Category Archives: Skills/ Development

BSRLM abstract

I have to put together a 300 word abstract for BSRLM by this afternoon (well deadline is tomorrow but want to get it done today) and I have no idea what to write. I want it to be based on my thesis but the problem is that it is so difficult to cut down something in my thesis to 300 words. I am trying to determine what would be most relevant to BSRLM but can’t figure.

Anyway, I thought I would write something on the analytical framework I used for analysing how students performed on tasks. So, I’m going to use this space to write this. So, here goes.

This paper looks at the development and implementation of a framework for analysing students’ performance on tasks when using mathematical software. Through a literature review, three approaches and one affective factor were identified based on students’ understanding for analysing how students solved tasks and their effect on the students’ performance. These three approaches are 1) processing level approach (deep or surface learning), 2) self-explanation approach (quality of explanations), 3) explorations (extent of using software). The affective behaviour used was mathematics confidence. Using these approaches and affective factor a triangular framework based on the literature was developed which showed that all of these factors were related to performance and their inter-relationships. The literature indicated that only confidence was related to the processing levels but there were not any studies that showed that self-explanations were related to confidence, processing levels or exploration using software. 

Observing 38 students solving conceptual and procedural tasks using software whilst thinking-aloud, the research aimed to determine whether there was a relationship between these approaches and the factors using both qualitative and quatitative data. An updated framework was developed based on the results from this study. Some evidence was found that quality of self explanations was related to the processing levels.  Mathematics confidence was found to be related to software explorations and the quality of self explanations. Software explorations were also found to be related to the quality of self-explanations. The framework can be further used for testing theories on the relationship between performance and how students’ make sense of solving tasks.

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Filed under Main Study, Skills/ Development, Writing

Writing for a Journal Publication

At a workshop on writing. One of the key points that Pat Thompson is making is that there is no such thing as writing up because we don’t know what we’re writing up until we start writing.

The title and abstract are important as most people are selecting to read the article base on this. These are key invitational things that allows the reader to select.

Through writing we’re presenting ourselves as scholars.

By becoming a scholar – sometimes you may have devalued your previous identity before starting as a scholar (particularly for late-life researchers) – but there should be a way of meshing both identities.

The point of a journal paper is a persuasive and argumentative piece not a report on what was done. The conference paper tends to be a report – and thus the journal paper is a different rhetorical task.

Two types of text:

  • Monologic: dead text – does not draw people in (like a laundry list)
  • Dialogic: brings people in to think and engage – this is what research writing is about  i.e. invite the reader in to making meaning and associations such as through references and other themes and other conversations.

Fariclough’s 3 dimensional model of discourse (process of production and interpretation):

  • Layer 1: Text
  • Layer 2: Discourse practice
  • Layer 3: Sociocultural practice

Dissertation: the text is the dissertation, the discourse practice is imparted to the students by the supervisors, and the sociocultural practice is drawn from the supervisors background.

Conference papers: Text is the paper, the discourse practice is the presentation, and the sociocultural practice is the audience.

Some rule of thumbs in deconstructing a journal website:

  • Try and cite the editors from the journal.
  • Read the aims of the journal and analyse what they want from the aims. Make sure you address each of the aims.
  • Check the editorial board and see if they’re from different countries and hence it has a large reach. In the larger reach you need to work from the specific to broader issues.
  • If you’ve never heard of the editorial board you might want to use another journal.
  • Read a couple of papers from the journal and determine what is the conversation of the journal – from this – determine the ideological position and the theories.
  • Have a look at the editor’s interviews (either transcripts or MP3s) that some of the journals have – as they give you what they want
  • Cite papers from the journal
  • Check for stylistic conventions (APA etc)
  • Get people in the know to know the turn around time – such as the refereeing time
  • You may decide on the journal to put in – depending on your career progression – that is – if you need a quick turn around then probably a less famous journal
  • Check the readership of the journal and make sure you address the issues/implications for everyone
  • Reviewers are looking for the “so what” and the “now what”
  • Strongest paper has one argument or one point to make not two or three – state the argument of the paper upfront
  • State the research in the field and how it stands and what you’re going to contribute to it

