This Calendar is only for Fast Track Students
|1||Study CBPAR (Community Based Participatory Action Research)|
|2||2.1: Identify and develop your topic |
Selecting a topic can be the most challenging part of a research assignment. Since this is the very first step in writing a paper, it is vital that it be done correctly. Here are some tips for selecting a topic: Select a topic within the parameters set by the assignment. Many times your instructor will give you clear guidelines as to what you can and cannot write about. Failure to work within these guidelines may result in your proposed paper being deemed unacceptable by your instructor. Select a topic of personal interest to you and learn more about it. The research for and writing of a paper will be more enjoyable if you are writing about something that you find interesting. Select a topic for which you can find a manageable amount of information. Do a preliminary search of information sources to determine whether existing sources will meet your needs. If you find too much information, you may need to narrow your topic; if you find too little, you may need to broaden your topic. Be original. Your instructor reads hundreds of research papers every year, and many of them are on the same topics (topics in the news at the time, controversial issues, subjects for which there is ample and easily accessed information). Stand out from your classmates by selecting an interesting and off-the-beaten-path topic. Still can’t come up with a topic to write about? See your instructor for advice. Once you have identified your topic, it may help to state it as a question. For example, if you are interested in finding out about the epidemic of obesity in the American population, you might pose the question “What are the causes of obesity in your Country?” By posing your subject as a question you can more easily identify the main concepts or keywords to be used in your research.
|3||3.1: Identify the Problem |
The first step in the process is to identify a problem or develop a research question. The research problem may be something the agency identifies as a problem, some knowledge or information that is needed by the agency, or the desire to identify a recreation trend nationally. In the example in table 2.4, the problem that the agency has identified is childhood obesity, which is a local problem and concern within the community. This serves as the focus of the study.
3. 2: Review the Literature
that the problem has been identified, the researcher must learn more about the topic under investigation. To do this, the researcher must review the literature related to the research problem. This step provides foundational knowledge about the problem area. The review of literature also educates the researcher about what studies have been conducted in the past, how these studies were conducted, and the conclusions in the problem area. In the obesity study, the review of literature enables the programmer to discover horrifying statistics related to the long-term effects of childhood obesity in terms of health issues, death rates, and projected medical costs. In addition, the programmer finds several articles and information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that describe the benefits of walking 10,000 steps a day. The information discovered during this step helps the programmer fully understand the magnitude of the problem, recognize the future consequences of obesity, and identify a strategy to combat obesity (i.e., walking).
3.3: Clarify the Problem
Many times the initial problem identified in the first step of the process is too large or broad in scope. In step 3 of the process, the researcher clarifies the problem and narrows the scope of the study. This can only be done after the literature has been reviewed. The knowledge gained through the review of literature guides the researcher in clarifying and narrowing the research project. In the example, the programmer has identified childhood obesity as the problem and the purpose of the study. This topic is very broad and could be studied based on genetics, family environment, diet, exercise, self-confidence, leisure activities, or health issues. All of these areas cannot be investigated in a single study; therefore, the problem and purpose of the study must be more clearly defined. The programmer has decided that the purpose of the study is to determine if walking 10,000 steps a day for three days a week will improve the individual’s health. This purpose is more narrowly focused and researchable than the original problem.
3.4: Clearly Define Terms and Concepts
Terms and concepts are words or phrases used in the purpose statement of the study or the description of the study. These items need to be specifically defined as they apply to the study. Terms or concepts often have different definitions depending on who is reading the study. To minimize confusion about what the terms and phrases mean, the researcher must specifically define them for the study. In the obesity study, the concept of “individual’s health” can be defined in hundreds of ways, such as physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual health. For this study, the individual’s health is defined as physical health. The concept of physical health may also be defined and measured in many ways. In this case, the programmer decides to more narrowly define “individual health” to refer to the areas of weight, percentage of body fat, and cholesterol. By defining the terms or concepts more narrowly, the scope of the study is more manageable for the programmer, making it easier to collect the necessary data for the study. This also makes the concepts more understandable to the reader.
3.5: Define the Population
Research projects can focus on a specific group of people, facilities, park development, employee evaluations, programs, financial status, marketing efforts, or the integration of technology into the operations. For example, if a researcher wants to examine a specific group of people in the community, the study could examine a specific age group, males or females, people living in a specific geographic area, or a specific ethnic group. Literally thousands of options are available to the researcher to specifically identify the group to study. The research problem and the purpose of the study assist the researcher in identifying the group to involve in the study. In research terms, the group to involve in the study is always called the population. Defining the population assists the researcher in several ways. First, it narrows the scope of the study from a very large population to one that is manageable. Second, the population identifies the group that the researcher’s efforts will be focused on within the study. This helps ensure that the researcher stays on the right path during the study. Finally, by defining the population, the researcher identifies the group that the results will apply to at the conclusion of the study. In the example in table 2.4, the programmer has identified the population of the study as children ages 10 to 12 years. This narrower population makes the study more manageable in terms of time and resources.
