“Let’s abolish the PhD orals”

August 20, 2010 at 12:29 am Leave a comment

This is the takeaway message from Katherine L. Jako — who advocated to end the oral examination portion of doctoral programs back in 1974. [Download PDF here.]

Studying for orals usually means absorbing scraps of knowledge merely for the sake of having them available, reviewing old notes of readings mercifully forgotten, clawing fearfully through references one really “should” look at—all of this in order to be ready to answer a question that might be asked. One of my professors used to refer to Whitehead’s notion of “inert ideas” as “sodden baggage”; it struck me as a beautiful description, and just the sort of thing one lugs dutifully to an examination and deposits on the way out.

Related: The ProfHacker pens an open letter to new gradate students. There’s some sage advice in the comments section, as well.

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Entry filed under: etc, think. Tags: , .

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Jason R. Atwood

I'm an avid trail runner and doctoral student at U.C. Berkeley who studies motivation and the relationship between the mind and body. This blog is a forum to share research, news, and musings about these topics of interest. More

Play is the beginning of knowledge.

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