Commencement 2014!

I’ve long waited for this day! On June 16, 2014 I participated in the 60th Commencement Ceremony at the University of California, Riverside. Although my degree was “certified” on January 8, 2014 and “conferred” on March 21, 2014, UCR only has one set of commencement ceremonies each year – at the end of the academic year in June. That means I had to wait forever for the big moment!

This year, there were seven commencement ceremonies at UCR with nearly 5,500 graduates participating. Fortunately, the ceremony for UCR’s Graduate School of Education (GSOE) is one of the smallest; there were just 105 graduates at our ceremony and only nine Ph.D.s were conferred. Of course, simple math reveals that many of the other ceremonies were huge but I’m glad mine wasn’t.

I’m very grateful that UCR took a video of the ceremony. The following video was created by obtaining a screen capture and then adding some more “fun stuff.” I’ve also reduced the ceremony from approximately 90 minutes down to just 7. Of course, these are the seven minutes that are most meaningful to me – UCR’s bagpipe band (I took bagpipe lessons many years ago), portions of the processional, the “big moment”, and a few still photos that were taken following the ceremony. FYI, the “BIG Moment” (when I am “hooded” by my academic advisor) occurs five minutes into the video. Spoiler alert! The last photo was taken a few hours after the ceremony – my “wild cousin,” who is visiting from Maryland, insisted that I put on my regalia so she could get some photos at the beach. ¬†What fun!

 

 

My dissertation has been published!

My dissertation, Neurofeedback as an Intervention to Improve Reading Achievement in Students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Inattentive Subtype has just been published on eScholarship.org. eScholarship is operated by the University of California and “provides Open-Access scholarly publishing services . . . and delivers a dynamic research platform to scholars worldwide.” Unlike many diploma mills, which do not provide open access to their school’s dissertations, the University of California now publishes essentially all dissertations and provides free access to the public. This is as it should be. It’s rather interesting, to say the least, that the lower the status of the school, the more restrictive they are to providing access – in fact, many charge exorbitant fees for them. I am very proud to be a graduate of a world-class research institution such as the University of California, Riverside.

Finis!

It’s hard to believe but on March 21, 2014 my degree was “conferred.” In other words, that was the official date that my graduation was recorded on the University transcripts. Of course, I’ve been done for many months and the conferral of the degree was merely a formality. Just the same, it is now behind me. The only thing I have remaining is the commencement ceremony in June (yes, that’s still a few gazillion years away). I’m really looking forward to that.

For the first time in nearly six years, I’m no longer a student. Although it has been a tremendous honor to have attended a world-class research institution such as UCR, it still feels great that I’m done. I couldn’t have imagined a better university to attend. Now it’s time to move on to bigger and better things!

The race to the finish has begun!

I just returned from the 2013 Conference of the International Society for Neurofeedback & Research (Dallas, TX) where I presented a poster session, as well as an hour-long oral presentation on my dissertation research. What a fabulous experience! There must have been one hundred people at my oral presentation, including some of the top researchers on neurofeedback; at least two of the most renowned researchers who helped launched the field back in the late 1950s and 1960s where there. Not only was it an incredible honor but, of course, it was also a bit intimidating but that’s a good thing.

The exciting thing is that the university sent out the announcement for my dissertation defense today! Wow! I can’t believe I’m nearing the end of a very long and challenging (for lack of a better word) experience. Sleep may be in my near future again and, perhaps, I may even be able to break away from my computer for a few days (but not for too long as I’ve got at least one more presentation to do in a few weeks and several articles I should write). I’ve got some exciting things going on and it feels great.

Finis! (Well, if not that, then it’s close to finis!)

It’s hard to believe but the first final draft of my dissertation is DONE! I finished it on September 4th at 6:58 P.M. after spending countless months glued to my computer, not to mention everything that preceded writing it up. I’m too tired to think straight so for now, I’m just going to leave it at that! I’ve proofread it twice so far and may write up the abstract before calling it quits for tonight. Just the same, it’s DONE!

Does the work ever end?

Wow, I’m tired! I’ve had an extremely busy summer. After completing data collection for my dissertation, I immediately launched into teaching a course at UCR – EDUC 280L: Foundations of Education. The topic (advanced theories of learning) is fascinating and I had a great group of students. Of course, I also spent every moment not preparing for that, working on my dissertation.

I ran into a few snags with the dissertation, particularly a problem where I did something previously unthinkable – I bought a Mac. Really. Although I’ve been a longtime computer geek and have a ton of experience with PCs, I never thought I’d end up needing a Mac. The problem I ran into is that Microsoft Excel literally cannot generate the graphs I need for my dissertation! After spending many weeks trying to figure out what to do, I finally had several “clues” that made me realize that the only way to get on with life was to get a Mac. Specifically, I first wrote to my advisor and told her of my problems. She, in turn, referred met to a recent Ph.D. graduate from UCR who she believes is a computer whiz (I’m not bad, myself). That individual knew I’m a PC guy and suggested I try out a Mac. I immediately went to an Apple store and within five minutes, generated a graph similar to what I needed – even though I haven’t a clue as to what I’m doing on a Mac!

At the same time, I had spent weeks searching for a solution and only hit countless dead ends. In one case, I found a retired chemistry professor on a Microsoft forum who has written several books on Excel. It took him several days but he finally figured out how to do a partial workaround but that simply wasn’t sufficient, not to mention that the process was extremely complicated and time consuming.

After trying the above, I also waltzed into a Microsoft Store and told them I had to buy a Mac. They laughed at me (never a wise thing to do) and told me that they could solve the problem. Of course, I told them it was impossible and challenged them to show me, especially since I have long been able to get around on PCs and am quite proficient with Excel. Needless to say, an hour later their “Excel Expert” gave up and told me that I had to buy the Mac (really). Unbelievable but absolutely true!

I’ve since generated a bazzillion or more graphs and have been writing endlessly for weeks. I’m just about done with the results section on my dissertation and after that, all I have left is the discussion and conclusion. I don’t anticipate that will take me nearly as long as what I’ve been doing. At this time, I just want to be done with the dissertation! I’m tired!

Data Collection is Almost Done & the Score is Now: Jeff = 1, Microsoft Excel = 0

Data collection for my dissertation is nearly done – I’ve been at it, nearly full-time, since mid-January. Although the participants are great, I’m simply exhausted. Fortunately, essentially all of my data collection will be done this week. As a result, I will now be entering the final stage of the program – writing up the “Results” and “Discussion” sections of my dissertation (the lit review and methods sections were completed and approved last Fall). Although this final stage should be the most “fun,” I’m engaged in yet another battle with Microsoft Excel. It always amazes me as to how clueless programmers are to the needs of real users. I’ve now spent days/weeks fighting with Excel in order to create graphs for my multiple-baseline across-participants single-case research and finally conquered the last hurdle, thanks to a response to a question I asked on an Excel Forum. Here’s a sample:

Sample Graph from Actual Data
This is a sample graph that is very close to what I’m going to be creating from the mountains of data I’ve collected.

I’ve also created an “instruction guide” (for me) so I won’t forget how to create the graph. Here’s the link to: Jeff’s Single Case Design Graph Instructions.¬†Please note that I did not proofread it – it was created only for my use but I’m posting it here, just in case someone else is interested in “how I done did it.” Enjoy!