Tips for Writing Multiple Papers Simultaneously

My semester has consisted of writing, writing, and more writing! Because of this writing workload, I had to be extremely organized with my hours and writing time. Below are some tips and tools that I found helpful along the way to keep me on track, hold myself accountable, and achieve my writing goals that I hope will be useful to others writing multiple papers simultaneously.

#1: Make and continually assess a long-term strategic plan

Each semester I make a week-by-week plan with all my papers/projects so that I can see all my goals and tasks in one table. This helps me to ensure I meet deadlines for all my assignments (see tip #3) but also to manage my workload (see tip #2) on a weekly basis. As I’m creating my plan, I consider deadlines for each paper, mine and my team’s schedules, and other responsibilities outside of writing so that I may balance my workload each week to meet deadlines without burning out. I continually revisit this strategic plan every week or two to ensure that I am progressing, including assessing whether the plan needs to be adjusted. I also build in a buffer for each paper to account for any final reviews or edits that are needed prior to submitting – or in case I fall behind schedule. By creating and continually reassessing my plan, I am able to see what’s coming, so that deadlines don’t sneak up!

#2: Set short-term goals to manage workload

At the start of each week, I set my weekly writing goals and how I am going to allocate my time between my tasks. Weekly goals help me to break down my long-term goals into actionable, achievable items. Each week, my goal is to make incremental progress on each of my papers, which may range from small tasks (e.g., starting an outline) to larger tasks (e.g., writing a whole section of a paper). As I set my weekly goals, I utilize the long-term plan created in #1 to ensure that the heavy writing items for my papers do not all fall within the same week. By setting short-term goals, I stay on track while feeling a sense accomplishment each week that I am progressing on each of my papers.

#3: Create personal accountability structures

In order to keep myself accountable for my writing tasks, I consider both external and internal deadlines. I make sure that external journal and conference deadlines are clearly indicated in my strategic plan (in #1), with a reasonable workload each week to reach those deadlines. If there are no external deadlines, I will work with my team to set internal deadlines to keep our writing on track and hold each other accountable. I may also create a personal accountability structure by asking a teammate or colleague in advance if they are willing to review my writing. By setting deadlines, I am more likely to keep on task and work toward my writing goals!


All that being said, my long-term strategic plan helps me to see the bigger picture and balance my workload. Weekly goals allow me to make continual progress by completing manageable tasks. And an accountability structure provides motivation to achieve both my short-term and long-term goals. At the end of the day (or week or semester), I reflect on my accomplishments, whether a small writing task or a larger writing goal. I remind myself that any progress is good progress and that it will all get done in the end.

Tips for Finishing an Engineering Education Dissertation

When 2020 started, the first thing on my to-do list was “finish dissertation”. However, it was also a very overwhelming task! I learned that finishing a dissertation is like eating an elephant – one bite at a time. Here are some tips I learned for the final few months of a dissertation.

First, find what motivates you so you can keep going. For me, I kept telling myself that if I stopped moving forward or took a break, I would not graduate. So graduating was my key motivator.

Second, you do not need to write your document in order! Start with the chapters or sections that you already have written in other ways. This may be conference papers, your dissertation proposal, or papers for prior classes. You can repurpose our work to fit into the dissertation document structure. And it will feel good to see the pages starting to add up!

Third, keep detailed notes and write memos throughout your dissertation process, especially during the data collection and analysis phases. You can use these notes and memos to start writing more sections of your document. And help you remember everything you did!

Fourth, remember that you are not alone! There is a wealth of expertise in your research group, advisor, and committee who are there to help and support you. They can provide feedback on your analysis, results, and chapters. You can even practice your presentation for your defense! Do not be afraid to ask for help.

Fifth, take a step back and reflect on everything you have accomplished. When you are in the weeds of writing your document, it is easy to forget everything you have done over the last few years. And that your document is the accumulation and icing on the cake.

While writing a dissertation document is daunting, the end is in sight! Find a motivator and utilize the people and resources around you. Just take it a day at a time until one day when you will realize that you have finished your dissertation.

