At times, and not always at the beginning, I’ll ask you to give me a “Brain Dump.” I do this because PhD students often don’t like to turn in anything unpolished to their mentor and giving it the name “brain dump” seems to provide the motivation to write something down. See, I can’t help you if I don’t know what you’re thinking. So a phone call, meeting, or brain dump on paper is necessary.
There are no requirements for the brain dump assignment. No structure, no citations, just your ideas. Organize it however you want. But if you have writers (or even thinkers) block, consider addressing one or more of these questions:
- What do I really care about?
- If I could study anything, what would it be?
- Why should anybody else care about this topic?
- Why does this matter in the grand scheme of things?
- How can I narrow this topic to make it more doable?
- Am I more comfortable with crunching and analyzing numbers (quantitative) or telling stories (qualitative)? Why?
- Are there cultural, educational, or environmental stumbling blocks that are in my way of doing the study I really want to do? Can I overcome them? Or should I just move on?
- What theories of learning, instruction, or innovation inspire me most? What studies might I make using these theories?
- Is there a study that I’ve read recently, that made me think…”I wonder if I could do a study like this only I would…..”?
If you haven’t already, be sure to check Walden’s PhD Dissertation Page and look at all the documents under the prospectus category. Familiarize yourself with what will be expected of you in this phase.
Can’t wait to see what you “dump” on me! (Wait, that doesn’t sound right.)