Discussing Development… of College Students

I just made my annual appearance at the class on theories about college students’ development taught by Dr. Jim Barber. Last year I got to be there in person, but this year it was back to Skype.

Fortunately, the new version of Skype allows for screen sharing. It is always a bit disorienting for me to deliver guest lectures online, but I don’t think it was too painful for the audience tonight — on account of this new technology.

Presentation to W&M SoE

Today at DIT, my research project is fully underway, and every day I’m drawing from the theories I learned in this very informative class that I had the good fortune to take, way back in 2006, at The College of William and Mary.

Tonight, I discussed two research methods I’ve been using — the first using template analysis and the second using descriptive phenomenology. If you’d like to view the Prezi I presented, you can click here.

The best part of the evening was that the William and Mary grad students — 22 in all — had lots and lots of questions. I couldn’t gauge exactly how well I was connecting with the folks in the back row (who contributed lots of great questions) because the resolution was only so/so, but I have been loving that the fact that my Skype/Messenger/iMessage/MagicJack technology has been improving every day!

It’s five hours later in Dublin than back in Virginia, so the evening is quite well worn here. And since I’ve got a researcher “media training” workshop in the morning, I’d better hit the sack now…. Adieu, Adieu, To you and you and yo-u!

Prezi cover shot

TV News Feature









Yesterday, RTE aired a piece on RoboSlam that features Ted Burke (I previously blogged about the filming).

The piece describes preparations for the Dublin Make event, to be held Saturday, July 26 on the grounds of Trinity College.  The news segment is available to view for seven days.



and then drag the slider to 23:12.  Getting to it takes a bit of effort since the internet version sometimes opens with commercials, but it’s a very cool and fun news pieces.

Great news work by Sinead Morris!


I’ve also found announcements about the Marie Curie fellowship in DIT’s spring Research News magazine (see pages 34-35) and on The College of William and Mary’s School of Education Alumni News webpage.

DIT Research News  http://www.dit.ie/media/ditresearchenterprise/dredocuments/Research%20news%20Vol%207.1.pdf

DIT Research News feature, see pages 34-

WM SOE almuni page https://education.wm.edu/news/alumninews/chance-2014.php

W&M School of Education alumni page announcement

A Tasty Bite of Elephant

Last night I met with the class on Student Development Theory at The College of William and Mary.

The class on Student Development Theory at The College of William and Mary.

I visited alma mater last night, The College of William and Mary, to speak about cognitive development theories developed by William Perry, Marcia Baxter Magolda, King and Kitchener, and the like.  I was asked to highlight how I incorporate these theories in my research and teaching.

This was an optimal time to give such a talk, because I’m gearing up to conduct a phenomenological study of students’ experiences of collaborative, trans-disciplinary, problem-based learning.  Last night’s talk got my mind moving in that direction.

The people in the picture above are working on graduate degrees in Higher Education; several of them shared  ideas and recommendations for the design of my proposed project.  At least two of them are using phenomenological methods for their dissertation work.  Their enthusiasm for my plan raised my own energy level and got me psyched to start work.

I’d had some nagging questions about how to best protect my research participants (i.e., “subjects”); the W&M students helped address my concerns.

I’d also had difficulty making time for this project because of its sheer scale.  I was trying to do too much at once.

I devised a workable plan during my drive to Williamsburg and got good response to my idea.  In essence, I’m now following the rule that if you want to eat an elephant, you’ve got to proceed one bite at a time….

I’d been completely overwhelmed by trying to analyze data from 30+ participants.  So, I’ve determined to focus in on one group.  I can extend the work over time, but a group of six is appropriate for a phenomenological study (and a more reasonable way to digest this elephant).

So, I’ll look closely at one group of six students who worked together as a team with impressive results.  Each of these students documented the team’s design process in writing across the course of a semester.

I’ve already done quite a bit of analysis on what they wrote, and that allowed me to make a purposeful selection.  In this case, I know that more than one team member experienced  powerful (pivotal or seminal) instances of learning.  I want to find out what factors caused those changes.  I’ll be looking at how the six team members experienced the collaborative design process in the period leading up to significant “a ha” moments.

I hope that the results will help educators (including me) prompt that type of “deep learning” more often.

I can extend the work to look at other groups later.  And, as Dr. Jim Barber (the instructor of record for last night’s course) pointed out, I can also extend the study in the future (to make it “longitudinal”) by tracking down members of the group and conducting follow-up interviews.

