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.┬áPlease 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!