Monday, April 6, 2009

Pilot Study

I have spent quite a large chuck of time this semester working on the pilot study for my dissertation.  A pilot study is also known as a feasibility study.  It allows the researcher to test run the instruments, assessment tools and/or methodology that will be later used for the grand study that will ultimately bring you to the completion of a Ph.D. program.

The pilot study paper is written like a mini dissertation.  It generally follows the five chapter structure of introduction, review of literature, research methods, research findings and discussion.

The absolute beauty of reaching this level of scholarly achievement is that the focus of your research is entirely up to you.  So, you are free to delve deeply into an area that you are passionate about. This is a good thing as you will be living with it for years.  (I am reminded of the phrase that doctoral students often repeat as they near the end "A good dissertation is a done dissertation".)

The title of my pilot study is Case studies of first grade Deaf readers: Looking at knowledge of conceptual signs and reading comprehension.  I had a different, rather catchy title there for a while but it was deemed too vague - no one could tell what my study was about.  I decided to go with the above title (for now) and save my clever, witty title for a book or at least a chapter in my dissertation.  I won't give it away just yet lest it be borrowed by some other fledgling researcher, can you imagine the horror?!

I chose to do a qualitative case study of two culturally Deaf first grade students and simply observe and describe how they use their knowledge of American Sign Language while they read independent & instructional level texts.

The new challenge of this for me was going through the process of gaining approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB). In order to do any study with human subjects you must submit a proposal, gain permission from the subjects or their parents, the school (setting) and from the district.

I am told that completed pilot studies can be reformatted and submitted to educational journals for publication or academic conferences as presentations. It seems there are quite a few possibilities, especially if your area of study is the 'hot' topic at the moment.

We'll see.

For now, I am thoroughly enjoying the process and give thanks to those who are supporting me through it all; Dr. Marshall George, Dr. Joanna Uhry, Rebecca Marshall, Lauren Ridloff - Happy Birthday - and my fellow doctoral students (especially Cortney, Cayne and Linda).

What a fantastic journey!

10 comments:

Dumdad said...

Bon courage!

Mum's the word said...

I'm looking forward to reading all about your progress and the results.
Good luck.

Ms. Steffens said...

You rock Gary! Keep up the good work. Think of the celebration at the end of this journey

Barbara said...

This is the way dissertations should be done. Too many people are panicked for a topic, panicked to get a dissertation written and defended, and generally panicked through the whole process. You're just doing what you normally do at work with a couple of kids to help you. I love it!

Kellyann Brown said...

I'm with you every step of the way, Gary! Right now I am finishing my Chapter 2 and working on my methodology ... I will be doing a qualitative study on adults. I can't imagine all the work to use "protected" subjects such as children! Alors! I am having trouble with my title too... it's a bit... specific and boring, so I have shelved it until something better comes along!

Gary said...

Dumdad - I love it when you speak (write) French.

Mum - Thanks, you are very kind. I am currently settling down, during my spring break, to do my transcriptions. I am grateful for the time.

Cortney - No, you are an inspiration!! (that is in response to your facebook comment). Everytime I do something perfectly right I say "I pulled a Cortney".

Barbara - Exactly. I am doing this because I love it. However, it would be nice if NYC gave some kind of monetary reward for those of us who pursue higher degrees. Right now I am maxed out with a masters plus 30 credits.

Kellyann -THANKS for commenting. I had no idea. You are further along than I am. It'll be at least a year before I take comps and move into dissertation seminar. Congratulations to you. Titles are difficult because they must state what you are doing in one or two sentences. I think they are supposed to be specific and boring by nature. But perhaps you and I will change all that!! Please keep me posted on your progress.

Sara said...

I am beyond thrilled for you :)

Hey - send me an email - first name dot last name at rit dot edu

--Sara

lettuce said...

not sure this is insight or inspiration gary!

but i'm glad you are enjoying it.
its quite a process
and your area sounds so interesting

what is "culturally deaf"?

Gary said...

Letty - There are two ways to view deafness. One is from a medical perspective and one is cultural. Culturally deaf means that the family is immersed in the deaf community, uses American Sign Language as a mode of communication and sees nothing 'wrong' with being deaf. It is written with a captial "D" to indicate a cultural deaf perspective. Of course there is more to it than that.

Thanks for the question. It is one I will have to define in my research as well.

WAT said...

Damn you are so smart. Intelligence is attractive. I enjoy people who can engage me and keep me interested in conversation for at least 10 years or more! LOL!

Okay soon-to-be Dr.

All the best to you.

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