Monday, March 28, 2011

xtranormal

On a side note... I needed a moment of fun and had a chance to experiment with xtranormal


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Teen Behavior

Recently, the library where I work has been overrun with teens... they have literally taken over. The library sits close to a high school and a middle school... the community center is further away and requires teens to sign in... so they come to what is close - the library. While I am all for them coming in to hang out... they haven't shown respect for the building or the people... and very little homework is actually done.

Human Resources has come in and worked with the staff members to brainstorm and implement several methods of monitoring the library... unfortunately, it is still difficult to do when those teens refuse to show respect. Granted, there are many that are nice... it is those few that create a tense situation. It would be interesting to see how the community plays a factor into these types of situations and what other libraries in a similar situation have done. Learning about the community would give a better sense of just who the patrons are and what can be done better to meet their needs. I've been able to do similar research about a library in my community in my Issues in Public Libraries class and in addition to that type of study, it would be nice to get help from someone who actually studies behavior.

I know these teens are great people... it is just difficult to see that when they respond so abruptly to any form of discipline by library staff, even as light as a comment about the noise level.
I'd love to be able to create a survey to see what they'd like... or to see what they think the library is supposed to be. I know that most now know the rules of conduct after being reminded during times that the teen area gets loud, but it would be better if they chose to follow the rules...
I wonder if taking some additional psychology classes or something would help with dealing with those types of behaviors.

...I seem to be brimming with research ideas these days...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Expanding a Reasearch Idea

As the research process goes through various stages, so does the initial idea, topic or question asked. As new information comes to light, it gives opportunities to tweak the idea/question as needed.

Originally, my broad topic was about youth and reading and that made me delve into the reading habits of youth. As I was able to read the research that I collected I began to formulate an idea in my mind about how I wanted to go about creating an idea for further research.

What immediately came to mind was the way that the idea of reading was being defined... mostly by the adults... and the message that is passed on to youth about what is and isn't considered reading. I believe that the definition of reading is changing as more and more teens are spending their time online. In the preliminary research that I read, several surveys were showing a particular trend...  the teens that were interviewed for the surveys said they didn't have time to "read" - well... that made me want to ask some questions... What about all those magazines and online materials they're reading? How did that factor into their responses? How would those responses change if they knew that they could consider that as reading? Would their answers change if adults didn't frown upon the other kind of reading that isn't book-reading? I know there are many worthy blogs, author pages, e-zines and other online sources that can spawn further curiosity on a topic. What if teachers encouraged their students to look online, and then find a topic they like and then read some books about it?

So... I plan to do more research on The Changing Definition of Reading Amongst Youth ... and who knows, I may tweak my original question/idea at some point as I read more...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Getting Past the Gates

A major part of research is getting permission from the subjects… this becomes even more difficult when the subjects are minors. Standing in the way of unrestricted access to research data are gatekeepers – when dealing with youth, gatekeepers usually present themselves in the form of adults responsible for those children. I don't think I ever truly realized that there are so many hurdles to jump when trying to permission to talk to a group of kids. Building upon my last post, I bring up the role that ethics play – as a researcher you want to make sure that you're protecting those you are studying as well as yourself. If you make sure you go through the proper channels and have all the necessary paperwork there should be no reason that you'd get in trouble with the gatekeepers involved… unless something unsettling happens during the research itself and in that case, keeping those same gatekeepers in the loop should save your tail.

Collecting research is tough on its own, and when you need to jump through hoops in order to have the opportunity to meet with potential sources of information a lot of stress is added to the shoulders of the researcher. This is why I think that being open is key, with the exception of confidentiality of responses, unless there's a pressing need with someone's safety.

In the type of research that I would like to do, I think that I will mostly be dealing with getting permission from library officials as well as the parents or guardians of the individuals who are minors. The research question that I'd like answered is one about how teen reading habits are impacted by adults' perception/definition of reading. More and more teens are reading magazines, newspapers, and online blogs and sites. These should still be considered reading. I think I would have to approach teens, their parents, and other adults that influence reading choices. I know I'd have to approach the library and its officials, local schools and their officials, teachers, parents/guardians and students themselves. I think that I would need to also present myself in a way that makes the teens see me as a person who understands that reading can come in many forms so that they see me as on their side, like Madeline Leonard states in her essay in the book Representing Youth.



References:

Leonard, M. (2007) With a capital "G": Gatekeepers and gatekeeping in research with children. In Best, A. L. (Ed.), Representing Youth: Methodological Issues in Critical Youth Studies. (pp. 133-156). New York: New York University Press.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Reponsible Data Collection

I've often wondered what type of person you have to be to be considered a researcher who is collecting data. I know it isn't as simple as going out and asking a bunch of questions in a survey. I think taking a research methods class has made me think about what it would be like to actually go out and collect, compile, analyze and present data in order to try to prove a point. I asked myself if I could ever see myself doing it… at this moment, I am unsure… simply because there is an issue with the amount of free time I have… so maybe one day…

This brings me to one of the assignments that we were asked to complete for class… taking the time to go through the training at the National Institute of Health web site that covers Human Research Participants. The goal of NIH is to "prepare investigators involved in the design and/or conduct of research involving human subjects to understand their obligations to protect the rights and welfare of subjects in research. The course material presents basic concepts, principles, and issues related to the protection of research participants."

I liked looking into the ways that researchers can prepare themselves to gather data from participants in a fair way to all. Much of the training has to do with ethics. Three principles were identified as necessary to conduct ethical research with humans:  

1. Respect for persons – Individuals should be treated as autonomous agents and Persons with diminished autonomy are entitled to additional protections

2. Beneficence – Do no harm and Maximize possible benefits and minimize possible harms

3. Justice – Justice requires that individuals and groups be treated fairly and equitably in terms of bearing the burdens and receiving the benefits of research

These guidelines give a clearer picture to those preparing to gather research by showing researchers how to conduct themselves in order to protect themselves, their research and their subjects.

I think that after completing the training and earning my certificate, I feel more comfortable with understanding yet another part of the researcher's role in gathering data. I would like to think that making sure research is done ethically should be on everyone's thoughts just to cover all the bases, but really, until I went to the NIH site, I hadn't really given a thought to the ethical responsibilities of a researcher. I mostly thought about making sure that the questions asked aren't biased and that a fair representation of the population is gathered in the sample. I think it is good that these guidelines have been created because it really makes you prepare yourself for doing research with human subjects. It makes you more aware of how to interact with subjects beyond the normal courtesies. I hope to one day be able to actually do some actual research with participants and go back to the site for a refresher course.

References:

National Institute of Health. (2011). Protecting Human Research Participants. Retrieved from http://phrp.nihtraining.com