Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Snip, snip, snip

I think I have one of the world's best head for a thesis committee.  On "day one", when I first got back to write my thesis, Dr. Pete Unseth asked me when I was planning to finish.  I said, "Maybe at the end of this term in June, maybe in December."  He said, "Let's aim for June. A finished thesis is a good thesis."  Since then he has guided me through the process of writing drafts and submitting them to the other two members of my committee.

I got a bit carried away with the theory before Easter. I had six research questions in my thesis, and in order to discuss the first three, I needed a better understanding of statistical reliability.  I felt like I had hit a wall.  A little after Easter, with God's help, I felt I had scaled the wall (Psalm 18:21).  I had a theoretical breakthrough.  Using a matrix of covariance between the results of individual questions on three separate tests, I could describe how the internal reliability and the equivelance reliability were related.  (Don't worry, you don't need to understand this to follow the rest of the story!)  I wrote and wrote and wrote describing the theory and the implications for my data.  Then I turned it in to Dr. Steve Walter for his review.

Early May, I went in to have a meeting with Dr. Pete and Dr. Steve.  I had just gone through Dr. Steve's review of the results of my thesis.  There were several places where we had discussed how I needed extra supporting data for the discussion of the first three research questions.  We discussed the theory a bit, but I was beginning to think that I didn't have enough theoretical background to support my discussion of research question 3.  I suggested we cut this research question.  Dr. Steve thought research questions 1 and 2 also needed further support and were less helpful. 

Dr. Pete asked what surveyors would actually benefit from these research questions.  As I explained what I had learned, I realized from the expressions on Dr. Pete and Dr. Steve's faces that it still needed a good deal more development to be useful. Suddenly I had an idea.  "What if I cut out all three of research questions 1 through 3?"  I asked.  Really, the most practical and applicable part of the study were research questions 4 through 6.  Without all the baggage of partially developed theory for research questions 1 through 3, we all thought maybe I could finish this thesis this term.  With it . . . probably not.

I got out my digital scissors and cut out forty pages of material. (Double spaced)

About a month later, Dr. Pete met me at my desk in the library (see earlier blog post for a photo of me at my desk). We went outside to chat (it isn't recommended to talk in the library).   As we sat at the picnic table, Dr. Pete told me that Dr. Steve had been reading another draft of my thesis, and there was some theoretical material in it that he wasn't quite sure was fully supported.  Basically it was defend with this material, or defend in June, but not both.  I had not thought I was really adding much, but I knew at that moment what my choice would be.

Maybe someday I will choose to publish articles on those other topics.  Maybe surveyors will benefit from those things that I have learned.  But for now, my goal is to have a finished thesis.  Bring on the digital scissors!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Mr. Yoder Roller Coaster

You can be sure, any time of the day,
You’ll find Mr. Yoder, in the libraray,
With computer lit up, furrowed brow,
Shows you not to interrupt right now!
He starts early, coming home a bit late,
Bedraggled and hungry, I patiently wait,
‘Til at last he darkens our trailer door,
A sigh of relief, “I’ve lived one day more!”
He dramatically utters with a smile worn,
We eat then sleep, til the new day is born.
 Day in and day out, this is the roller coaster life here,
Every moment is terribly exciting or dreadfully drear,
There’s no in between for our emotions are high!
As the big day of thesis defense does draw nigh!
The Yoder family will come, and we’ll horray!
That done are Mr. Yoder’s long days in the libraray! 

Go Away!

T here were children. Always so many children. Our children are a magnet for other children and so everywhere we go, they follow us giggling...