The 690/691 Research Experience
The week of February 9th was a long one for me. It snowed mercilessly that Sunday night. It was brutally cold on Monday morning. And I, armed with a trunk full of manila envelopes and golf pencils, embarked on the first of a series of three data collection points. I read from a script. I was a wild haired, cat eyed Vanna White as I pointed specifically to where I needed students to LEGIBLY print their name. And unequivocally, by the end of the week I could say I was a researcher.
The 690/691 Research Experience has been an opportunity to engage in the development of a research initiative from the ground up. Those first few weeks were spent attempting to pinpoint what it is. That is, what is the phenomenon that we wanted to study? Many conversations were had, and a diverse cross section of PhD students and professionals read, reported, discussed, lathered, rinsed, and repeated until we had something. Then came securing not one, but two IRB approvals. This whole process took the length of one semester. I know, right? Crazy.
The team of Edward Scott, Jessica Surdey, Jennifer Wegmann and me, led fearlessly by Mary Ann Swain, has learned a lot in a short amount of time. We were able to develop a comprehensive research initiative that is looking at the role of values in college student identity development. We have gone into numerous classes at both Binghamton University and SUNY Broome to gather data that provides us with a baseline of who our participants are and how they perceive themselves. We were able to quantitatively survey close to 700 students for this project. For our next point of data collection, we will be administering a treatment and yielding qualitative data, with options to work with this data in another project. Finally, we will go into these classrooms one more time to survey and quantitatively assess the effects of the treatment thereafter.
The team is a unique cross section of varying research interests, and this specific project speaks to each of those. For me, I am interested in the community college student experience. I am a product of the community college system and I believe in its mission of educational accessibility. This is why I advocated for collecting data from SUNY Broome in addition to Binghamton University. In addition to making sense of them individually, there is also an opportunity to compare the information yielded and relating them to each other as well. I am excited to find out what the results will be.
After our weekly meeting this week, we knew more about who our participants are demographically, as well as how clear they are in their self-concept; my SUNY Broome sample was younger than I thought they would be, with of course a few statistical outliers. These outliers are who I thought I would have a greater representation of, and though this is not great news for me, it has little bearing on the project itself.
We have two more points of data collection. As we assess throughout the process, the illuminating piece will happen after the third point, when we get to see if our treatment worked. At that time, we can start collaborating on a paper that is representative of the 690/691 Research Experience. That may end up being the 692 experience. What is so valuable about this process is that we are able to work collaboratively, practicing research methodologies that will assist us in collecting data when it is time to develop our dissertations.
My hopes and goals for data collection time 2: no snow. Spring, get here quick!
Doctoral Student, College of Community and Public Affairs at Binghamton University
Adjunct Instructor, SUNY Broome