The genre of the journal article (most has to be like this but not always):

  • Introduction – locate, focus, argument, outline paper
  • Possibly theoretical orientation
  • Literatures
  • Methods – explain report
  • Discuss
  • Conclude

Five moves in a journal abstract:

  • Locate: specific paper in relation to larger project/debates/issues – naming the angle
  • Focus: identify the particular question/issues/kinds of problems that the paper will explore/ examine
  • Anchor: establish the basis for the argument
  • Report: summarise major findings pertinent to the argument
  • Argue: open the argument – the so what question
  • Use the abstract as the plan for writing the paper

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Filed under Journals, Skills/ Development, Writing

Keeping this research blog up-to-date

Mood:  bright
Now Playing: You Raise Me Up (Josh Groban)
Topic: PhD Skills

I’ve decided to ensure that I at least place one entry in this blog a week – so, going to make it every Wednesday. This is to fulfill one of the PhD skills which requires that I keep a research journal/ blog and keep an updated personal-research page … so, got to do that. The blog is easier though 🙂 … but will have to update my personal-research page since it is looking a bit bland.

Updated (Tue, 26th February, 2008 at 2:40 pm) : I noticed people are coming here for deciding how to keep a research journal, they’ve inspired me and I’ve made a post of on Keeping a Research Journal at my Research Tips blog which I just started.


Filed under PhD, Skills/ Development

BSRLM Conference in Lancaster

Mood:  chillin’
Now Playing: Good Vibrations (The Beach Boys)
Topic: Seminars

Well, there is a BSRLM Conference coming up on the 19th November and James suggested I attended it. The abstracts and the programme have now been uploaded to the Internet. I am not quite sure how useful it will upon looking at the abstracts although it will help me to network (one of the requirements of the PhD Skills!) – there are a few abstracts that look somewhat interesting not sure if it is quite up my alley. But saying that, I won’t mind going up to Lancaster!!

Just wondering if it is worth it … probably should just go and see what kind of work and presentations people are doing so I can broaden my scope when I come to think about my methods and research questions. Besides the conference charge is quite cheap (25 pounds before the day or 30 on the day). The train ticket might cost most of the money and I might have to spend overnight. Anyways, I’m meeting with James today, will carry the programme and abstracts when I meet him and see what he thinks.

Come to think of it, not really sure if I’m meeting James, but hopefully I will, since wanted to wait on his input before I sent off the meeting notes (with Doug).

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Filed under PhD, Seminars, Skills/ Development

PhD Skills

Mood:  a-ok
Now Playing: Take Me Home, Country Roads (John Denver)
Topic: PhD Skills

Well had my meeting with Doug yesterday on mostly the PhD skills. James couldn’t make it since he had a problem with his eyes, and John didn’t turn up.

The PhD skills are a bit tedious to go through, but Doug and I did well to plough through the first three sets and decided what I should prepare and how to identify what I can do to accomplish these skills.

In some sense, I’m not sure what the use of it is but I guess they want to ensure everyone’s PhD is standardized and the students come out as a functioning ‘person’ when they graduate rather than being stuck only as a researcher.

In some sense, it was good since there were some stuff I hadn’t considered such as a publication plan and a publication agreement. I think my publication agreement is just going to be everybody names are included unless they want to opt out :).

For some reason they want to ensure that we know about how projects are funding and how funding is acquired. I can’t see the use of it right now, but reckon if I want to go teach and research in a higher education institution it might be useful to know. Perhaps even if I want to do third world development that will be a plus since most of the projects for third world usually have to bid funds from IDB, IMF or one of the UN organisations such as UNDP or UNESCO. So, that might be useful.

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Filed under Meetings, PhD, Skills/ Development, Supervisors