All entries for February 2009

February 12, 2009

Botching it by rushing 欲速则不达

欲速则不达

昨晚请两位劳苦功高的导师到Leamington Spa的宝石粤式餐馆吃饭,庆祝我成功地晋级为博士研究生。回家后,读了以下这篇故事,(取自<<星洲互动>>于2009年2月11日刊登的沟通平台)自我警惕机制骤然启动。

一个年轻人到少林寺向师父拜师学艺,他问师父要练多久才能出师,师父说:“大概5年吧!”

“啊,这么久?”年轻人急切地问:“假如我比其他弟子花更多倍的努力,是不是可以提早学成武功?”

“这样的话,你大概需要10年!”师父说。

“甚么?10年?那如果我再加倍、加倍地努力学习呢?”

“20年吧!”师父淡淡地回答。

年轻人愈听愈糊涂:“师父啊,为甚么我越努力练习,学成武功的时间就越长呢?”

“因为,当你的一只眼睛一直‘盯著结果看´时,你就只剩下一只眼睛可以‘专注练习´了!”师父说。

学习,固然需要两只眼睛都“心无旁騖”地“专注”於自己的课业,即使是从事任何行业,不论置身任何岗位,要想出类拔萃、出人头地,少一份专注也是不行的。专注力不足,工作就会经常出错、发生状况,因此,许多谈论成功的励志书籍都告诉我们,在这分工精细的社会,专注,才是胜出的秘诀。

专注,就是集中精力、全神贯注、专心致志。

专注,就是“专精”於自己的领域,把每一件事做到最好,展现专业。

[为了让更多同修分享,本文接下来用英语]

There is a reason why a PhD is commonly set to be completed in three years time. The moral of this story is one could be botching something by rushing. It is still crucial to have an aim, but once it is set, both eyes should be focusing on the work to be done to reach the aim, instead of staring at the aim while rushing on things to be done to reach the aim. My take on is, sufficient time should be spent on planning and target setting. Once it is done, I should concentrate on the tasks to be done and only review the aim after I reach a particular milestone.


February 10, 2009

How can I be a professional researcher?

I want to be a fully fessional researcher at the end of my PhD study, and herewith my progress to date:

  1. I must have something to say that my peers want to listen to (Yes, I have)
  2. I must have a command of what is happening in my subject so that I can evaluate the worth of what others are doing.(Sort of)
  3. I must have to astuteness to discover where I can make a useful contribution. (Yes, I have)
  4. I must be aware of the ethics of my profession and work within them. (Yes, I am aware of them)
  5. I must have mastery of appropriate techniques that are currently being used and also be aware of their limitations. (I am still learning)
  6. I must be able to communicate my results effectively in the professional arena. (Further practice needed)
  7. All this must be carried out in an international context: being aware of what is being discovered, argued about, written and published by my academic across the world. (Doing my research in the UK and reviewing literature worldwide would allow me to reach this)
  8. I must be able to evaluate and re-evaluate my own work and that of others in the light of current developments. (I am doing this via reflective and reflexive thinking)

Reference: Pugh and Philips (2005) How to get a PhD


The nature of PhD (Note jotted from How to get a PhD)

Some people asked me what does a PhD mean to me. What makes PhD holders different from non-PhD holders? I read Pugh and Philips (2005) How to get a PhD and found answer for it:

Table 1: Differences among bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and doctor’s degree

Bachelor’s degree

Master’s degree

Doctor’s degree

The recipient had obtained a general education.

Specialisation started in 19th century.

A licence to practice (historically in theology).

Possessed advanced knowledge in a specialist field.

A licence to teach, in a university as a member of a faculty.

A faculty member needs to be an authority, in full command of the subject right up to the boundaries of current knowledge, and able to extend them.

The recipient is worthy of being listened to as an equal by the appropriate university faculty.

Table 2: Differences among doctor’s degrees

Higher doctorates

Doctor of Philosophy degree

Doctor in medicine

Awarded as recognition of a substantial contribution to the discipline by published work.

E.g. DD (Divinity), MD (Medicine), LLD (Law), DMus (Music), DSc (Science), DLitt (Letters, i.e. Arts).

An early 20th century concept imported from the US to British universities.

DPhil or PhD.

Represents a more restricted achievement than the higher doctorates as it envisages a limited amount of academic work (3 years or so).

The recipient is in command of the field of study and can make a worthwhile contribution to it.

Honorary title given to general medical practitioners although they do not have a doctorate from their universities.

On the basis of their university course they are credited with 2 bachelor’s degrees, although having a licence to practise they exemplify the concept of a master’s degree.


