October 27th, 2016

It Was That Bad…

I got to campus early today to meet with Dr. Bulloch about my research design. I had received email notes from Dr. Singh on my research design and thought because I’ve had a long relationship with Dr. Bulloch, he could help me flesh it out a little more and then I’d circle back around with Dr. Singh.  I felt good about the fine tuning when I left the office and headed down the hill to the Psychology building and my Wednesday class.

Got to the classroom early and talked to a few of the students. Everyone was anticipating getting the midterm back today and wondered if we actually would.

Class was a little different than usual as there was much more discussion and much less lecturing. There has been a big change in Political Science from qualitative to quantitative focus at many institutions and there’s a war, maybe only a skirmish in some places, about what methods to use. I can’t help but think there are cycles for all of this.

People always ask me why educators are so liberal.  I’m not sure if they are, but I am sure educators are always looking for the “new thing.” If you couple being an educator, with being an academic researcher who needs to get published and is on a tenure track at a university, then I think you find even more willingness to find a new method and embrace it.  You can’t convince someone else, if you don’t believe it yourself.

I hear you asking, “What are you doing there, Zoller, if you’re not sure about it?” That’s exactly why I’m there.  I’m a lifelong learner.  I have PhD in life and study and experience in the political world, now I’m seeing if that translates into the academic world.

Social scientists want to be seen as “real” scientists, so there’s a large faction who believe quantitative research is the path to credibility. But will it last? I don’t know.  I’m a 57 year old grad student, I don’t even know if I’m going to last.  I am willing to bet, however, this isn’t the first time the discipline has been challenged and it won’t be the last.

The question I have is why does one method have to replace the other?  There might be people who are better at one than the other.  There might be questions more suited for one method or the other.  More likely, I believe, is there are questions that might start out in the qualitative or descriptive world and then be quantified later or vice versa.  But I’m very new to this rebirth I’m going through and all these concepts are swimming in my head and haven’t quite found their place in the recesses of my brain….

And that brings me back to my midterm exam. Not my finest moment, but I will chalk this one up to all that swimming going on in my head.  I’ve already had the pity party, so now it’s time to start all over again.