PhD Time

The time has finally come to pursue my PhD. I know, starting grad school when I’m almost 40. I’m crazy.

This past year has presented me with some rather unanticipated changes to my career. I’ll spare you the details of these changes, but I have really been evaluating the work I have done in education over the past few year around the Flipped Learning concept. Although I am proud of that work, I am also aware that much that I have done has been underinformed, underresearched, and underdeveloped. I have concluded that I have a lot more to learn if I expect others to continue to look to me for advice about how to operate their classroom. I am grossly deficient in my understanding of historical and current learning theories and practices, and it would be irresponsible of me to continue on my current trajectory.

I also greatly miss teaching science. Ever since the Flipped Learning explosion began I have been slowly drifting away from science education toward Ed-Tech. It has been an enjoyable trip, but my heart lies in the science lab, not on the iPad cart.

It is for these reasons that I applied to a few doctoral programs this year, and I am happy to report that I have been accepted to a PhD program in Curriculum and Instruction in STEM Education at Texas Tech. What I really appreciate about this program is their clear understanding that STEM education is simply an acronym that describes four disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) that can be integrated with one another rather than yet another educational silo that happens to have 3D printers and a Maker Space. I also love that this is a hybrid program that involves much of the work being completed from my home in Pittsburgh with some regularly scheduled on-site work in Lubbock, TX over the next four years. Not the most desirable commute in the world but the convenience of doing the rest remotely will make the travel worth it.

While I work on this degree, I plan to continue to travel, provide PD to schools, and speak at conferences about my past work. I hope to use these opportunities to develop my ideas, incorporate what I am learning in the PhD program, and do a little research along the way.

Thanks for reading this update, and I covet your support of the next four challenging years.

9 thoughts on “PhD Time

  • Go forth and conquer! It will be quite a journey but with the passion you have and all you bring to the table it is going to be amazing ride. Look forward to hearing your story as you pursue and hope to meet for a drink at a conference again in the future. Congrats Doctor will sound quite nice!

  • Hey there, high school classmate! Interesting to read and encouraging to hear. I’m hurling myself (head first?) into doctoral study next fall as well. Of you ever need an over 40 practitioner-turned-researcher support group, let me know. I’ll be at GWU in their Human and Organizational Learning EdD program. Good luck to you!

  • I think you’ll really appreciate the face-to-face time. My Ph.D. program is entirely online. However, I live just over an hour from campus and I find myself there about once a month meeting with someone because I miss the face-to-face interactions.

    I also appreciate that you recognize the need to be a learner. I’ve unfortunately seen too many speakers at conferences that have an inspiring message and wonderful anecdotes, but no research behind their work. For education to truly improve, we need more people like you taking that initiative.

  • Good on you Aaron. I’m sure your research will make a difference for students and teachers as much as your work with flipped learning has (and continues to). As a fellow Science teacher, I’m looking forward to seeing your work. I’ve just started a masters research project, for similar reasons. All the best!

  • I wish you the best Aaron. I ended ABD with my doctorate in computing science and part of that is I was that my research focus was in the wrong place. Someday I plan to pursue the PhD in education but still quite a ways down the road; perhaps in my 50s.

    I hope to see much more writing here as well, blogging is an important part of reflecting on your practice and research.

  • Congratulations on pushing beyond the popularity of trendy instructional methods, and seeking a greater understanding of the long term impact of what you’re doing! It’s a road few travel, and I hope that it helps cement some ideas and practice for you and the teachers you work with so they can build a strong foundation of practice based on research, reasoning, and a little bit of fun 🙂

    If you ever need any assistance in your efforts, I have many teachers and students that would be willing to help with any studies and research, many of whom helped with my own graduate work and studies a few years back. And don’t think that starting a PhD program at 40 is unusual; I see plenty of educators that can’t start until their 50s or even 60s. Cost, family obligations, job responsibilities, and more all prevent people from being able to pursue a higher path of learning, and you should consider yourself fortunate for being able to do so right now. Tying your work back to sound pedagogy and within the a specific content area may be far less glamorous than the EdTech scene, but knowing you I’m sure you will welcome your new direction with zeal!

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