Reflection on Presenting an Interactive Conference Poster

This month, I attended the Frontiers in Education (FIE) conference for the first time. I enjoyed the smaller size of the conference, the sit-down lunch, and the availability to network with those that stopped by our booth. One of my responsibilities while at the conference was to present a poster during the student poster session, for which I chose to create a poster on the status of my dissertation work. However, I did not yet have any data to share with the attendees because my dissertation is still in progress, so I needed to come up with a poster design that did not use any data!

At the suggestion of our advisor, I created an interactive poster for attendees to engage with me and my methodology directly. The methodology I selected for my dissertation is Q methodology, which requires the participants to physically sort cards containing statements based on how strongly they agree or disagree with the statement, relative to one another, into a quasi-normal distribution shape (the Q-sort board). This process is called a Q-sort. To demonstrate this process to a larger audience, I decided to create smaller, example Q-sorts for the conference attendees. For one Q-sort, participants could sort cards containing breakfast food items. For the second Q-sort, participants sorted cards with movie genres. The example Q-sort board and statements that they could choose to sort are shown in the figure below.

Having an interactive poster at a conference was an interesting experience! When I would ask attendees walking by if they would like to learn more about how Q methodology works, I received mixed responses. Some would say “no” and continue walking on without interest in the activity. Others would like to discuss my poster and the methodology, but they were not interested in engaging with the interactive components of the poster. However, I did get a handful that said “yes!” and were excited to participate in the quick activity! One attendee who stopped by said he had been trying to learn how to do Q methodology on his own, but had not been able to understand it. He commented that after our discussion and his interaction with the activity on my poster, the methodology made sense to him!

Overall, while not everyone was excited to engage with an uncommon, interactive poster, it was successful it explaining Q methodology for those that did. And I plan on using the same interactive techniques in future posters and presentations.


How RIME is Using EML to Impact Student Motivation and Identity: The KEEN Project

You may have heard of the entrepreneurially minded learning (EML), 3C’s or the KEEN framework. But what are they? And how is RIME using EML in the EED to impact motivation and identity?

First off, KEEN [1] is a network of thousands of faculty at partner universities across the country. They collaborate to perform research on new methods and redesign engineering curricula in order to unleash the potential of their students.

How does the KEEN framework accomplish this?

The KEEN Framework is defined by the following equation:

Where the Engineering Mindset is defined by the 3C’s to teach students to understand the big picture of engineering:

  • Curiosity: Question with boldness. Explore contrarian perspectives.
  • Connections: Think outside the box. Place old ideas in new contexts.
  • Creating Value: Think opportunity. Stakeholders. Impact.

The Engineering Skillsets are defined as:

  • Opportunity: Refining concepts, thinking more broadly about the world, and understanding the customer for whom you are designing.
  • Design: Developing requirements, analyzing solutions, creating models or prototypes.
  • Impact: Communicating an engineering solution in economic terms, validating market interest, identifying supply chains distribution methods, and communicating an engineering solution in terms of societal benefits.

The Engineering Outcomes incorporate another 3C’s and is defined as:

  • The foundation of the Engineering Mindset
  • Coupled with Engineering Thought and Action: Applying creative thinking to ambiguous problems, applying systems thinking to complex problems, evaluating technical feasibility and economic drivers, and examining societal and individual needs
  • Expressed through Collaboration: Forming and working in teams, understanding the motivations and perspectives of others
  • And Communication: Conveying engineering solutions in economic terms, substantiating claims with data and facts
  • And founded on Character: Identifying personal passions and a plan for professional development, fulfilling commitments in a timely manner, discerning and pursuing ethical practices, contributing to society as an active citizen

Where does RIME fit into this equation?

RIME is part of a four-phase pilot project at OSU focused on EML’s impact on student motivation and identity. We are utilizing the Longitudinal Model of Motivation and Identity (LMMI), developed by Dr. Kajfez, RIME’s Principal Investigator [2], which combines self-determination theory (SDT) [3] and possible-selves theory (PST) [4].

  • SDT is concerned with the constructs of competence, autonomy, and relatedness to increase motivation and identity
  • PST allows individuals to set goals, think to the future, and envision themselves after completing some experience.

