When I began teaching Professional Communication and Presentation as well as Public Speaking, I decided to go back to school to obtain 18 graduate hours in the Communication discipline. Little did I know I would quickly fall in love with my program and my professors. My quest for 6 classes has now turned into the goal of a second master’s degree. Today, I presented and submitted my final paper for the class that marks the halfway point in my M.A. in Communication.
Reflecting back on what I’ve learned so far is essential as I move forward with the next phase in my studies: the thesis process. I’ve begun thinking about my topic and my committee as well as my potential research interests. I want to make sure my thesis will include content I can build upon in the future. For about a year now, I’ve kept a running list of potential topics, things I like, things I read about in my spare time, things I’m interested in. I also started keeping a Pinterest board of fascinating popular press articles. These articles and my list helped to inform the direction my thesis will take.
So far, I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am a qualitative versus quantitative researcher. I also know that I am a social constructionist, and because of my background and my first M.A. in English Literature, I gravitate toward critical theories. For the past few months, I’ve been studying and reading about many modern communication theories in Theories of Human Communication by Littlejohn and Foss. I added the theories and theorists that interested me the most to my ongoing list of potential thesis topics. Theorists I enjoy include Goffman, Butler, Buber, and Bakhtin. I have recently studied facework as well as standpoint theory, and my favorite theory from a previous course was dialogue. Tonight in class, the most fascinating fellow student paper was on Kenneth Burke. There are so many ideas still swimming in my head that it will take me another few months to finalize and figure out my direction. My goal is to have my thesis topic nailed down at the end of the summer.
For my remaining coursework, I am taking two core classes: Qualitative Research Methods and Statistics. I am very excited about Qualitative. Since the thought of taking Statistics at the graduate level is enough to make me want to drop out of college (kidding… kind of), I was happy to hear from our graduate coordinator that I could take a Sociology Statistics class focusing on application in the social sciences. My remaining electives will be Communication and Conflict, Communication in Close Relationships, and a course from the Women’s Studies Division called Theories in Gender Studies. It’s hard to imagine after only a few additional classes, I will have another degree and be one step closer to a Ph.D. in Communication.
It’s that time of year… Students are in the home stretch before graduation. Are you one of them? Or are you, like me, in the middle of a degree program? Please share your experience with me in the “Comments” section.