My Project Reflection

WorkLifeBalance-e1354144004650.pngPicture found here

 

As some of you may know, I have been in the process of completing a research paper that questions, ‘Do university students at UOW have a balance between their social, work and university life?’  Throughout this research process I have learnt an incredible amount about research and its differing strategies. In particular I have learnt the importance of curiosity, flexibility and critical judgement.

Curiosity is the starting point for any research project. I think Zora Neale Hurston explains it accurately when she says, “Research is formalised curiosity.” Curiosity is what drove me to question the work/life balance of university students. This particular question interests me so much because I struggle continuously to keep a balance. I know I’m not alone in this struggle which has resulted in a curiosity in knowing how many other students at UOW are in a similar position and to what extent. This curiosity is what connected my learning of this issue to particular researching practices.

Flexibility is another important strategy for any research task that is dependent upon responses from particular individuals, especially for my own paper. Flexibility became relevant from the beginning when I received feedback for my first submission of this project. It was made clear that my first question was too broad. This actually made me feel relieved as I ended up hating the original topic and I knew that I wouldn’t enjoy researching it. Without the ability to have a flexible timeframe and option to change ideas within the third week, this change wouldn’t of been possible. Flexibility also became necessary when I wasn’t receiving responses for my survey quick enough, causing me to push back my focus group session. To be conscious of the need for flexibility you need to be aware of the problems that can arise that can impact your project and your timeframe.

My ability to critically judge sources definitely improved over the course of this semester. Initially in tasks one and two, I definitely did not have a thorough understanding of what critical judgment entailed. Despite this negative start, I believe that I made a vast improvement from task two to my final research paper. I achieved this by applying the CRAAP Test that was introduced to us in both our lecture and tutorial. This test gives you five things to look out for when determining the credibility of a source – Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy and Purpose. This helped me determine the most appropriate and accurate sources to use, a skill I can use for years to come.

On reflection, I consider the results of my research project to be a success. I was able to answer my question as I discovered that a vast majority of students DO NOT have a consistent balance between their work, university and social life. Through the choice of my methodology I was able to discover that this imbalance is mostly due to the working hours that all students are averaging at 20 hours per week. This leads to mental health problems that many students addressed during my focus group session. I believe the choice of a survey and a focus group were the right methods to choose for the answers that were required for each.

Despite these successes, if I was able to compete this task over again I would definitely do particular things differently. After completion of the survey and focus group I would hold another session of singular interviews that delve deeper into particular questions. This would allow for more thorough and descriptive research, especially in the case of asking ‘why’ for the reasons behind my key findings. An example of this would be to ask WHY people work. Is it due to necessity or is a career move?

Throughout the duration and execution of my research paper I made a conscious effort to keep up to the ethical standards that are expected of any professional researcher. Tilley (1998) in particular talks about informed consent within schooling environments. For each individual’s participant in the survey (students aged 18+ only) I ensured consent of participation through a starter page that did not allow anyone to go any further before agreeing to the terms and stating that each person was happy for me to use their information anonymously. This too applied for my focus group.

This research task has become invaluable as it has taught me the values of what makes credible research and how to become a successful researcher. These skills are especially essential because they give me the communication skills necessary for a Communications and Media Studies Bachelor and will help with all future research
tasks.

I hope you have enjoyed reading the progress of my research paper.
Until next time,
Georgie.

Bibliography:

  • California State University (2010) Evaluating Information – Applying the CRAAP Test, viewed 22 May, < http://www.csuchico.edu/lins/handouts/eval_websites.pdf >.
  • K, Bowles 2017, ‘Research Practice in Media & Communication: Critical Judgment,’ PowerPoint slides, BCM212, University of Wollongong, viewed 27 May, 2017.
  • K, Bowles 2017, ‘Research Practice in Media & Communication: Curiosity,’ PowerPoint slides, BCM212, University of Wollongong, viewed 27 May, 2017.
  • K, Bowles 2017, ‘Research Practice in Media & Communication: Flexibility,’ PowerPoint slides, BCM212, University of Wollongong, viewed 29 May, 2017.
  • K, Bowles 2017, ‘Research Practice in Media & Communication: Respect,’ PowerPoint slides, BCM212, University of Wollongong, viewed 27 May, 2017.
  • M, Dugan, Tolerating Ambiguity, viewed 23 May, < http://knowinnovation.com/2013/04/tolerating-ambiguity/>.
  • S, A Tilley 1998 ‘Conducting Respectful Research: A Critique of Practice,’ Canadian Journal for Education, vol. 23, no. 3, pp. 316 – 328.
  • Stokes, J 2003, How to do Media and Cultural Studies, 2nd edn, SAGE Publications Ltd, London.
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My Project Update

