Knowing when to pull the plug…

So I’ve talked about the fact that I was working on writing a grant this semester.  It was an NSF grant to do professional development for high school teachers teaching computer science.  It’s something I’ve been working on for the past three years and I believe I finally have a model that is successful (with evidence!).  The problem is that when I conceived the idea I thought the research portion of the grant would feed into my dissertation.  At that point I was interested in studying how high school computing teachers learn from other teachers and change their teaching practice within the classroom.  How they display and use PCK (pedagogical content knowledge).

Since then my dissertation direction has changed 180 degrees.  So now the implementation of the grant becomes a ton a work for very little payoff in terms of my final goal.  While it would buy me out of my part-time teaching, it’s really just exchanging a known work quantity for an unknown work quantity.

So after discussing with my colleagues on the grant, we decided to pull the plug and not submit for this solicitation.  We’re withholding the right to submit again next year if we want, but we’ll revisit in about 6 months.

I have a tendency to overcommit to what I can reasonably accomplish and even I was becoming worried by the workload associated with the implementation of the grant.  It would have required a great deal of travel during the school year which is really not conducive to PhD studies.  It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, saying no to a grant that I thought was a good idea.  But it just doesn’t fit into the schedule right now.

Another great lesson from PhD land…picking your battles and learning to say no.

Briana Morrison

Briana Morrison is a first-year PhD student in Human Centered Computing (HCC) at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Briana graduated with a BS in Computer Engineering from Tulane University many years ago and has a Masters in Computer Science from Southern Polytechnic State University. Her research area is Computer Science Education and she is fortunate to work with Mark Guzdial. She has be a faculty member for 16 years teaching introductory programming and data structures among other things. For her mid-life crisis she decided to return to school to pursue a PhD. She is the mother of two (17 year daughter applying to colleges and 13 year old son applying to high schools). Between studies, teaching part time, and being a mother, she has very little time for recreation, but she plans to make up for it after graduation.
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