The Study Dude – Bullied? Claim Your A+

There is nothing more that The Study Dude wants than for you to turn victimization by bullies into A+ papers.

Well, in these articles, as The Study Dude, I’ll try to give you the study tips you need to help make your learning easier. I’ll also give you straight and honest opinions and personal anecdotes?even the embarrassing ones that you wouldn’t ever dare read about from any other study tip guru.

This week’s Study Dude looks further at Reason & Rigor: How Conceptual Frameworks Guide Research by Sharon M. Ravitch and Matthew Riggan. They show you how to both speak up in an academic conversation and share your thoughts.

Fight with Theory; Enter the Conversation
Do you identify as female? Do you have a disability? Do you come from a marginalized group or race?

Then, here’s a shoe-in to an A+: get a book on either critical theory, race theory, queer theory, disability studies, or feminist theory. Read it cover to cover.

Why? Because if you include a theoretical framework in your essays, your prof’s pupils will pop. Nothing speaks grad quality more than an essay plump with theory.

Here’s the structure: after you reveal your thesis statement, and before you start your essay body, mention that You’re using, say, critical theory as your theoretical framework. Summarize a bit about the theory you’ve chosen. Then write that A+ essay.

Does that sound tough? Not at all. Just sprinkle in quotes from your chosen theory book?as long as the quotes advance your thesis statement. You could make your thesis statement about racism in the classic book Heart of Darkness: race theory. Or you could talk about how transgender people could be better addressed in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: feminist theory. Limitless ideas.

If you see people omitted, in the closet, or made fun of, then defend them with theory.

And the best part? You can reuse that theory in other undergrad essays?and perform like a prize grad student. Of course, the assignment will dictate whether your essay’s ripe for theory, but when in doubt, ask your prof. Chances are, your prof will view you as a budding colleague.

Ravitch and Riggan explore various ways you can enter the conversation:
– Look at what the big researchers say about your topic. See what parts of your topic fire up arguments. Get in the middle of that argument. It makes you look avant-garde.
– See how you can explore one of the researcher’s views, but use different research angles. For instance, if a researcher uses feminist theory to discuss women in Trudeau’s 2016 politics, you could use disability theory to show what “2016” politics excludes.
– Find a common thread among top researcher’s views on your topic. This thread is your “synthesis.” If you see a heated debate on climate change, then make your thread “Climate change policies work best through gradual, not sudden, implementation.” Yes, slip in your view.

Reflect on You: Concept Maps, Memos, and Journals
Every academic author says, “Reflect.”

My brother thinks objectivity leads to truth. But, let’s face it, research lacks objectivity. That’s because you come into play: the researcher. You’re biased.

So, why reflect? Because your interests, your personality, and your life all help you selectively research what you deem important. Imagine never seeing a Sunfire car in your life. Then, after buying one, you see Sunfires everywhere. Ah, selective attention in action.

So, spend time making memos and journal entries. Record your thoughts and biases. And make your thinking public, if you dare. After all, transparent research is the mark of academic integrity.

Sadly, many researchers hide their thinking in fear of appearing as fakes or frauds. But not you!

Ravitch and Riggan share their views on tools for reflection, including concept maps, memos, and journal entries:
– Reveal your secret agenda for studying your topic.
– Reveal what part of your personality or your life motivated you to study this topic. Be honest.
– Concept maps are like mind maps, but concept maps emphasize the relationships between ideas.
– Use memos to discover relationships and to dream up research questions.
– Journals help you document your struggles, thoughts and feelings on your research journey.
– Make your research journal public if you’ve got the courage. [See if your prof will give you bonus marks for posting your journal entries on your research blog.]

So, there’s nothing to fear. The Study Dude is determined to make right for you all the wrongs I made in grad school?one A+ at a time.

ReferencesRavitch, Sharon M., & Riggan, Matthew. (2012). Reason & Rigor: How Conceptual Frameworks Guide Research. Los Angeles, CA: Sage.