Thinking Out Loud

I've decided to take on this "muddling through the dissertation" phase in chunks. It is just too overwhelming if I don't. In recent weeks I was pondering doing either a dissertation on trauma and learning theories or one on learning strategies and motivation. I'm leaning more toward the second idea incorporating the theories of Flow and Achievement Goal. I did post on my classroom's site my interest in this second idea and that I'm moving slower than I first intended.

I'm a third of the way through the dissertation which first sparked my interest:
Watson, M. L. (2002). Role of social academic goals in relationships among fifth-graders' interest, achievement goals, and academic outcomes. Dissertation Abstracts International, 63(6), 2138. (UMI No. 3056794)

Her study involves only 5th grade students as she explains that 5th graders are reliable participants based on past research, it is the first time that students' interest in reading begins to diminish, and adaptive learning strategies become more apparent. However, she also mentions further in her problem statement and literature review that while interest in reading diminishes in 4th and 5th grade, interest in math doesn't show a decrease until the 6th and 7th grades. I intend to ask this author why she didn't include 6th, and 7th graders, but in the meantime, I'm considering my own study to include 5th through 7th graders.

So far, after reading a third of this dissertation, I have written down a few articles to look up (Wentzel, 1998, Wigfield 1997, Alexander 1997, Scheifele & Csikszentmihalyi, 1994, Pintrich & De Groot, 1990, Scheifele, 1991, Scheifele & Csikszentmihalyi, 1995, and Midgley, 1993). I have also found information on the populations of area schools and whether they are considered urban or rural schools. In total, there are eleven elementary and middle schools in the area which comprise of 2129 5th, 6th, and 7th graders. Urban schools comprise of 1141 of these students while the rural schools comprise of 988 of the total. 2000 is a lot of students. Even if I were to get 50% of the population, I would still be looking at 1000. I think I need to investigate further the average response for these studies and whether 1000 students are too many for my dissertation study.

My next step is to find these articles and to request a couple of books by Csikszentmihalyi on the Flow theory. It is my belief that when I better understand the Flow Theory and the Achievement Goal Theory I will be prepared to begin my MRF.
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