I am very happy to announce that I have recently changed my topic for my BCM research project. My original question was much too broad which would definitely hinder the success of my project. I now have a much more interesting, narrow and relevant topic that relates to every single university student…

‘How are young university students at UOW balancing between their social, work and uni life?’ This particular question interests me so much because I know I struggle continuously with balancing between these difference aspects.

So what progress have I made?
I thought that the most convenient and beneficial way to go about getting the data needed for my new project topic would be to compose a survey. I’ve written all of the question and I’m just in the process of moving everything onto Survey Monkey. Keep an eye out because in a few days I’ll be posting the link to my survey and it would be great if anyone and everyone could please participate in it/ Alongside this I am also in the process of composing questions for a Focus Group Interview that will allow me to delve deeper into particular UOW student’s lives and the balance within.

The background research I have made has really helped me fine-tune each question I have included. It’s really amazing the findings I have come across and I can’t wait to share them all with you. I also cannot wait to see what the results are of each of the methods I plan on using to collect all of the necessary data. I’m looking forward to finding out if anyone else is in the same struggle boat as I am, alongside learning how/if students prioritise and deal with the balancing of work, university and their social life.

If anyone has any additional comments or relevant sources feel free to comment below.
Talk to you soon,
Georgie.

University and Gender stereotypes

I’m sure we’re all aware of the stereotypical belief (a very old belief), that men should be the ones to continue on with their education while a female should only worry about her family and the household duties that come with it.

I’m lucky enough to of been born into a generation where it is no longer a rarity for a female to go to university to further her education. Women are no longer categorised as a ‘Stay at Home Mum,’ but as powerful and intelligent entities that can continue on with their education if they so wish to. The same privilege given to men.

I’ve always been curious to find out the extent of how far we have come in regards to this change. I’ve also always been curious to know if there are any modern families that still hold onto the belief that it should only be a male that continues onto university? And if so, how many families? This leads me into the question of;

How have gender stereotypes changed over the years in regards to the difference in gender attendance at university? What I believe to be so beneficial and interesting about this question is due to the countless questions I can delve into it in relation. If there is a change, has this progressed into the workplace? If so, how? If not, why not?

For a majority of the statistics (regarding this change of gender attendance over the generations) I will be doing my own individual research and making my own judgements regarding information that has already been conducted by academics. This is mostly due to their greater access of willing participants on a much greater scale. Surveys will then be completed by a specific number of people from specific generations. Half will these participants will be female, half will be male. Through these surveys I hope to get opinions and answers regarding any social and family pressures over their choice of going to university or not, why they think these pressures existed or didn’t, etc. I will then move on to specific personal interviews (once again, with a specific number of people from specific generations), to get a more detailed understanding. A focus group created with these interviewees will be even more beneficial because the contrast between the difference in attendance at university of the two genders during specific generations will be made even clearer.

Any participation within any of my research methods will be completely voluntary (with the requirement of being eighteen or older) as I intend to be respective of all participants free will and opinions. I will also guarantee that all participants are happy with my research and conclusion that will only be able to be achieved because of their insights.

I am really excited to go into further research regarding my focus question because I believe that the results will showcase how far our society has come in terms of gender equality and the banishment of gender stereotypes. Alongside this, we will also be able to see the progress that still needs to be made.

If anyone is interested in being a part of my research, feel free to drop anything in the comments. A website you think might be relevant, your own experiences, or any feedback you have would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance,

Georgie.