Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Tips for Finding and Selecting Research Problems

Research problems can be difficult to find and evaluate for investigation. Doctoral students who seek to work on a dissertation often look to seasoned researchers to help them narrow their problem into a specific thesis statement that can be applied to the research process. Even seasoned researchers often can find it difficult to find topics of interest. In either event all research starts with a recognition of a problem and then the exploration of the problem.

Recognition of a problem occurs when the problem enters our awareness. Sometimes it can be as simple as thinking about a topic your interested in and finding a problem through discovery. It is important to remember that easy to find research problems often already have existing research or are too broad to be of any good.

Many researchers spend years to find a sold research problem. When you are getting into the specifics you won't know what the problem is unless you have looked at all the other research out there or are ingrained in the field. Scientific problem recognition and eventual solution happen more through willful intent then through example.

Research should always seek to develop some new piece of information or some new understanding even though that understanding is small. It may not be ground breaking or earth shattering but could be important in its particular field. Finding research problems often relates to seeking out unanswered questions.

Finding a research problem can be difficult but is often beneficial to look for a few things that might be helpful.

Look into Bigger Problems. Large problems have many small components. Sometimes these components are covered but there will be many other aspects of the problem that were not covered. Take a big problem and research down to a specific problem.

Look for Information that Doesn't Connect: Information should connect well together in a parsimonious explanation. When information is not connecting together well then we know we have an issue related to explanation.

Look for the Novel: Topics of interest that are novel often have emerging information that either hasn't been studied or been replicated in new ways. Stay ahead of the market by looking for new novel discoveries.

Look for Topics of Interest: Find what interests you and continue to study it until you come across something new or question that hasn't been answered.

Look for Practical Problems: If you work for an employer and they are experiencing a problem work on something practical that is an answer for them. Not only will it have industry application but could get you some kudos.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Flying Faithful at Leatherneck Aviation Museum

The Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum is the only museum in the country that honors the aviators of the Marine Corps. We hear about Air force and Navy pilots but rarely think about Marine Corps pilots. They have the vital job of offering support to ground forces and engaging in air-to-air combat. Sometimes they conduct reconnaissance and electronic warfare.  From their formation in 1912 till present they are still part of the corps.

You will notice that many of the planes are decommissioned but have some history behind them.  A plaque of the plane and its history accompanies each craft. At certain times of the year the children are allowed to take pictures in the cockpits of a few of the craft combining learning and history. The museum is supported through donations so make sure you put a little money if you enjoyed the experience.

Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum
T-4203 Anderson Ave
San Diego, CA 92145
United States

The Readiness Characteristics of Successful Online Students

Online education is now a popular educational medium and online students have certain characteristics that set them apart from traditional students. Academic achievement and student satisfaction during online programs can be a major predictor of student retention and success. A study in the Turkish Online Journal of Education Technology helps highlight five factors of readiness that predict online student success (Kirmizi, 2015).

  1. Computer/Internet Self-Efficacy: The ability to be confident in the use of computers and the internet. Students that use the Internet on a regular basis will feel more confident in online courses when compared to non-computer users.
  2. Self-Directed Learning: Those students that enjoy learning, reading, and managing their own learning process are more likely to be successful in online education programs.
  3. Learner Control: Those students that desire more control over their educational experience, time, and curriculum will enjoy online education more.
  4. Motivation & Learning: Students that are successful in online education have higher levels of motivation and feel an intrinsic appreciation of education.
  5. Online Communication Self-Efficacy: Students that are strong with virtual forms of communication, forums, messaging, posting, replying, etc… will have an easier time with online education.

Online education isn’t for everyone and certain types of people are more likely to excel than others. Motivation is a key component of the strong online student. Successful online students will seek out opportunities to have more input in the educational process and control how their work gets done. Online education attracts those who seek more educational freedom.

Before students enter into an online program a level of readiness is needed to ensure they will maintain persistence throughout the entire program and not drop out. Students with poor motivation and low technology skills are at risk of giving up faster than other students. The same low levels of ability and motivation may impact their lives in other ways beyond higher education.

