Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Trepidation Mixed With Enthusiasm

Written by: on January 10, 2024

Entering into this semester, I have certainly felt a level of trepidation that has prompted doubts on my decision to enter into a doctoral program. 

My affinity for learning has always thrived, but as an oral learner and verbal processor, reading and writing are not my first choices for knowledge acquisition and expression.

As reading is time consuming and can require considerable work to ingest, audio books and video content on a given subject have become dear companions. Despite the challenges with reading, I acknowledge that it opens up a world of opportunity for both personal and intellectual growth. Consequently, I am looking forward to the required reading this semester. I have enjoyed Mortimer Adler and Charles van Doren’s book, How to Read a Book. The concepts are extraordinarily simple, yet surprisingly new to me. In this week’s readings, I have tested out inspectional reading on both How to Take Smart Notes by Sonke Ahrens and The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking by Richard Paul and Linda Elder. I was pleasantly surprised at the depth of learning that can be gleaned from just an inspectional reading. 

On the other hand, I love writing. I find it therapeutic and helpful to get my thoughts organized and processed. Nevertheless, academic writing also instills a fair amount of apprehension. This is one reason I have generally pursued education and career in STEM fields. As a child of an immigrant parent, my vocabulary has been simple and my grammar only average. As I was looking for doctoral programs, two doctoral students warned me of the rigor of writing standards at the doctoral level, and both shared how their writing skills grew dramatically over the course of their programs. It is with this awareness that I eagerly anticipate the writing required in this program, viewing it as an opportunity to elevate my writing to the doctoral level. 

Thankfully, note-taking comes naturally and while I can brush up on some skills, I am generally proficient in this area. I take notes nearly every day, some for the purpose of recollection, but often to process insights.

This week, applying Ahrens’s simple techniques to boost learning are already proving to be fruitful. I’ve used Obsidian for the first time, and already find it to be an incredible tool. My note-taking has just jumped to a whole new level through differentiating between fleeting, literature, and permanent notes. While I already feel confident in note-taking, I look forward to becoming an expert and boosting my ability to find connections, gather insights, and solve problems. 

I found the combination of note-taking and inspectional reading to be beneficial in knowledge retention as well as critical thinking. As I was doing an inspectional reading on The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking, I was forced to put the content into my own words, and essentially go through some of the Checklist for Reasoning.

While my doctoral experience has been infused with concern in reading and writing, I am thankful for the opportunity to increase in efficiency and effectiveness in both.

About the Author

Christy Liner

11 responses to “Trepidation Mixed With Enthusiasm”

  1. Graham English says:

    Christy, your writing skills are great. I think everyone in the program likely feels that they are challenged. The fact that you are proficient in note-taking and processing thoughts is already a strength that will likely be leveraged as you grow in your writing skills.

  2. Nancy Blackman says:

    I agree with Graham. Your writing is easy to read and the fact that you take notes regularly is extremely helpful in this process (I’m guessing). I’m curious. Are you taking notes by hand?

  3. mm Ryan Thorson says:

    Yes same here! Loved your writing and clear voice and I think that your skills in note taking will be a huge asset in your growth. I’m so excited for your research and to learn more from you. How are you taking notes on the research component of this semester?

    • Christy Liner says:

      I just started with Obsidian and am enjoying it so far! One learning I’ve had with note taking – I try to write down insights rather than just summarizing or quoting content. That forces me to think more critically than just absorbing information.

  4. Elysse Burns says:

    Christy, I identify with the title of your blog! I also feel a mixture of trepidation and enthusiasm. Adler and Van Doren have given me hope that I will become a better reader, but I feel overwhelmed by the realization that this program will really stretch us.

    I too was surprised by the “newness” of Adler and Van Doren’s concepts. I kept thinking, “Why wasn’t this required reading at the undergraduate level?” To some extent, I think we have all navigated through some version of the four levels of reading naturally, but the authors were very kind to give readers structure and a process.

    I would be interested in hearing about some of your note-taking methods. My note-taking practices lean towards pitiful. I look forward to learning Obsidian, and I’m happy to hear that you’re already finding this tool beneficial.

    It was a joy to read your first blog post of the semester!

    • Christy Liner says:

      Hi Elysse! I’m certainly not an expert but my main recommendation would be to apply critical thinking to your note taking. Quoting and summarizing may be helpful for recollection, but I prefer to answer the question, ‘so what of it?’ For me personally, when I default to quoting and summarizing, I can unintentionally forget to think critically, and actually consider my own thoughts towards the reading. Essentially, I focus on insights more than regurgitation. Best to you!

  5. Julie O'Hara says:

    Christy, Your post helped me re-think my current proficiency at note-taking. Perhaps my scribbles and questions and the way the also help me process laid a foundational that will give a boost to using the tools we are discovering. Thank you.

  6. Noel Liemam says:

    Hi, Christy, thank you for the positive insight you have shared. Regardless of the fact that they are your own experience, it encourages me to look on the bright side.
    Thank you.

  7. mm Chris Blackman says:

    Hi Christy!
    I love that you pushed yourself through the trepidations of joining this program! Your writing gives me hope as we all struggle in our comfort levels (I also love audiobooks.) Looking forward to encouraging all of us to walk together through this program.

  8. Daren Jaime says:

    Christy! Thank you for sharing. Breathe and relax. Your writing was clear and easy to read. You are not on a solo ship so get on the boat, the majority of us are walking in trepidation-while walking by faith. I am reminded of the Joyce Meyer message where she declares: If you are afraid, do it afraid! Congrats on pressing pass the obstacle and embracing the opportunity!

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