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Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes!

Today, I would like to talk about changes. This semester has brought a lot of changes in my life, and I have had mixed feelings about them. The way I figure it, the best way to cope with something is to talk about it, so that is what I’m going to do. Read the rest of this entry

Step Five: Conducting the Research

Happy Tuesday, readers!

I feel as if we have packing for our metaphorical research journey together, and we are finally ready to embark! Today I would like to talk about actually conducting your research. The thing is, I have no idea what you might be researching, and since the only experience I have is in psychological research, I would like to talk about general research tips. So, based on my personal experiences, here is a list of things to keep in mind:

Give yourself as much time as you can:

In my case I did summer research, and I felt as if time just rushed past me. Six weeks into my project, I only had two participants. Two. Around week seven I cracked down, did some serious recruiting, and things really took off for me. That being said, I don’t advise procrastinating, but rather being realistic about how long research might actually take.

Get all of your ducks in a row:images

Have a plan for the who, what, when, and how of your project. I dedicated myself to visiting the assisted living facility every Sunday, for at least one hour of recruiting and any additional time it took to conduct the actual research. On average, I was at the facility for around three to four hours every Sunday, and then I would go home and work with my data. Having a plan will help you stay on track and motivated.

Adapt to the demands of your project:

As I mentioned above, I had decided to do research every Sunday during the summer. It took me about three weeks to figure out what time to go on Sundays. If I went before 10 a.m., the residents would be sleeping. Yet, they had lunch at noon. Then, if I went in the afternoon they had Sunday service at 3 p.m., and then dinner directly after. Through a process of trial and error, I figured out that the perfect time for me to go was at 10 a.m., then take a break for lunch, and then continue from around 1-2:30 p.m. Obviously, your project is going to pose different demands, but the point is to mold yourself to what needs to be done.

If your original plan doesn’t work out, just go with it:

There were multiple aspects of my original research plan that just didn’t work out. I didn’t have as many participants as I had originally wanted. I didn’t conduct a post-test 4 weeks later as I had originally planned. I also had to add in participants that weren’t necessarily depressed. My point is, when conducting research, you have to adapt to the situation. At first I really beat myself up because I felt as if I was failing at my project. Luckily I have an awesome advisor that said, “Ashley, the fact that you’re out there doing the research is the important part. Everything else will work out.”

These are just a few points that I hope will aid you in your research. Really, the overall theme of this post is to persevere in whatever your research throws at you. If you have any questions or would like to share your own experiences, please comment below!

Baby Come Back! You Can Blame It All On Me…

I’m sitting at my computer, thinking about how to communicate how I am feeling. It’s difficult because the past few months have been one of those times in life where you look back, and you’re not really sure how time could move so fast and how you could have moved so slowly. First, to all of my readers, I want to give you a heartfelt apology. My life got crazy, and I neglected writing because in my mind I was only disappointing myself. After sitting down and looking at a piece of paper with stats that showed me that people truly do care about my life and my words, I am newly committed to writing consistently and honestly. I never truly thought before now that what I sent out into the world was being read by anyone other than my dad, but knowing that there are people that enjoy reading my posts gives me the inspiration that I had lost.

So let us talk about what life has brought me this past summer! I stopped posting somewhere near the middle of April, and as you can imagine, the end of year brought the struggle of finals. Then, I moved to Knoxville at the beginning of the summer and moved in with my new, shiny fiancé! He proposed on Easter Sunday, April 20th, and I can tell you at the moment of my writing this there are 477 days, 10 hours, 18 minutes, and 39 seconds until I say “I do”  to my best friend. By the time we moved in together, I had already missed a couple of posts and it was easy to let the obligation slip my mind. Jared and I spent the next month figuring out what it meant to pay bills, eat off 75$ for two weeks, and spend quality time together. We felt the struggle of losing major income, Jared struggling to find a job, sorting out who got what chores, and much more. We also got to enjoy movie nights, cooking our favorite meals together, hanging out with friends and family, and living life side by side. There were definitely fights and struggles. There was also laughter and love. This summer was probably the best thing that could’ve happened in our relationship, because now we know what the real world feels like and that we can get through it together.

Yay!

Meanwhile, I embarked on an adventure! This summer I had three jobs, and they all had special challenges to go along with them. I discussed them in my post “She Works Hard for the Money,” but actually doing them was a unique experience. Monday through Friday, I worked 8am-12pm at my internship at the Parkwest Senior Behavioral Unit, and 1pm-6pm at the local daycare. I absolutely loved my time at Parkwest. The unit, which consisted of 16 acute-care beds, treated seniors with a variety of psychiatric and behavioral problems. There I learned how to do one-on-one therapy, communicate with families, and what it means to work in a hospital setting. This internship has also inspired me to pursue a career in social work! I am hoping to be admitted to the UT Masters of Science in Social Work program, and I will be applying for that later this semester. At the daycare I learned to work in the new after school room, which consisted of 5-11 year olds. Let me tell you: angry eight year-olds is a whole different ballgame than preschoolers, and I definitely developed as a daycare teacher this summer. This year, when I left, I felt like I had truly done good work.  By the time I got home every day, I had worked ten hours and was absolutely exhausted. Jared typically took pity on me and cooked dinner, and for that please give him a round of applause.

My third job was my summer research. Every Sunday I went to a local assisted living facility and conducted research that focused on music listening. Special challenges that came with this project included jumping through all of the legal hoops involved with working with the elderly, accommodating hearing disabilities, encouraging subjects to participate, and much, much more. As of last week, I am officially done with data collection! My next step is to analyze my data and begin constructing my poster presentation for the Appalachian College Association Summit in October. I am super nervous and excited to present my work for the Summit, but I have so much to do beforehand! Look out for an upcoming series by me highlighting the research process from start to finish. From applying for a grant, to getting IRB approval, to data collection and analysis, and even presentation; I am excited to share with my readers both my project and what a general research project entails.

So this summer had been the best and most challenging part of my life thus far. I don’t consider it an excuse for not writing, but at the end of the day my priorities were so focused on my work, my family and my relationship that it felt like there was room for nothing else. Here is to a new start! Feel free to comment below on what you did this summer!