The report doesn’t move into this aspect but one must wonder if assessing or providing a short survey of student’s technological familiarity and personal motivation will be helpful in gauging whether or not students will be successful in an online program. Technology skills may require a pre-requisite course but motivation is part of a life-long learning process. Successful students will naturally have certain characteristics that set them apart from traditional students.

Kirmizi, O. (2015). The influence of learner readiness on student satisfaction and academic achievement in an online program at higher education. Turkish Online Journal of Education Technology, 14 (1).

Monday, March 2, 2015

Improving San Diego’s Infrastructure to Reduce Resource Costs

Infrastructure determines how efficiently we can use resources to encourage economic growth while conserving the environment. Old infrastructure can put pressure on electricity, housing, water, transportation and business development. Ensuring that infrastructure improves as the city grows will help reduce future costs that impact the quality and cost of living locally.

Infrastructure influences the amount of fuel, electricity, water, road ways, public transportation and other systems used. It is a basic motherboard that all other things are built upon. The infrastructure will determine which type of structures will be built and how wide versus large a city will become. Proper infrastructure impacts just everything within the city.

As an example, consider how a Stanford study on the California drought was determined to be human driven and likely to be a regular visitor (1). This means that we should expect warmer summers, less rain, and more problems keeping up with nature’s elements which will raise the cost of living for everyone. People will need to pay more for resources they are currently using.

For example, spread out housing can use lots of water to keep laws green and copper wire to keep connected. It will cost more to get basic utilities in older systems than newer systems. Properly built multi-unit housing can be designed to make better use of space, natural resources, and aesthetics to improve living standards at a cheaper cost. 

The cost of housing has increased to the point of putting pressure on wages, families, and commerce itself. As a larger percentage of income moves toward housing it will soak resources from restaurants, college savings, clothing, family budgets, etc… Eventually increased costs will impact other things such as wages or less disposable income.

Of course there is also public transportation itself that helps reduce congestion, pollution, roadways, and lifestyle. Getting additional light rail lines, sectioning off bike paths, and finding alternative transportation helps improve the functioning of the system. Manhattan provides an example where 82% of people get to work without using a car (Goodspeed, 2006). 

Infrastructure is an important aspect of San Diego and any other city that wants to ensure growth in the future. Planning is focusing on today's problems and tomorrows solutions to see if both can be met. There are no simple solutions as changes are slow, large, and long-lasting. Trying to think 20 years down the road can be difficult. Tomorrows problems are rearing their head today.

Goodspeed, B. (2006). It’s not easy being greenest: 10 cities to watch. The Environmental Magazine, 17 (4).

Lighthouses and Lamplighters in Commerce

The Lamp Lighter by Murad Abel

Lighthouses are part of the naval and seafaring beginnings of our great nation. Sea travel is an important method of transferring goods and information. Lighthouse were part of the infrastructure that ensured ships could safely make their way around dangerous points and into harbors. Without the lighthouses more ships and goods would be lost costing the early American economy greatly.

Military and civilian ships were often at danger from foreign influence, pirates and nature. Of the most damaging was Mother Nature with her ability to lead ships into rocks, disoriented plotted courses, and conjure bow crushing storms. Lighthouses provided guidance and protection for ships to help them navigate channels and hazards.

Lighthouses maintained the job of reducing overall cost and expenses of shipping. When ships are lost the economy slows down. Back in the day lives could be lost and people would not receive needed supplies. The lighthouse helped to ensure that this lose was lessened and people could continue to navigate waters as safely as possible.

The Lamp Lighter

Of up right stature he once was,
a hunched creature he has now become.

Makes his way up the winding stairs,
Each step a heavy labor to the darkened sky.

Ocean air whips his face,
A coat of sheep's wool his comfort.

A little light of passageway markers,
Jumps possessed from stick to wick.

His face is illuminated,
A full days light in tow.

He shields his eyes from what they can bear,
Blows out his light and heads down the stairs.

The painting is called the Lamp Lighter to honor all those who keep safe passage for the rest of us. Their job is one of no glory but of major importance to commerce. You may purchase on my creative works page  or E-Bay