Saturday, September 21, 2013

"What Does the Fox Say?": A Theoretical Research Analysis

Recently a high quality and thought-provoking song, commonly called "What Does the Fox Say?" came to youtube, changing people's lives everywhere. With over 44 million views, it's sure to hit the hall of fame right up there with Gangnam Style. Today I'd like to emphasize a quality of the song that I fear even many enthusiasts may have missed. Just in case you haven't seen it yet, I included it below so you can be informed.

The quality I'm referring to is the blatant setup of the song. It has clear reference to a theoretical research paper, possibly a dissertation. Allow me to explain. In graduate school, we talk about theoretical research's nuances, uses, shortcomings, and idealizations. I'll break it down by parts to make it easier.

Literature review: In a research project, this is the part of the paper wherein the author discusses related information and what is already known. Ylvis, the scholar responsible for "What Does the Fox Say?", accomplishes this masterfully in the lines: "Dog goes woof; cat goes meow; bird goes tweet; and mouse goes squeek ... and the seal goes ow ow ow ow ow." As you can see, I left out the middle of the brilliant line of poetry because to capture its full effect, you'd have to actually watch the video. If you haven't watched it yet, please do so before continuing to the next point.

Research question: After providing the background research and context, it's only natural to present the research question. This is the inquiry you're trying to answer through all of you reading and experimentation. In the above song, the research question is most aptly stated: "What does the fox say?" We are even reminded throughout the piece what, in fact, the research question is.

Hypothesis: As you may know, this part of the research project is the author's conjecture as to the outcome of the experiment. This is something Ylvis paid particular attention to. He cites a large number of hypotheses including, but not limited to: "Ring-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding!", "Wa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pow!", and "Tchoff-tchoff-tchoffof-tchoffo-tchoff!" In my humble opinion, he should have chosen one or two. But his project got 44 million views. Who am I to judge?

Significance of Project: A research project is hardly worth tackling without a clear reason. In this case, the reason is clear. The fox is his guardian angel, so great-jars-o-gumdrops Ylvis wants to know WHAT THE FOX SAYS. Any further discussion of this point is unnecessary.

Methods: Also referred to as experimental design, this step in the process exists to explain the researcher's steps to answering the research question. Unfortunately, Ylvis's methods are less than exemplary. He makes some vague references to the fox's supposed location, but he offers no plan of action for finding it. He says, "The secret of the fox... ancient mystery. Somewhere deep in the woods—I know you're hiding. What is your sound?" So does Ylvis plan experimentation? Content analysis? Surveys? He seems to be implying a direct observation, but again, there is no exact explanation of his projected methods for experimentation.

Annotated bibliography: Scientific research calls for strict adherence to APA Style 6th Edition. Unfortunately, Ylvis not only appears to be ignoring this rule but also he doesn't even include an annotated bibliography! Where did he get these facts? In what article did he learn that cats say meow? I'm just waiting for someone to accuse him of plagiarism. I don't want to be there for that lawsuit.

Conclusions/Data Analysis: Because neither of these are present in "What Does the Fox Say?" we can only assume that Ylvis intended his piece to be a project proposal. If the 44 million views are any indication, I believe his project has been approved. Yes, Ylvis. In spite of your blatant disregard for APA Style, America wants to know. What DOES the fox say?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The "Freshman" Times of Life

My freshman year of college I sat next to a sophomore named Molly in sociology class. I'd never met her before, but Molly still knew I was a freshman. I, of course, asked her how she knew. Instead of stating the obvious (that I looked like a 16-year-old), she pointed out a more universal phenomenon: I had the freshman glaze. I regarded my surroundings as if they were an alien world, as if I had no idea what I was doing there, as if a man-eating monster might at any moment emerge from the floorboards. Of course, I set to work at erasing my freshman glaze. I wanted to look like I belonged.

Eventually, I succeeded. People asked ME for directions. Now I was the one snickering about the expressions of terror freshmen wore on the first day of school. But my whole perspective on the freshman state of mind changed when I went to London.

That was my first time flying alone, my first time out of the North American continent, and my first time living completely on my own. I had to figure out the transportation system, budget my own money, keep track of my possessions, look out for myself, live alone, and start a new job. As an added bonus, I really had no idea what I'd be doing for said job other than that I'd be working at the Olympics. I worked 12-14 hour days for 29 days straight with one day off. For at least the first week of the month that I was in London, I felt like I was making it up as I went along. During the first week, I began to recognize the feeling: I was a freshman again. Not in the sense that I was starting college over again—I was starting something NEW. In that case, it was a new job at a new Olympics, in a new country.

Yes, eventually I got the hang of my job, and since then, I've had to get used to various other things life threw my way. However, I haven't felt this much like a freshman since I actually was a freshman in college. And that's because now I'm in grad school.

