typical day for me either involves spending the day in classes or the computer lab or a combination of both. I take classes two days a week and when I’m not in class, I can often be found in Ada’s Lab, our 24 hour computer lab. Indeed, I may have met at least half of my friends just by spending time in there. I split my time between my class work and my research projects depending upon what is given the highest priority at the time (or simply what is most enjoyable at the moment). Additionally, I also work with people with disabilities one or two evenings per week.
What advice do I have for incoming students to the Department? Meet people. Then spend time talking with them. It seems as if everyone here has one of the most exciting research projects and they are all happy to share their knowledge with you. Whether it is bouncing ideas off of one another, working out a difficult statistical problem, or learning about new opportunities, the people (both faculty and students) are your greatest resource. They may inform you of a compelling workshop of which you were unaware or remind you of a social gathering just for fun. You may even simply stand in the hallway talking about the weekend. Regardless of your emphasis and your particular area of study, it truly is the people that make attending UCSB an amazing experience.
Department of Education Ph.D. candidate, Teaching and Learning Emphasis, (Language, Literacy and Composition Studies specialization) 2nd year
Background: I am originally from Ohio and graduated from Wittenberg University as an English major. My initial interest was fiction writing, and so I went on to earn an M.A. in English from Iowa State University and an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of California, Irvine. Over time, I became interested in the different literacies that are learned and taught at the academy, and how this connects with literacies acquired outside the academy. I carried this interest with me to Egypt, where I taught composition and creative nonfiction at the American University in Cairo for four years. While there, I became involved with revisions to my department’s writing minor. This involvement introduced me to issues faced by emergent writing departments as they claim writing as a disciplinary site for research, practice and pedagogy. I was also interested in how creative writing and other academic literacies worked together in the department where I worked. While in Egypt, I was also struck by the sociocultural implications of developing an American-style writing department at an American-style institution in the heart of the Middle East.
Why did I choose UCSB? I was initially attracted to GGSE because of the presence of Dr. Charles Bazerman, who is highly regarded in the field of writing studies. As I looked more closely at the program requirements, however, I also became excited by the emphasis in research methods. I felt that courses providing explicit training in methods would allow me to learn the methods before applying them onto live research projects. Since arriving, I have been very pleased by the faculty with whom I have worked closely, including Jason Raley, Karen Lunsford, Jin Sook Lee and Linda Adler-Kassner.
What are my research projects like/what is a typical day like? I am currently working on several projects with faculty. For one, I am working with Linda Adler-Kassner and a cohort of GGSE graduate students and Writing Program faculty on research into student metacognitive strategies in writing development. I participated in several focus groups, transcribed some of the recordings, and am now coding the transcripts. With Karen Lunsford, I have been involved with research into instructor commentary on composition essays, and am presently assisting her as she takes on guest editorship for the online journal Kairos. These projects are good preparation for my upcoming independent project, which will focus on the history of a writing department at a key moment of transition. I find that these projects fill in the few spare hours in my week, which is usually packed with classes, work, exercising at the gym, and plenty of reading and writing.
What advice do I have for incoming students to the Department? Cultivate relationships with faculty and fellow students. Get enough exercise and sleep—the myth of the sleep-deprived, unhealthy graduate student is, in my view, apocryphal. And understand that one of the hardest parts of this process is the need for patience.
Department of Education Ph.D. candidate, Teaching and Learning Emphasis, 3rd year
Background: I was born and raised in South Korea until I moved to UCSB for graduate studies. Previously, I was an elementary school teacher for approximately three and a half years in Korea. During my teaching, I was fascinated with the development of how children learn a second and foreign language and how teachers play a key role in their language acquisition. While I was teaching, I also earned my M.A. in Elementary English Education and worked on my Ph.D. at Korea National University of Education. My experiences, both professional and academic, brought me to UCSB so that I could further my understanding of second and foreign language education for children.
Why did I choose UCSB? This question was one most frequently asked by my colleagues, and my answer is simply, I LIKE UCSB. There are a number of reasons as to why I like studying at UCSB: the presence of excellent faculty whom I can consult with regarding my research interests, the opportunity to work with faculty across departments through the interdisciplinary emphases such as applied linguistics and human development, the supportive environment among the student body at GGSE, and the well-structured organization (OISS) for international students. While these are only a few, I am sure there will be more to come during my continued studies at UCSB .
What are my research projects like/what is a typical day like? Currently, I am involved in a project researching the dual language development of Korean and Mexican children. We examine how various social interactions, resources, and structures of different home and school settings have an influence on children’s dual language development. In comparison, my independent project focuses on teacher development in the field of ESL or EFL (English as a Second or Foreign Language) and asks the following question: What is the minimum or appropriate level of EFL proficiency for teachers in order to maximize students’ English learning in elementary schools?
As a graduate student, my typical day begins with consulting my schedule book to see what appointments, assignments, and deadlines I need to complete. Graduate school is full of responsibilities and there is much to accomplish, however, these responsibilities depend on what goals you plan to achieve as a graduate student, and how much you are willing to dedicate yourself.
What advice do I have for incoming students to the Department? Don’t be afraid. I regret the chances I let slip away because I was afraid of making mistakes. There are many doors ahead of us, and we have only to push and open them. There is no need to worry about what is behind, we need only to knock and open as many doors as possible in order to take full advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead.
Department of Education Ph.D. candidate, Child and Adolescent Development Emphasis, 3rd year
Background: I earned my undergraduate degree from UCLA in the fields of Psychology and Sociology. I also minored in Applied Developmental Psychology, which afforded me an opportunity to intern as a student-teacher working with 3-month to 3-year-old children. After graduating, I worked as an Assistant Lead Teacher at another nationally accredited preschool program. My work with children has strongly influenced my research interests on best practices when working with young children. I would like my research to inform how teachers practice in schools and how parents practice at home.
Why did I choose UCSB? I chose UCSB because I felt a sense of community amongst the faculty members. I want to be in an environment where colleagues treat each other well. Not only are the faculty members supportive of each other, they are extremely catering to the individual needs of each student. Furthermore, out of the programs that I applied to, UCSB offered me the greatest range of research and teaching opportunities. I wanted to teach and have been very fortunate to have been offered opportunities to be a teaching assistant.
What are my research projects like/what is a typical day like? I am currently proposing my independent research project. I am interested in studying how young children make sense of what others are thinking (i.e., theories of mind) and how that relates to their conflict management skills. I am also helping with data collection on a cross-national study of young children’s conflict management skills. For me, there really is no “typical” day. As a teaching assistant, most of days involve meetings with faculty members and students. When not in meetings, I try to work on my research proposal or do things for myself (e.g., go to the gym, rest, eat at a new restaurant).
What advice do I have for incoming students to the Department? Be proactive and take time to get to know the faculty here. By expanding your research interests to encompass what some of the faculty are doing (outside of your emphasis) will open doors for so many invaluable learning opportunities. However, it is also important to recognize your limits and know when you have a full plate of work! Lastly, your fellow colleagues are truly the most important part of graduate school. They are there as sounding boards and offer emotional support when you need a bit of extra push to get your work done.