Preparing for my Comprehensive exams (University catalog; Wikipedia) which is in less than 3 weeks by going through the list of readings that have been given by my five Dissertation Committee members. As with most who have done their Comps, the readings expands greatly beyond what was assigned. An assigned reading could refer to another paper with an interesting finding or concept so I read up on that, and now I have to (choose to?) remember the author, year of publication, title of that article and their findings because at the Comps, with no notes or written material, I have to recall ‘who did the research’, ‘where research was done, including on what or who’, ‘when it was published’, ‘title of the article’ and ‘their findings’. My poor brain. The memories I make, more like “forced to make”, while reading, all feels like ‘bubbles’. So damned fragile everyone of them. hahaha. Several readings down and I’ve forgotten or, and this is what commonly happens, I’m mixing up the year of publication (was it in the year 2000 or 2002?) for similar research or same lead author, or because several studies were done in the same country, for example Papua New Guinea, that I get the studies mixed up or the sampling protocols. Grrr!!!
Also, it doesn’t help that some authors names are long, foreign and hyphenated. Can i refer to Fraser Januchowski-Hartley, as just Hartley? Probably can but shouldn’t. God forbid my committee members are interested in the Hartley paper that I just talked about and can’t find it because I had truncated the name. LOL. I’m sure Fraser’s a great guy and he did an awesome, awesome study on the effect of Periodic harvest closure on fish behavior. Cool stuff but just remembering to pronounce his name correctly is a pain in itself. Sorry Fraser. At least your name is unique, so it helps a bit with remembering.
The many readings are so interesting. Okay, some are not. Some readings would be the equivalent of being ‘dragged through hot, burning coal’ or a ‘bed of nails with the tips pointing up’. Oh the joy. Not!!! But thankfully, these are, touch wood, the only readings that were a pain. “Dear Committee members, enough eh. Please”. As my nephew at his young age would say “kerekere, please”. Other readings that I’ve been through though have been enjoyable. So, if my committee members are reading this or will read it later, “Thank you”. Its been a while since I’ve tried to cram so much stuff into my brain and hoping it’ll hold. Well, it’s already bursting at the seams. Like the infomercials you see on TV, “But wait, call now and you’ll get an extra unit for free. So, that’s two for the price of one”. hahaha. My poor brain is bursting at the seams, not able to store it all, “but wait, here’s more”. Met with the Chair of my committee two days ago and he gave me more articles and book chapters. Yay 😦 Hahaha. God bless his heart.
Different strategies work for different people. What works for me in helping remember information are:
1) to “understand” and not just “cram” the information. This gives the finicky ‘memory’ bubbles a slightly stronger surface so they don’t bloody pop so easily. LOL
2) Also, sticky notes of main findings, graphs and concepts (with author, year published and article title), are starting to fill the walls of my room. During breaks, I look at them and make connections with findings from other readings which is another tactic I’ve found that helps in remembering.
3) I’m starting to amass a lot of A4 papers with drawings and short notes, and arrows between them. This could start at the center with an idea such as ‘management effectiveness’ and the next connection is to ‘definition’ where i write short note on author, year, publication title, of who defined it. Next connection from ‘management effectiveness’ could be ‘metrics’ and these could include all the various measurements used (more connections) and relationships. Again, I write author, year, title, finding for each connection that i can remember. As I go through more readings, if I come across a new metric, I draw a new connection (and put in reference and finding). So, imagine an A4 paper with circles and arrows, in red and blue pen, with some in font size 9 or 10 text. Its a mess. Hehehe. My mess, and it works for me 🙂
4) Looking forward to my practice comps with fellow students who have been through the process
5) Lastly, taking a break every now and then, to watch a movie online or just do and think nothing (anything other than readings) helps give my poor brain a break. Imagine my brain to be a pressure cooker slowly hissing away as it releases pressure while I’m on a break.
Well, I think I’ve vented enough and need to get back to the readings. Right now, it seems like, passing the Comps would be already similar to getting the phd. LOL. One bridge at a time. Philippians 4:13. Thankful also to my very understanding, supportive and prayerful wife and family. #bringit.
#comprehensive-exam, #comps, #memories, #orals, #phd, #ron-vave, #strategies, #university