TCR Grad Blog

Graduate director's blog for the Technical Communication and Rhetoric Program at Texas Tech University

Archive for May, 2009

Fees vs. Tuition for non-resident online doctoral students

Posted by Joyce on May 26, 2009

To whom it may concern,

Students in Texas Tech’s online doctoral program who are non-Texas residents are billed a particular way, and this way was dictated by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) when the program was approved in 2004. Instead of tuition, which the THECB wants to apply to in-state students and on-campus non-resident students, these online non-residents are billed a special instruction fee called Distance Ed Instruction Fee for more or less the amount of out-of-state tuition. At the same time, these students’ out-of-state tuition is waived so that the net effect is a fee bill that looks exactly the same as any other non-resident doctoral student attending classes on-campus without other fee or tuition waivers.

Regardless of what the fee bill itemized line says, this special instruction fee should be treated as tuition for these students. If you have any questions about this program or its fees and tuition, please don’t hesitate to write or call 806.742.2500 #237.

Sincerely yours,
Joyce Locke Carter, Ph.D.
Director of Graduate Studies, TCR
Texas Tech University
Box 43091
Lubbock, TX 79409-3091
ph: (806) 742-2501 #247 fax: 806-742-0989
program information:

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May Workshop 09 Presentations

Posted by Joyce on May 4, 2009

This year, we’re experimenting with something we talked about last year: having different lengths and formats depending on where you were in the program. Thus, we have scheduled 30 minute slots for upperclassmen and 20 minute slots for newbies.

1. What’s the purpose of presentations? First, it’s nice to get to know everyone and their scholarly interests. Second, we all have a stake in helping each other hone the various extracurricular parts of this profession, and presenting your work in front of a critical body of peers is a big part of what we do, whether it’s at a conference, in a job-talk, or in a lecture. We hope to establish a culture of sharing our work and sharing our criticism with each other — we figure it’s better to hear all about your presentational weaknesses from friends than from foes.

2. Who is the audience? Well, obviously your primary audience is your classmates and your faculty. But bear in mind that we’re hoping to channel the rest of your academic discipline when we ask you questions, so it is probably best to picture this audience as a typical group you’d see at a national conference like the STC, the 4C’s, ATTW, CPTSC, IEEE, or any number of specialized national conferences. In other words, this presentation isn’t an occasion for you to chat or tell a story — it should be taken as the kind of talk that’s worth proposing, flying across the country to give, and (for audience) to highlight in our program as worth listening to.

3. Can you speak for the entire block? No.

Both formats should allow for plenty of time for questions and formative criticism from the audience. Long-format talks should run no longer than 12-15 minutes, leaving 5 minutes for questions and 5 minutes for feedback (and 5 minutes for a break). In other words, when we’re on a longer-format schedule, we’ll start each speaker on the 30-minute mark, promptly. I’ll cut you off if you go past 15 minutes. Short-format talks should aim for 5-6 minutes of content, 4-5 minutes of Q&A, and 4-5 minutes for critique (leaving 4 minutes for breaks between speakers). We’ll start each short-format speaker promptly on the 20-minute mark.

If you are paired with someone in a round-table type of format, then you can pool your slots, but still allowing for lots of time for questions and feedback.

4. What should I speak about? Upperclassmen should speak about their own research, either something that they’re working for quals, a recent seminar paper, or their dissertation. Newbies should, by the very nature of a tight format, focus on something pithy, either from their seminar papers or literature reviews, or from a problem they’ve discovered in doing a literature review, or in their own work situation (something that intersects with rhetoric and/or technical communication).

And newbies, you’re not getting sold short — the CPTSC conference, widely praised as energetic and useful, requires a 3-5 minute position talk (robustly enforced) to allow for lots of interaction and engagement.

Regardless of your topic, please bear in mind that the 5 minutes or the 12-15 minutes you have in front of your academic field should be spent explaining, problematizing, detailing ideas that people want to hear. It never hurts to ask, “so what?” and imagine your audience asking themselves the same question while you’re speaking.

You will have a podium and an auditorium and a big screen that can show a networked computer, or even Powerpoint (if you’re into that kind of thing). Please be mindful of our need (as fellow academics and as students/faculty in your program) to hear you and engage with you — don’t turn your back on us as you enjoy your own powerpoint presentation. Use this occasion to make eye contact, to share your hard work, and build value for yourself and your academic program.

Because of the program’s stringent time/attention requirements, you should do what you should always do before giving any presentation at any conference: practice.

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Continual Enrollment for Online Doctoral Students

Posted by Joyce on May 2, 2009

Based on a couple of situations that arose in the past year, the TCR faculty met on May 1, 2009, and crafted the following policy that provides for breaking your continual enrollment based on extraordinary circumstances such as illness or losing your job.

For those of you in the online PhD program, you know that when we write you with our acceptance letter, we make it very clear that you’re expected to do the following things: take 4 courses per year, come to every May Workshop until you graduate, and maintain continual enrollment. This language isn’t just our program’s internal policy; it’s also the way we redefined “doctoral residency” with our graduate school when we proposed the program. And this redefined residency is then the basis for calling you “full time students” at a level of 3 hours per semester instead of 6 hours. So the requirement is good for you in multiple ways.

The faculty had its own reasons for wanting you to make good progress in coursework, based on our history with other online students and our concern that without such a requirement, you might take 5 years to complete coursework, thus harming the quality of the degree. So it’s a good policy from our perspective.

We knew that our policies would need to be modified based on emerging realities. Thus we have agreed that if you need to break continual enrollment, you can request a hiatus of no more than 12 months by petitioning the TCR faculty in writing, explaining your extraordinary circumstances in detail. We envision that reasonable requests will involve serious illness or serious, unforeseen economic hardship (such as being laid off), but other rationales may be persuasive. If your petition is accepted, the faculty will readmit you at the end of the period requested; if you do not return to continual enrollment at that point, you will be dropped from the program and will have to reapply and compete with all the new potential students applying at that time. If your petition is rejected, you will need to maintain continual enrollment or be dropped from the program. You may receive only one such a hiatus, which may include only one May Workshop.

This policy is effective immediately.

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