What did we do?

We wanted to investigate how other KEEN network institutions are incorporating EML into their first-year engineering curricula in order to develop a curriculum at OSU that integrates their best practices while examining the progress of student motivation, identity, engineering skillsets, and learning over the first-year. To do so, our research question was:

In what ways do entrepreneurial minded learning (EML) experiences affect first-year engineering students’ motivation and identity development?

Members of RIME, along with other EED faculty, traveled to five different KEEN sites to collect data. We conducted focus group interviews with faculty that are incorporating EML in their classrooms, performed observations of classrooms that utilize EML, and administered a survey to students regarding EML and LMMI topics.

What did the results say we should do?

Some of the best practices showed that faculty should:

  • Allow students some type of choice in their project to increase autonomy.
  • Incorporate real-world elements so that students begin to see themselves as real engineers that are contributing real value to society.
  • Allow students to work in teams where they build connections and relatedness through collaboration with their customers as well as other students on their teams.
  • Emphasize that nothing is failure: mistakes are a learning opportunity which build competence, confidence, and character.
  • Provide assistance to the student teams to strengthen their competence and relatedness.

The results were then incorporated into the redesign process of the first-year engineering courses to develop learning objectives, course activities, and assessments. These new courses are currently being piloted!

To read more about our research results, click here [5] and check back for future publications!


[1]        The Kern Family Foundation, “The KEEN framework,” 2019. [Online]. Available:

[2]        R. L. Kajfez, H. M. Matusovich, and W. C. Lee, “Designing developmental experiences for graduate teaching assistants using a holistic model for motivation and identity,” Int. J. Eng. Educ., vol. 32, no. 3, pp. 1208–1221, 2016.

[3]        R. Ryan and E. Deci, “Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation,” Am. Psychol., vol. 55, no. 1, pp. 68–78, 2000.

[4]        H. Markus and P. Nurius, “Possible selves,” Am. Psychol., vol. 41, no. 9, pp. 954–969, 1986.

[5]        R. Desing, R. L. Kajfez, K. M. Kecskemety, D. Grzybowski, and M. F. Cox, “Work-in-progress: Mapping entrepreneurial minded learning with the longitudinal model of motivation and identity in first-year engineering courses,” in 10th Annual First Year Engineering Experience (FYEE) Conference, 2018.



My Path to Engineering Education

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

This has always been one of my favorite quotes and one that I strive to follow on a daily basis. I constantly challenge myself in life by pushing beyond my comfort zone, from attending Georgia Tech to selecting engineering as a career, and even snowboarding. And coming to OSU’s new Department of Engineering Education graduate program and studying within the field of engineering education is no different!

I followed the path that my personal experiences have taken me: from enjoying math and science throughout school, to loving college and industrial engineering, to pursuing an engineering career through analytics consulting, and enjoying supporting future engineers in K-12.

A common thread throughout my path is my experience as a woman in engineering, where we are still underrepresented and have to overcome gender-based challenges, whether in school or in the workplace. I feel that I have worked twice as hard to prove my skills, gain respect, and navigate through difficult situations. However, I enjoy inspiring self-confidence in girls and encouraging them to study engineering. I enjoy being a peer mentor and supporting other women through their transition to the workplace, to guide them through difficult situations at work, or to just lend a helping hand. I hope that by being a mentor and role model, girls and women will be confident to pursue an engineering career as I have.

So, what is my motivation for pursuing this degree and changing career paths? My goal is to creatively integrate my personal and professional experiences into one mission: supporting professional women engineers through retaining their interest and confidence. While it was a difficult decision to put my career on hold, I am optimistic about the future that it provides. I plan to take advantage of this opportune time amidst the current women’s activism movement and the emergence of the engineering education field to challenge the status quo and accelerate change for women in engineering. Engineering education is a great opportunity to apply my engineering background to helping others and advancing engineering for women. All women and girls should be able to forge the path that they choose.

— Renee Desing


Welcome to the RIME Collaborative! Take a look around at our team and what we do. Let us know if you have any questions!