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Advising Thesis Students

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This presentation was used as the basis for a workshop with faculty who advise social work Master's students.

This presentation was used as the basis for a workshop with faculty who advise social work Master's students.

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Advising Thesis Students Advising Thesis Students Presentation Transcript

  • ADVISING THESIS STUDENTS WHO HAVE LEARNING ISSUES © Mary Beth Averill, LICSW, Ph.D.
  • Presented February 7, 2009 Smith College School for Social Work Spring Research Advisors’ Meeting
  • Introduction • Liminality • Professionalization • Evidence-based practice
  • Introduction (cont.) • Processing differences – How advisee takes information into the brain – How advisee handles information in the brain – How advisee handles information output
  • Introduction (cont.) • Huge project • Isolation-real or perceived • Anxiety and comparisons • A lot to handle
  • What we will cover today • Why we are having this workshop – Case examples – Red flags • Research Advising as teaching • Strategies to use with advisees with learning issues • Tools • Putting it all together
  • And how we will do that • Slide show/lecture • Experiential exercises • Discussion • Demonstrations • Q&A • Handouts • Other resources
  • Laser-like case examples
  • Red flags • Your red flags
  • Red flags • Your red flags • Advisee doesn’t contact you the first week of placement • Advisee misses the proposal deadline • Advisee misses the LR chapter deadline • Advisee hasn’t given you a draft of the HSR application by mid December • Advisee drops out of sight (doesn’t call, doesn’t write)
  • Research Advising is Teaching • Understand what students take with them from Research Methods class • Become educated about ADD/LD • Think about all the ways students acquire information • Ask advisee about learning style early on • Ask advisee what kinds of help she needs – Who could help you with that?
  • Types of learners • Visual learners • Auditory learners • Read-write learners • Kinesthetic learners
  • Visual learners • Characteristics – Fast talkers – Exhibit impatience – Tendency to interrupt – Use words and phrases that evoke images – Learn by seeing and visualizing
  • Auditory learners • Characteristics – Speak slowly – Tend to be natural listeners – Think in a linear manner – Prefer to have things explained verbally rather than reading written information – Learn by listening and verbalizing
  • Read-write learners • Characteristics – Prefer information to be displayed in writing, such as a list of ideas or instructions – Emphasize text-based input and output – Enjoy reading and writing
  • Kinesthetic learners • Characteristics – Tend to be the slowest talkers of all – Tend to be slow to make decisions – Use all their senses to engage in learning – Learn by doing and by solving real life problems – Like a hands-on approach – Learn by doing
  • What kind of learner are you? • You may have parts of each of the types, but pick the one you most identify with. • Go stand with others in that group. • Discuss – Strategies for working with this kind of learner – What types of learners are the most difficult for you to advise? (learning types modified from Friedman, 2008)
  • What did you notice from doing this exercise? Discuss strategies. These learning styles apply to everyone, not just people with special learning issues.
  • What’s going on for people with ADD? • Executive functioning is impaired in 6 areas: – Activation: organizing, prioritizing, and activating to work – Focus: focusing, sustaining, and shifting attention to tasks – Effort: regulating alertness, sustaining effort, and processing speed
  • Executive functioning impairment (cont.) Emotion: managing frustration and modulating emotion Memory: utilizing working memory and accessing recall Action: monitoring and self-regulating action from Brown (2005, p. 22)
  • Other learning disabilities Impairments in • Language systems • Spatial and sequential ordering systems • Motor systems • Higher thinking systems • Social thinking systems (see Levine, A mind at a time)
  • Other issues • Physical disabilities – Hearing – Sight – Energy • Undiagnosed
  • What works Initially • Ask about learning style or issues • Diagnosis • Contact – Start early in September (or at end of summer session) – Frequent contacts – You may need to initiate more at first – You may need more than 3 meetings – Don’t take on too much in any one meeting • Ask advisees to use style manual and grad school guidelines format from the start
  • What works (cont.) • Write from the start (17, 64, 157) – Every day, 15-30 minutes – Writing journal (―My new best friend‖) • Date • Time • What you did (phrase) • Where to start tomorrow • Other – Check in with someone on a regular basis
  • What works (cont.) As the first semester continues • Set intermediate deadlines and help advisee work back – For proposals due in the fall, what are the steps to take to meet the deadline? When will your advisee have to do each of these steps? – What will the student need to do to submit her HSR by the deadline? • Break big projects down into very small, really doable pieces • See the big picture: spread out on a wall, large table, large bulletin board
  • What works (cont.) • Find a really good model • Get advisee to find different models for different parts of the thesis • Agenda setting for meetings – ask advisees about their agendas every time at beginning of meeting – this gives them a better sense of control and more buy in • At end of meeting with advisee, have the advisee make a list of next steps.
  • What works (cont.) • Get the student to be very specific about what she will do and when. Use SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Action oriented, Realistic , Time-lined). • Ask your advisee to email you the list • Stick to deadlines • Give positive feedback at every step along the way
  • What works (cont.) • Work from a plan – regular outline – Post it note outlines – Webs – Topic Sentence outline – What are the ideas you want to cover in this chapter? • Putting a lot of thought into data collection instrument up front makes the data analysis much easier than if there is not adequate thought