I always enjoy visiting the W&M School of Education and yesterday was no exception.  After arriving at the School of Education’s brand new LEED-Gold building, I admired the fall colors and gabbed with a former classmate (Sharon Stone) and my mentor (Dr. Pam Eddy) before heading into Dr. Barber’s class.

Can’t wait to visit again!

In W&M News Today

Joanne A. Davidson, the Fulbright Ireland Communications & Information Officer, just sent me the link to William and Mary’s website.  Yesterday, they posted a piece about my exhibition on their main news page!

Appreciating Classicism with Christine Franck

Shannon Chance and Christine Franck.

Shannon Chance and Christine Franck.

Prince George's Street in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Prince George’s Street in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Meet my colleague Christine Franck.

I was introduced to Christine when I was delivering a guest lecture at the University of Notre Dame while she was an adjunct professor there.  She usually practices architecture in New York and blogs about classical architecture. She has also written several books and has served as president of the board of the Institute for Classical Architecture and Classical America.

During 2012, Christine and I got together a couple of times in Williamsburg to discuss each others’ research.  Christine has a fascinating idea for an architectural research project.  I’ve been helping her figure out how to pitch the idea to Fulbright.  There are Fulbright grants available to teachers, researchers, and professionals… in my book, she’s all of these.

Without giving too much away, I can say:  Christine is interested in documenting a certain type of housing that is relatively unknown but that she thinks holds keys for the development of sustainable cities and towns.  We hope to connect Christine with professors in Europe who are doing research the same area, in hopes she can do funded research alongside them on the topic she has defined.

A photo my dad, Don Massie, took outside the Wren Building on graduation day, May 2012.  Can't help but love the cap, eh?

A photo my dad, Don Massie, took outside the Wren Building on graduation day, May 2012.

It seems fitting that I meet this classical architect in Williamsburg — the heart of colonial Virginia.  It’s also the place I earned my PhD.

I always enjoy being on William and Mary’s campus and seeing the Wren Building.  It’s the place where I received my diploma in May 2010 — right there on the lawn in front of the famous building.  I felt immensely honored to have received a scholarship from the Christopher Wren Association to study at this amazing university… Christopher Wren was an English architect and I appreciated studying at an institution that held an architect in such high esteem.  About this building, the Colonial Williamsburg website explains:

The Wren Building at The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg. Photo downloaded from Colonial Williamsburg website.

The Wren Building at The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg. Photo downloaded from Colonial Williamsburg website.

The College of William and Mary’s Christopher Wren Building is the oldest academic structure still in use in America. Construction on the building began August 8, 1695, two years after the school was chartered; it is the signature building of the second oldest college in the nation (next to Harvard). Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, John Tyler, and John Marshall studied in its rooms. George Washington was once chancellor of the college, which is now a distinguished university.

Three times destroyed by fire, the appearance of the brick-walled Wren Building has often changed, but it stands today much as it appeared by 1732. It was the first major building restored by John D. Rockefeller Jr., after he began Williamsburg’s restoration in the late 1920s.

From Theory to Practice

The class I taught this past summer at The College of William and Mary is being featured by the university’s public relations department for helping students move ideas into action and spurring environmental change.  Check it out at:


One of our many field trips in the summer “Educational Planning for Environmental Sustainability” class at William and Mary.  This one, to the campus herb gardens, was coordinated by student Justine Okerson and led by W&M’s current Sustainability Fellow, Patrick Foley.  The cafeterias at W&M get all the herbs they use from these gardens.

Necessary Evil

I felt pretty good after an hour of transcribing.

The veggies I had for lunch were wearing off. I’d polished off the goat cheese Dave left me in the fridge.

I’d spent two hours transcribing interviews — and that puts a real strain on the back!  All told, I put in about five hours transcribing today. (I have so much more of it ahead of me this year. Manually transferring voice recordings into word files is excruciating — but it’s a necessary evil of qualitative research.)

Feeling wilted, I decided to treat myself to some veggie nut loaf at Mulligan’s Grocer, a restaurant I’ve mentioned before.  Yum!  This is one of Dave’s favorite meals in Dublin.  It perked me right up!

Returning home, I conquered the interview tape by 10:30 PM and found reason to celebrate when I got some good news from Google Alerts.  William and Mary just published a story about the class I taught this summer.  Check it out!