February 08, 2009

Malaysia Night 2009 "Home" – My home is where my heart be

I attended the annual grand show organised by Warwick Malaysia Students Association (MSA), themed Malaysia Night 2009: "Home" last night at Belgrade Theatre, Coventry City Centre. I was an heart-warming experience. As a Malaysian myself, I am proud of what my juniors did in promoting Malaysia as a multi-cultural and friendly country.

I knew being a Warwick student, especially undergraduate student is extremely exhausting in study. However the performers managed to squeezed a great amount of time in practicing and rehearsing several dances, the play, and the modernised 'dikir barat', BROVO!!

I like the play 'Home' very much. It was a wonderful production. Although I watched it alone but I wasn't lonely. I heard graceful Malay, Malaysianised Mandarin/Cantonese and Manglish (Malaysia English) conversations; I saw Milo T-shirt which most Malaysian kids wear when they participate in sports. The 'DVD buy 5 get 1 free' of Petaling Street, and scenes of Jalan Masjid India called upon my memory of working life in Kuala Lumpur from 2004 to 2007. The script that stroke me most is 'my home is where my heart be'. Being an international student, having home sick is common, especially during Chinese New Year (tomorrow is Chap Goh Meh, the last day of Chinese New Year celebration). Watching a play like 'Home' amplified such feeling.

To be frank, I am not sure where will I work after fulfilling the requirements in my conditional sponsorship with UPSI. I sincerely hope that Malaysia could be the place I pursue my career: Associate Professorship and then Professorship in Multimedia or e-Learning. The problem is I know what is the actual situation. Anyhow, one thing for sure, I will always be proud to be a Malaysian, wherever I be. 

All the best to all Warwick Malaysian students! 


Lessons learnt in mock interview

I attended ARM session: The Ethnographic imagination – the art and craft of ethnography on 07 Feb 09. This session was conducted by Prof Pia Christensen. It was a fruitful session, especially the half-an-hour mock interview role-playing activity. In a group of three, the role of interviewer, interviewee and observer were played by each student. The research was meant to explore the interviewee’s perception on the meaning of learning and education in his / her life. 4W1H (‘why’ was excluded due to the ethnographic nature of the research) approach was recommended to generate questions.

I was teamed with Sati and Theo. Sati led both Theo and I to an unoccupied lecture room. After we settled down, we discussed and agreed on the role we play: Sati was the interviewer, Theo was the interviewee and I played the observer role. Next, we spent roughly 5 minutes to prepare for the task. Sati listed the questions to be asked, while I drew an observation table based on the guideline given by Pia (see Table 1).

Table 1: What to observe during participant observation

Category

Includes

Researchers should note

Appearance

Clothing, age, gender, physical appearance

Anything that might indicate membership in groups or in sub-populations of interest to the study, such as profession, social status, socioeconomic class, religion, or ethnicity

Verbal behavior and interaction

Who speaks to whom and for how long; who initiates interaction; languages or dialects spoken; tone of voice

Gender, age, ethnicity and profession of speakers; dynamics of interaction

Physical behavior and gestures

What people do, who does what, who interacts with whom, who is not interacting

How people use their bodies and voices to communicate different emotions; what individuals’ behaviours indicate about their feelings toward one another, their social rank, or their profession

Personal space

How close people stand to one another

What individuals’ preferences concerning personal space suggest about their relationships

Human traffic

People who enter, leave and spend time at the observation site

Where people enter and exit; how long they stay; who they are (ethnicity, age, gender); whether they are alone or accompanied; number of people

People who stand out

Identification of people who receive a lot of attention from others

The characteristic of these individuals; what differentiates them from others; whether people consult them or they approach other people; whether they seem to be strangers or well known by others present

The mock interview started by Sati introduced herself and explained the nature of interview which she perceived. She also guaranteed the confidentiality of the data captured in the interview to Theo. The interview last for 20 minutes and a discussion were held among three of us regarding the lessons learnt in the role-playing. The lesson we learned in the mock interview were shared with other groups. Herewith some useful points to me in the activity:

-         Smile connects people

-         Never expect interviewees to remember things that you have said once, e.g. who you are and where do you come from, etc.

-         A good interviewee would help interviewer in focusing the research topic, provided that the interviewee was given information regarding the key research question and the context of the research in advance. Treat this as serendipity.

-         Interviewer should be flexible in adjusting prepared questions based on interviewee’s background and the real-time interaction with interviewee.

-         Provide options to interviewee or let interviewee determines where to conduct interview. If the interview location is not suitable and only being discovered after the interview has started, do consider to change venue on the spot (let’s get a better place) or arrange another meeting.

-         Interviewer should mention that ‘it is not about right or wrong answers’ at the beginning of interview.

-         Interviewer should ensure that none of the questions is out of the research context.

-         An experienced interviewer would know when to stop.


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