  • What works (cont.) • Resources – Books about ADD and/or LD – Books: grammar, literature reviews, APA – Handouts – Online resources • Outside help – Editor – Proofreader – Writing coach – testing
  • What else can help? • Group meetings – use bridge line instead of speaker phone • Working with others, if not with you • Get info in through senses: color coding, tactile (literally cut and paste), auditory (talk things out with a tape running in the background), grounding (change position, walk before writing, write standing up, etc.) • Repeat info/directions in a variety of ways • Build in exercise • Low stakes writing—zero drafts
  • When problems arise • Try to see problems from advisee’s point of view & verbalize it • Watch for anxiety and shame • Write letters to advisees who miss deadlines • Paper trail is important • Check in with faculty field advisor • Plan for an easy month when final project is due.
  • Particularly about the thesis • A clearly thought out, well articulated statement of purpose is essential • Be aware that you may have to explain things that you see as givens: – How to write a clear statement of purpose – What goes in each chapter – Parts of a sentence – Verb tenses – How to find out prior research – Primary sources
  • Human Subjects Review • Are all the pieces there? – Application – Informed consents – Sample recruitment materials – Data collection instruments – Referral list , – Letters from agencies
  • Human Subjects Review • Did they follow the directions in the User's Guide (or other grad school or department supplied document) instead of just copying someone else's? • Did they think about their research from the participant's point of view?
  • Tools • 5 minute writing exercise • Post it outline • Topic sentence outline • Powerful questions
  • Powerful Questions • The Exception Question: ―When has working on the thesis not been a problem for you?’ • The Consultant Question: ―What would you recommend that someone else in the same situation might do?‖ • The Small-Step Question: ―What is one small step you can take to move ahead?‖ – Pair this question with ―When will you do it?‖ and ―How will you let me know you’ve done it?‖
  • Powerful questions (cont.) • The Coping Question: ―How have you prevented this situation from getting worse?‖ • The Miracle Question: ―If you did not have this problem, how would life be different for you?‖ adapted from Johnson and Conyers (2001, p. 79)
  • Putting it all together •Q&A • Evaluation
  • Bibliography • Brown, T. E. (2005). Attention deficit disorder: The unfocused mind in children and adults. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. *Good explanation of what’s going on in the brain. • Friedman, B. D. (2008). How to teach effectively: A brief guide. Chicago: Lyceum Books. *Discusses the four learning styles. • Galvan, J. L. (2006). Writing literature reviews, 3rd edition. Glendale, CA: Pyrczak Publishing. *Excellent reference for how to write literature reviews. • Hallowell, E. M., & Ratey, J. J. (2006). Delivered from distraction: Getting the most out of life with attention deficit disorder. New York: Ballantine Books. *My favorite book for basic understanding of ADD.
  • • Hallowell, E. M., & Ratey, J. J. (1994). Driven to distraction: Recognizing and coping with attention deficit disorder from childhood through adulthood. New York: Simon & Schuster. *A lot of what’s covered in this book has been updated in their more recent books, but I still find their list of 100 diagnostic questions (pp. 209-214) and their 50 tips to manage ADD (pp. 245-253) to be excellent resources. • Jensen, E. (1998). Teaching with the brain in mind. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervisions and Curriculum Development. • Johnson, R. W., & Conyers, L. M. (2001). Surviving the doctoral dissertation: A solution-focused approach. Journal of College Counseling, 4, 77-80. *Excellent short paper, presents some powerful questions to use with your students. • Levine, M. (2002). A mind at a time. New York: Simon & Schuster. *If you want to get the basic information about learning disabilities, this is the book to read.
  • • Levine, M.(2005). Ready or not, here life comes! New York: Simon & Schuster. *Chapter 9, ―Instrumentation: Equipping a mind’s toolbox‖ offers useful skill building strategies. • Luna, C. (2002). Learning from diverse learners: (Re)writing academic literacies and learning disabilities in college. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 45(7), 596-605. • Miller, A. B. (2009). Finish your dissertation once and for all! How to overcome psychological barriers, get results, and move on with your life. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association. • Nadeau, K. G. (1994). Survival guide for college students with ADD or LD. Washington, DC: Magination Press.*May be a useful resource for our students, especially the section on ―Helping Yourself.‖
  • • Nathan, R. (2005). My freshman year. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. • O’Conner, P. T. (2003). Woe is I: The grammarphobe’s guide too better English in plain English, revised edition. New York: Riverhead Books. *My favorite grammar book, easy to read. • Quinn, P. O. (1994). ADD and the college student: A guide for high school and college students with attention deficit disorder. Washington, DC: Magination Press. *Good discussion of accommodations and legal rights. • Roberts, C. M. (2004). The dissertation journey. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
  • • Szuchman, L. T., & Thomlinson, B. (2008). Writing with style: APA style for social work, 3rd ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson Brooks/Cole. * A good workbook to help students with APA and sections of the thesis. • www.freeaudioconferencing.com web address where you can go to sign up for a free bridge line for online groups with your advisees •
  • • Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab) at http://owl.english.purdue.edu/ has lots of helpful print able handouts such as – Social Work Literature Review Guidelines – Transitions and Transitional Devices – Creating a Thesis Statement – Proofreading Your Writing – Higher Order Concerns (HOCs) and Lower Order Concerns (LOCs)