I just completed one of the “rites of passage” for those seeking a doctorate. This rite of passage is called the “Preliminary Defense.” Not many people write or talk about the actual preliminary defense meeting. The doctoral regulations governing the doctorate at CSU Fresno gives mention of it, but does not explain the process, but says you need to do it and to file a bunch of forms once it is completed. It appears this is the way it is for most doctoral programs.
As with other doctoral “passages”, the process leading up to the event is more rigorous than the event itself. I found the preliminary defense discussion to be helpful in further focusing my topic and direction. I prepared a two page document for my committee members, but few of them seemed to looked at it. I also prepared a PowerPoint presentation, complete with pictures (just text gets soooo boring) that shared the background of my topic a little review of the literature and the plan for my study (also called the “methodology”).
I had prepared the room to include bottles of water and some chocolate for my committee members. When the committee assembled, they had me leave the room and then invited me back in. I proceeded with my presentation via PowerPoint and committee members asked questions throughout. I had included a “question or ideas or clarification” slides throughout my presentation which helped to direct the conversation. Throughout the presentation, there were questions and clarifications that helped me to better refine my study. At the end, they asked me to leave the room so they could talk. They then invited me back in and said, “Congratulations!” Entire process took about 60 minutes.
Then, filing the paper work (which took me about two hours to prepare) was the next step and now, that is over!
My current dissertation title is: Are at-risk students more successful in online charter high schools than in traditional high schools?
And my research questions are:
- Are there a disproportionate number of at-risk students attending online charter schools as compared to traditional high schools?
- Are at-risk students more successful in online charter high schools than they are in traditional high schools?
Now, the exciting work begins!