David Wright @ NC State

Scholarship of Discovery

Disciplined investigation and the search for new knowledge for its own sake is central to higher education, and in Boyer's words, "is at the very heart of academic life." The contribution of scholarly discovery is not only to the sum of human knowledge, but is also the excitement, vitality, and passion that result from the process of research as well as the outcomes.

My father is an engineer (professionally), craftsman (hobby), and technician (necessity) who taught me from a very young age to be inquisitive, to look at problems from different perspectives, and to experiment in order to help me build my own understanding of the world around me. Entering college later in life has given me a different perspective on both the process of higher education as well as the results. This perspective has allowed me to see similarities and parallels between concepts that seem to be very different or unrelated. For example, a course I took on academic and professional writing discussed several often used processes for professional writing. The parallels with well-known software development methodologies were obvious to me, helping me understand what kinds of writing tasks would be best served by the different processes we covered. Another example is the similarities between goal-oriented software development and the use of learning objectives as a basis for designing lessons, courses, and curricula.

This part of my portfolio provides an overview of my research work in different areas, including both research towards my Master's and Doctoral degrees as well as other avenues of investigation that I have been priveledged to participate in.

Master's Research

My Master's thesis research was my first in-depth introduction to academic research, and was itself a very challenging voyage. In fact, the first topic my advisor, Dr. Purush Iyer, and I chose to work on turned out to be a much larger problem than either of us anticipated. As a result, I had to backtrack and identify a more specific problem that would leverage, as much as possible, the literature research I had already conducted while being an appropriate problem for a Master's thesis. more...

Ph.D. Research

After completing my Master's degree and deciding to continue on for a Ph.D., I met with Dr. Iyer to discuss possible research topics. He gave me some very sound advice - be sure that what I chose as a topic for my dissertation was somethiing that I could be enthusiastic and passionate about for at least seven to ten years. After considering this advice for several months, I did decide to focus my dissertation research in another area of computer science, one that I was much more interested in and was developing a passion for. However, this decision also meant that I would have to do a great deal of reading to "catch up" in the area of software engineering. more...

Research Ethics

I became interested in the ethical conduct of research when, as a graduate teaching assistant, I caught several graduate students committing gross plagiarism on an assigned research paper. Shortly after this incident, the first Walter H. Wilkinson Graduate Research Ethics Fellowship was announced. I applied for the fellowship but was not selected. However, I was invited to participate in the Land Grant University Research Ethics as a Junior Fellow. more...

Graduate Student Development

For the past year I have been working at the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning (FCTL) as a research assistant, charged with investigating how other institutions prepare graduate students for teaching responsibilities and making recommendations for future graduate student teaching development programs. This work has been very interesting and educational, both in the research content and in the bright and talented people I have had the priveledge of working with. more...

Engagement

Another part of my responsibilities as a research assistant for the FCTL has been to investigate how to integrate the concept of engagement into graduate student development. Engagement refers to the mutually beneficial and reciprocal interaction between researchers, teachers, students, and the community that connects disciplinary expertise, university knowledge and resources, and shared goals and agendas. My work in this area was put on hold due to the transition of the CoAT program from the FCTL to the Graduate School this spring, but this area of scholarship has piqued my interest, and I continue to look for interesting readings on the subject when I can. more...