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Values in Design

Lenny van Onselen

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PhD experience

Sacrifices

Last week, I followed a discussion on the sacrifices people make for gaining a PhD. I was shocked. I did not share their feelings as for me it was such a dream to pursue a PhD that I do not feel like I am sacrificing everything. Another person who had similar feelings her/his comments were used as he/she was blaming others for sharing their sacrifices. I did see it differently.

I think this is a matter of perception and maybe your values? Some time ago you have made the decision to pursue a PhD. If in doing so you follow intrinsically motivated values, such as stimulation or curiosity, you might not feel strongly in making sacrifices. Others might be pushed by others (e.g. power of parents or profs) or pulled by extrinsically motivated values (e.g. achievement). Of course, these are valid values, but they are anxiety based. These might give you a feeling of making sacrifices all the time.

My advice is not to focus  Continue reading “Sacrifices”

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Swimming​ in data

In the past few months, I have been up to my ears gathering data and developing tools to support junior designers reflecting on value-based conflicts. This was amazing! The next step is to consolidate all this data in a paper. I have so much data that I almost do not know where to start. I have collected pictures, drawings, notes, chats, interviews, videos, survey data, emails… to name a few.

Data collection
Data collection (pic by Jens Gijbels)

In my first study, I conducted 22 interviews which were transcribed. I added a few more data sources for triangulation, but my main source of data were interview transcriptions. Since my last interview in 2016, I have been analyzing with my supervisory team. We have been working through this rich material. I am happy to announce our first journal article is finished. I submitted it to a journal for review yesterday.

To come back to my second study, you may understand my worry. As I have been working over 1,5 year to have something publishable for my first study, I start to feel some stress for my second study. This is a much wider collection of data. I have to be pragmatic and get a grip on this fast. I have 1,5 year left to finish my thesis, so although it may sound a lot, I do feel some pressure building up.

The ‘afterlife’

Yesterday, my prof asked me what my ambitions are. I have been thinking about what to do after my PhD, but it seemed still so far away. I realized however, I might be finished in 1,5 years. You never know what happens along the way, but ideally, I should be finished somewhere beginning 2019.

It had been such a journey to obtain a PhD position. Continue reading “The ‘afterlife’”

Learning loop

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how I have these little epiphanies. Last week, I had a major one. I could say, I completed a learning loop. Kolb (an educational theorist) developed the experiential learning model composed of four elements: concrete experience, observation & reflection, formation of abstract concepts, and testing new concepts. According to his theory you have a preferred learning style, but you generally go through all four stages. So, what happend with me?

Teenage-brain-768x432

Continue reading “Learning loop”

Should I continue my PhD?

I believe almost any PhD student at least once asks her/himself this question. I did to. Two times actually. It always came down to a yes in my case. I remember reading  blogposts and had conversations with my friend. I asked this question and two questions followed:

  • Why did you start your PhD?
  • Why would you want to quit?

If the answer to the first is “for myself”. The answer to the main question is Continue reading “Should I continue my PhD?”

The little epiphanies

Why do I research? Why go through so much effort and long, long days of pondering, going through my data, writing small bits of a paper? It is these little epiphanies you experience after a day of hard work. The insight you gained. The proof you found. The piece you were able to write.

Epiphanies, may be small, are the things that make you tick. I find them in my research. I make sure to have at least one per day. How? Continue reading “The little epiphanies”

Doing a part-time and external PhD

IMG_3707.jpg

My occupation is lecturer at a University of Applied Sciences. Dutch law dictates these universities are not allowed to promote PhD candidates. My employer does like lecturers to get a PhD and supports this by handing out PhD vouchers. This is a small grand provided by our University, to which you can apply for as lecturer. I received this grand 2 years ago and will receive another 2 years. However, I am not doing my PhD at my own University, but at Delft University of Technology where my promotor resides.

Doing a part-time PhD is hard, because Continue reading “Doing a part-time and external PhD”

Going on a diet

I dieted last couple of weeks. I worked on two conference papers with other researchers. Writing well is hard, especially writing a research paper. Academic writing gets wordy and boring quickly. Then I found this website: the writer’s diet. Continue reading “Going on a diet”

Observing an interview

Observing, purely observing, a researcher taking an interview. Educational. What did I learn?

  • The hour is gone before you know it
  • Opportunities for probing are so easily missed
  • It is not a monologue; it is a conversation
  • Repeat, summarize and probe
  • People speak abstract and in metaphors
  • Making a person angry helps (to a certain limit of course)

Ok. Interesting to learn more about open interviewing. But I also learned something else…  Continue reading “Observing an interview”

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