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Topic: Thesis writing
I’ve got to get my research proposal out by tomorrow – and I am finding it intensely difficult to get words down onto paper – I know what I want to say – but trying make it sound like sense in a coherent manner is proving to be difficult. Possibly, because I’ve left it to such a last minute moment. Procrastination seems to be creeping up on me – and I don’t like this one bit. I’ve got to get this out of the way. I think I need to structure my proposal – I mean I have the headings and so on – but I don’t think I am clear on what I am going to talk about.
Let me see if I can structure here – because here provides me a more informal area to do it in – without trying to make sure and do it write.
Alright, my biggest problem right now is setting the stage – this is the introduction and background section. Let’s see I need to talk about linear programming since I’m concerned about that – and I must introduce it to people without coming over like a textbook. So, so far, I’ve talked about it as it being taught in several disciplines, used to optimize resources and are part of OR/MS courses.
This is where it becomes difficult. Should I launch into studies of MS/OR … well, I reckon this is the place to do it. After that, I’m at a split – as to whether (i) first discuss that most of these studies were done in the business discipline and in the USA. I do have two studies that are not entirely in the business though – not sure how to incorporate those. Or I can (ii) look at how linear programming is featured in these studies and its importance. This is what I was wondering if I should include a paragraph on linear programming sub-areas in the background – possibly when I’m elaborating on Albritton’s work.
If I do the first then the Jordan et al study will have to come in … if I do the second then their work might be discarded. However, it becomes difficult to justify looking at linear programing particularly in MS/OR courses when it has been found that according to Jordan et al that 53 % of the undergrad and 46 % of the MBA lecturers thought that MS/OR had a small role in their programmes and that Albritton et al found 35 % of their sample had dedicated MS/OR courses.
So, I think I can end there with my background. so, now onto the aims and objectives. Well the aims and objectives are relatively easy. I am aiming to investigate how linear programming is taught in the three disciplines. The research seeks to determine if the methods and sub-areas area are different, as well as whether as if the approaches are dependent on the disciplines and are reflected on the students approaches to studying the topic. Particular focus will be on the use of the different types of software and their usage. The research hopes to provide insight into further research into the approaches to teaching and studying in mathematical topics.
I think what I need now is a rationale. Now the rationale was built up in the background in that (i) the studies had limited work done in other disciplines and as well as other countries (ii)there is little work on how linear programming sub-areas are taught excepting for Albritton et al work. (iii) Albritton et al, Jordan et al, Gunawardane and Gallagher have all mentioned the use of computer in OR/MS course particularly with respect to modelling. Albritton et al mentions the use of spreadsheet modelling and dedicated LP software. Wish to further determine how software has influenced the teaching of linear programming in all its sub-areas, especially when there has been a call within the business discipline to use spreadsheet modelling more.
I think somewhere here I have to mention the different disciplines. I think here we will like to corroborate Lueddeke findings that the soft pure/applied subjects such as social sciences and business will more likely to be student focussed whilst that of hard pure/applied will be more likely to be teacher focussed. With linear programming, this hypothesis can be tested for the same topic, and hence problems will be reducing in looking at topics that are very different. Also, Lindblom-Ylanne et al research that the hard sciences teachers were more likely to be teacher focussed than the soft sciences. That is to check if disciplines had an effect on the teaching approach to linear programming. Hence, may be able to determine the different objectives of the departments in what they intend their students to learn by looking at something that is common to them all.
So, we now come to the research questions. So, now based on the rationale I can set out these to be:
1. Are the approaches to teaching linear programming vary between discipline? In particular:
(a) Do the coverage of linear programming topics differ?
(b) Do the delivery methods of linear programming topics differ?
(c) Do the teaching methods (i.e. student focussed or teacher focussed) of linear programming differ?
2. Do the approaches to teaching linear programming influence the approaches to studying of students?
Alright that should end chapter 1 of the proposal unless I decide to highlight what the other two chapters hold.
Ok, onto Chapter 2 which is the literature review. Well, I got my introductory chapter. This is where I am floundering – I have no idea what to talk about and it is 1250 words at least!
Alright, so, let’s see what the introductory part will be on: it will say I’ll elaborate on literature found on teaching linear programming, particularly that of Smith and that of Mitchell. That is, the expectation of computer usage in linear programming. Secondly, I’ll have to elaborate on the ATI and ASSIST questionnaires. In the ATI, I would talk a bit about its development, recent studies particularly in mathematics, look closer at the Lueddeke and also Lindblom-Ylanne et al work – not sure what else there will be to say. Also, would have to look at the development of the ASI to ASSIST, look at the differences in the ASI for the disciplines. So, let’s start.
The first topic will be “Linear Programming and Software”.
OR/MS literature recognises two type of software when dealing with linear programming. The first is spreadsheet modelling and the second is dedicated software. However, there are traps in both of these software, depending on how it is utilized, the software can promote a black-box approach in student learning. You want to go on explain, what is black box and what the advantages of disadvantages of these may be: take it from Whiteman and Nygren. You may want to explain different types of black-box behaviour (trial and error and just computation). Now, you want to go on to talk about how OR/MS literature particularly in the business disciplines have promoted spreadsheet – which may perhaps generate a black-box behaviour. Now pull in what Winston and Mitchell has said about teaching linear programming for students who are non-business and how they should not be trapped into black-box pattern. So, you want to identified that most likely that teachers in business will use computation black-box software whilst in the other discipline they’ll use a ‘trial and error’ black-box or iteration software.
Second topic will be ATI in various disciplines.
Updated: Thursday, 9 June 2005 5:47 PM BST