Dr Cay Alford answered some of our questions about being an academic mentor and shared some of her personal interests.
Can you tell us something about your academic path and areas of interest?
My education path involved a deep curiosity for information and an interest in literacy and history. I earned degrees in Psychology, Sociology, Education, with specialties in Early Childhood Education, Special Education, and Education Leadership. My Doctorate is in Education Leadership and Curriculum Instruction. My current research interests include Cognitive Dissonance, Special Education, Literacy, Leadership, and Social Justice.
Can you recommend some reading material in these areas?
For Leadership, I would recommend James MacGregor Burns, “Transforming Leadership”. I would recommend Benjamin Quarles’ “Black Abolitionists” for Social Justice., while for Special Education, read Gayle H. Gregory’s “Differentiated Instruction Strategies in Practice”
Any work you intend to do in the future (if you have the time)?
There are always areas that need further research and development and I do not believe enough attention has been given to “failed leadership.” This is something I would like to explore more.
At what levels are you mentoring for Warnborough?
I primarily mentor Doctoral Learners at Warnborough.
Can you describe what it is like to be a mentor from your experience?
I enjoy the interaction with the learners and enjoy helping them. It is good to collaborate with the learners to develop a well-written and comprehensive Dissertation that can stand up to academic scrutiny.
Does Warnborough’s research approach differ from other places?
Warnborough’s approach does not differ too much from others, once the student’s research proposal is approved. Once student has met the requirements, then the writing of the Dissertation adheres to a format and standards used by many universities. The student should have an introduction and explain why the topic is of importance, but also needs a thorough literature review. This should explain what prior research influenced his/her research, as well as report the findings and make recommendations for further research. The student should make recommendations and offer a conclusion based on his/her findings and explain why the research adds to the body of knowledge.
What are some of the challenges someone is likely to face when embarking on a PhD?
The learner must manage time wisely, collaborate with the mentor and follow standards set forth by the institution. The learner should research something he/she is passionate about.
Is there anything you would do differently if you were to do it again?
I would have earned my Doctorate sooner, as doors open for you once you have an earned one, that otherwise would have been closed to you.
Distance learning has really taken off in recent years. Do you think it will ever replace classroom based education?
Distance Learning serves a unique purpose and makes obtaining higher education more accessible for learners. It is a global phenomenon. Online learning may or may not replace traditional based education. I would like to see online learning and traditional based leaning coexist on equal terms.
What interests do you have aside from the things you have already mentioned?
I enjoy traveling, the theater, opera, ballet, reading, playing tennis and cycling.
Which person, past or present, would you most like to sit next to you on a plane journey across the Atlantic?
I would like to have had the opportunity to engage with many leaders of the past. I would like to sit next to Abraham Lincoln to find out why he was so depressed.
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