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Thursday, February 17, 2005

 
Back to Square One, On From There
Here's an overview of my week so far:

Pre-this-week: I have an incompleted research project from last semester hanging over my head. It was supposed to be due before March 2. I started collecting data in earnest a week and a half ago, only to discover after testing a mere 5 subjects that my methodology was full of holes big enough to march elephants through, the most annoying of which was that it is a card sort task that was getting a lot of confound from people's manual dexterity, which was not at all what I was trying to test. Cognitive flexibility, yes; frequency of poker playing, no. I did not want to write a paper about this crappy research.

Monday: I go to hear the final candidate for the new SLS PhD program positions. His talk was very interesting, but about halfway through my brain stopped really absorbing what his study had been about and started listing to me all the ways my own study would be billions of times better if I were collecting data via a computer-based test.

Tuesday: I talk to my friend Ellie, who is interested in the cognitive side of physics education research. Originally, we were talking about Triple Chocolate Cookies and what we should do when she visits, but by the time I got off the phone I had a coherent plan about what I needed from a computer-based version of my test, plus a lead on at least 2 more bilingually-raised subjects. I promptly got in touch with my Flash-programming friend Will, who is a marvelous person to whom I am forever indebted. I sent him an email description of what I wanted while he was in class, and he said he could have it up on Saturday, connected to a database collecting data for me.

Wednesday: I talk to my professor about my complete redesign of my project and the reasons for it. I told her I was much more confident about this research design and the results it was likely to give me, and I'd try to get her a paper on it before the 2nd. She said, "That's in two weeks. I think that's pushing it. I'm on my way down to the dept. office anyway, so I'll ask the secretary for an extension of your incomplete." That afternoon, I had an extension to the end of the semester.

Thursday: Two compete strangers (to me) who are friends of friends of friends at Grinnell contact me to say they'll take the test when I have it ready to go. I begin to believe I will have reasonable sample sizes after all, and may actually have accomplished something worthwhile in the end.

What will the weekend hold? Stay tuned...

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