COLUMN: GRADUATE MEMBER MUSINGS
Ready for Graduation? What Cards Are in Your Hand?
Association for Educational Communications & Technology 2018
Hello, Ph.D. fellows. Where are you in your program? First
year? Second year? Last year? Have you thought about your
future career? What is your research agenda (interest)? How
far are you from your dream life?
This musing shares the lessons learned by a graduate stu-
dent in her last semester of her Ph.D. program. I hope this will
benefit all Ph.D. students. It is never too early to think about
your future career and get ready for it! Three issues of devel-
oping your research agenda, attending academic conferences,
and making a professional website will be presented.
Develop your Research Agenda
Which Learning Theory Do You Believe?
As graduate assistants, we might work for grant-funded pro-
jects or projects that connect to our professors’ interest, or on
their research agendas. Not every professor will encourage a
graduate student to have a research agenda at the beginning, or
in the middle of the program. However, when we graduate and
are preparing for job hunting, the employer always asks for a
research statement or research agenda.
It is recommended that one’s research agenda should be
rooted or based on one’s dissertation. It can be stressful and
unrealistic to come up with a perfectly established agenda
towards the end of your Ph.D. You might come up with a
temporary agenda that you have an initial interest, but perhaps
not a passion, to submit with your job application. It also is
possible that your dissertation is not the Bmarriage^ you want,
but a topic is available and what data are easy to collect.
Based on my professional development experience, and
reflected on my conversations with scholars, it is never too
early to locate your passion. Even though you might not have
the chance to work on a relevant project, you can still think
about what kind of research you want to pursue in the future.
Your research agenda should be rooted in a learning theory
you believe (Reeves et al. 2017). It is possible that you are
interested in different research topics, however, for a research
agenda you should have a focus. One way to help you identify
the core of your research agenda is to outline the research
projects you have been involved in and passionate about to
locate the overlap. This could help you decide on a research
agenda that is close to your heart.
Experience from AECT (GSA)
Why should I Spend Money and Time to Travel for an
I am glad I went to every AECTconference during my time as
a Ph.D. student. I heard about AECT when I stepped into the
field of Educational Technology ten years ago. The definition
of Educational Technology is rooted in this organization. In
2015, I attended my first AECT conference with the encour-
agement and support of my department. I was surprised by so
many fantastic sessions, presentations, and activities as well as
the professional networking opportunities. I met several grad-
uate students from the United States, China, and other coun-
tries! It feels like a homecoming when you meet someone who
shares a similar culture and academic background with you.
The group of graduate students and I made friends and func-
tioned as conference mates. I also created a social media con-
tact group to keep all of us in touch. Social media like
Facebook has been used for professional networking by shar-
ing and connecting online for the benefit of the profession
(Bodell and Hook 2011). I made friends with graduates from
other states and met them once or twice a year throughout my
Ph.D. studies. We talked overnight about our research pro-
jects, future plans, and personal life. By the way, I worked
as a volunteer for the conference, which covered some of the
* Ying Xiu
Oklahoma State University, 205 Willard Hall, Stillwater, OK 74078,