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Thursday
Oct182012

Teaching Doctoral Students

I want to be clear. I really enjoy teaching undergraduate students. I have also had amazing relationships (some of which have blossomed into wonderful friendships) with masters' students. But today I want to talk about how much I love my doctoral students.

In the fall semester I teach our core qualitative methods class. I am lucky in that this course pulls from other doctoral programs across campus, so I always have an interesting mix of students to teach. This year I actually have more students in the class that are outside of my department than are in my department. They are a great group.

I was supposed to be in Toronto today. I had a paper accepted at the annual conference for the Motherhood Initiative in Research and Community Involvement. It was a paper I was excited about presenting and it is a conference I've been to in the past and really enjoyed. Unfortunately budget cuts in our university meant that I would be paying for the trip completely on my own. Since I am already paying part of the costs for my trip to Montreal at the end of the month, that was not going to be possible. I had to withdraw my paper at the last minute. I felt horrible about doing it and I am sorry to miss the conference. However I was not sorry I was home today.

Each year in my class we explore five common strategies used in qualitative research: grounded theory, phenomenology, narrative, ethnography, and case study. This year I realized I was supervising at least one doctoral student who was doing a study using each of those five approaches. I decided to put together a guest panel for today's class (covering me while I was in Toronto) with each student presenting their work and their approach. The result was fabulous and I was so glad that I could be there to actually see it.

The projects are all incredibly interesting and are good solid examples of the methodology. The presenters were all wonderful. Even better was the discussion with the full group after each presentation. We had those moments when it goes beyond a straight Q&A and turns into a productive discussion that pushes the research forward. I personally learned a lot from today and got re-excited about each project all over again.

Having good students never gets old. 

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