Grad school is a funny thing. You're new, but you're not new to college or education. At this point, I'm 22. I've been through 17 years of education. So I'm supposed to know what I'm doing now, right? This is Melissa we're talking about here. To explain my profound lack of a sense of direction, I usually tell people that I have trouble "finding my mailbox at the end of my driveway." My undergrad University could probably fit into one of the libraries here. As my graduate school friends have told me, grad classes are different. For me, they're only once per week. I imagine I'll read and write more, which is fine with me, but it will be different. This semester, I have two new jobs and three new classes. I'm looking forward to it.

Molly was right. I did look like a freshman. And since I still look too young to be in graduate school, people here often mistake me for a freshman. I probably still look a bit confused like one. But that's okay. I'm so glad to be here. And I like adventures. And, as always, God is good.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Say No to Drugs - But Seriously

As kids, we like to build sandcastles, invent imaginary stories of great creatures and heroes, eat dessert, play games outside/inside, go to friends' birthday parties, and spend time with family. At least, that's what I liked to do.

It seems like people just aren't creative anymore. I'm not going to discuss the idea that "kids these days" watch too much TV and play too many videos games—not because I don't think that but because I'm not a parent. What I'm talking about here is people my age.

If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone between the ages of 16 and 25 say, "Well, there's not really anything to do in this town," I'd have a lot of money. I don't think there's much to do anywhere if you're not creative.

Honestly, I like doing pretty much the same things now that I liked when I was in elementary school: writing stories, making/eating good food, reading, playing sports/games, going to parties, and hanging out with people I love. (To name a few things). And yes, I still build sandcastles at the beach, and when my college friends and I went to Florida over spring break, we built a sandcastle fit for royalty.

My school was in a small town. What did we do for fun? We explored the creek, went swing dancing, released Tangled-esque lanterns off a cliff in the middle of the night, went stargazing, watched sports games, made food together, and visited the rope swing. We had a BLAST.  Sure, there were times that we all gathered together to watch a movie (usually preceded by a good meal), and that's fine, but we were creative.

One of my friends said the other day that all young adults do for fun these days is drink, do drugs, and have illegitimate children. I thought that was really depressing. It's probably because they've forgotten what they liked to do when they were kids. As always, I'm not trying to condemn anyone here. But put down the drugs, and let's play basketball, eat cake, or build a sandcastle. Your choice.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Scooter Girl Goes to Grad School

For the first 12 years of my life, going to school was one of my worst nightmares.

Why? Because I had been home schooled for my entire life, and I was terrified of anything unknown, which included going to school. However, my parents decided it was best for my sister to go so she could learn the higher level math and sciences, and I wasn't about to be left out. So little 12-year-old Melissa got some Christian-school uniforms and a lunchbox and a blue LL Bean book bag and went to school.

Although I was unfortunately very sick on my first day of school, I didn't die. After a few weeks, I found that school was actually kind of cool. I got to learn from different teachers, play floor hockey in gym class, play soccer on the school team, and eat lunch with a bunch of kids. Best of all, I found out that I wasn't stupid. Before I went to school, I was convinced I'd have to work myself to death just to avoid failing.

Then, six years later, I went to college, as most of you know. For the most part junior high and high school were fine (although senior year I was very ready for it to be over), it was nothing compared to college. College was like camp with some learning thrown in, and I LOVED it. I could stay up late, eat dessert before dinner, wear whatever I wanted (no uniforms!), and best of all, hang out constantly with the hundreds of fantastic people I'd just met.

Also, I liked learning. Yes, I am a school nerd. Lots of people were very ready to be done with all the tests and papers and homework and lectures. I wasn't. But time passed, as it always does. I always thought that my senior year of college, I'd miraculously figure out exactly what I should do with my life.

This was not the case.

What do I want to do? Well, I want to work in publishing, public relations, editing, writing, and teaching. All at once. Now. All of them. Is that possible? Maybe.

Let me say it again: I LOVE SCHOOL. So why not grad school? That was something I had barely considered before a year ago. I didn't know anything about grad school. Why go? How long does it take? How much does it cost? I had no idea.

But I like to research, so I did. What did I find out? 

1. The economy stinks. Thus, grad school. 
2. If I went to grad school, I could get a doctorate and become a professor. Thus, grad school. 
3. In grad school I could still have a lot of things I like about college: meeting new people my age, multiple random jobs, summers, and LEARNING STUFF. Thus, grad school.

I won't bore you by describing the long hours I spent signing up to be on grad school emailing lists, talking to current grad students, and searching websites for assistantship opportunities.

Long story short, in the fall I'm going to the University of Kentucky to study communication. I wanted to do something related to my two majors—journalism and media communication—but not exactly the same. By God's grace, I also got an assistantship working in the writing and media lab so I can afford to go. I am SO BLESSED.

Scooter and I are so excited.