As I reflect back on this semester and my readings, I did my very best to journal my thoughts on the assigned readings, not merely choosing to regurgitate my readings, but rather what I truly learned from such readings.
Impostorism, at its root, is about an inability to accurately self-assess with regard to performance. As a new doctorate student this statement accurately identifies me. There are times that I feel confident in my knowledge, only to feel that confidence taken away in a moment’s notice. I don’t know if it has to do with certain assignments, things I hear from professors, colleagues, or even fellow students. What I do know, however, is that the thing that put me at the greatest ease is our cohort forming a “social hour” twice a month over the summer. I found that if I was “off-par” with my work it helped to know where my classmates were and what I needed to do to catch-up. On the other hand, assignments, journals, and apprehensions I had about certain things were sometimes shared with my classmates. Meeting with them and getting to know them on a personal level helped me open up and feel better. I also feel that was reciprocal as well.
Faculty mentoring is a durable structure of doctoral education that facilitates intellectual growth, professional socialization, and progressive independence. Although I don’t feel like I’ve made progress on this aspect yet, I do recognize the importance of such a connection, and its effect on my success. I’ve completed online “classes” in the past, and I’ve even taught online classes. However, I have not completed an online degree before, so developing meaningful relationships with my professors and mentors from a distance will be a new challenge for me. I don’t know why, but I feel that creating this bond and making that connection and building such a relationship might be the hardest part of this doctoral journey. Nonetheless, I recognize the importance of this and the assigned readings support such a thought.
So what? Who Cares?
Finding the importance of my research and coursework in my professional development within this program I feel will be quite a challenge over the next few years. My goal for pursuing a doctoral degree is simple: acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to conduct high-quality, doctoral-level research. Simply put: I want to be a better writer and teacher. I desire to be armed with all of the knowledge and skills essential to complete a doctoral-level research project/portfolio. To break it down even further: I want my writing to matter. I want that research to be important to the overall body of knowledge in my chosen topic, whatever that becomes. I realize there are a lot of wants in the aforementioned statement, but those are my true intentions.
Too Much or Too Little?
As the readings mention: “The transition to independent scholar is part and parcel of the doctoral education process (Council of Graduate Schools, 2005) as well as an integral part of the socialization process that occurs while in graduate school.” The simple question is “How do I get to this point?” How do I help my fellow classmates get to this point? Group work is important, so is independent research. As a working professional I certainly don’t want to overwork myself and take away from other important aspects of my life (i.e. family, career, volunteering, other external research), however, I also don’t want to undershoot my target per-se. I feel that my coursework will help me find that right place to be in. However, it’s something based upon my interactions with my classmates that we all seemingly worry about.
Identity Development & Self Study Approach
The doctoral journey is as much about identity transitions as it is about becoming an expert in any given field of study. I realize that I am about to go through a “rebranding” of myself per-se. The process of becoming a Dr. is as important to me as obtaining the doctorate degree itself. I would like to say that I’ve figured out exactly what my identity is at this point and what my research is going to look like. However, I’d be lying. I feel that it is important for me to be an open-book at this point and see where my research takes me. Not only me, but my classmates as well. I am fully aware that this will be a journey.
The embedding of doctoral and academic experience within the broader lives is an overarching theme that I ran across often in many of my readings. How those identity structures fit into past and future professional experiences is also important. Identity structures can change due to research, circumstances, interest, and even an increase in knowledge. Like a weightlifter, I feel that my doctoral identity is preparing to “take a workout.” After all, that’s why I’m here and that’s why I desire a doctoral degree: that desire to learn.
Personalized Learning, Portfolios, and Reflection
In summary, this experience (and first course in my doctorate journey) has shown my that personalized learning, reflections (in the form of journaling), and reflection with my fellow classmates, is an important aspect of getting the most out of an advanced research doctoral degree. I feel that the desired output is to produce a portfolio of work that is a compendium of everything I have learned. In addition, that body of work will be personalized to my interests and professional interests. One does not merely learn to drive by studying a car, but rather by getting behind the wheel and driving. That said, I’m ready to put my doctorate journey in gear, roll down the windows, and begin this fun drive!