3. 6: Develop the Instrumentation Plan
The plan for the study is referred to as the instrumentation plan. The instrumentation plan serves as the road map for the entire study, specifying who will participate in the study; how, when, and where data will be collected; and the content of the program. This plan is composed of numerous decisions and considerations that are addressed in chapter 8 of this text. In the obesity study, the researcher has decided to have the children participate in a walking program for six months. The group of participants is called the sample, which is a smaller group selected from the population specified for the study. The study cannot possibly include every 10- to 12-year-old child in the community, so a smaller group is used to represent the population. The researcher develops the plan for the walking program, indicating what data will be collected, when and how the data will be collected, who will collect the data, and how the data will be analyzed. The instrumentation plan specifies all the steps that must be completed for the study. This ensures that the programmer has carefully thought through all these decisions and that she provides a step-by-step plan to be followed in the study.
4.1: Write your paper/Proposal
Begin by organizing the information you have collected. The next step is the rough draft, wherein you get your ideas on paper in an unfinished fashion. This step will help you organize your ideas and determine the form your final paper will take. After this, you will revise the draft as many times as you think necessary to create a final product to turn in to your instructor.
4.2: Cite your sources properly
Give credit where credit is due; cite your sources. Citing or documenting the sources used in your research serves two purposes: it gives proper credit to the authors of the materials used, and it allows those who are reading your work to duplicate your research and locate the sources that you have listed as references. The MLA and the APA Styles are two popular citation formats. Failure to cite your sources properly is plagiarism. Plagiarism is avoidable!
The final step in the process is to proofread the paper you have created. Read through the text and check for any errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Make sure the sources you used are cited properly. Make sure the message that you want to get across to the reader has been thoroughly stated.
4.4: Proposal Presentation
In some classes, writing the research paper is only part of what is required in regards to presenting your work. Your professor may also require you to also give an oral presentation about your study. Here are some things to think about before you are scheduled to give a presentation.
4.4.1: What should I say?
If your professor hasn’t explicitly stated what the content of your presentation should focus on, think about what you want to achieve and what you consider to be the most important things that members of the audience should know about your study. Think about the following: Do I want to inform my audience, inspire them to think about my research, or convince them of a particular point of view? These questions will help frame how to approach your presentation topic.
4.4.2: Oral communication is different from written communication
Your audience has just one chance to hear your talk; they can’t “re-read” your words if they get confused. Focus on being clear, particularly if the audience can’t ask questions during the talk. There are two well-known ways to communicate your points effectively. The first is the K.I.S.S. method [Keep It Simple Stupid]. Focus your presentation on getting two to three key points across. The second approach is to repeat key insights: tell them what you’re going to tell them [forecast], tell them [explain], and then tell them what you just told them [summarize].
4.4.3: Think about your audience
Yes, you want to demonstrate to your professor that you have conducted a good study. But professors often ask students to give an oral presentation to practice the art of communicating and to learn to speak clearly and audibly about yourself and your research. Questions to think about include: What background knowledge do they have about my topic? Does the audience have any particular interests? How am I going to involve them in my presentation?
4.4.4: Create effective notes
If you don’t have notes to refer to as you speak, you run the risk of forgetting something important. Also, having no notes increases the chance you’ll lose your train of thought and begin relying on reading from the presentation slides. Think about the best ways to create notes that can be easily referred to as you speak. This is important! Nothing is more distracting to an audience than the speaker fumbling around with notes as they try to speak. It gives the impression of being disorganized and unprepared.
NOTE: A good strategy is to have a page of notes for each slide so that the act of referring to a new page helps remind you to move to the next slide. This also creates a natural pause that allows your audience to contemplate what you just presented.
Strategies for creating effective notes for yourself include the following:
Choose a large, readable font [at least 18 point in Ariel]; avoid using fancy text fonts or cursive text.Use bold text, underlining, or different-colored text to highlight elements of your speech that you want to emphasize. Don’t overdo it, though. Only highlight the most important elements of your presentation.Leave adequate space on your notes to jot down additional thoughts or observations before and during your presentation. This is also helpful when writing down your thoughts in response to a question or to remember a multi-part question [remember to have a pen with you when you give your presentation].Place a cue in the text of your notes to indicate when to move to the next slide, to click on a link, or to take some other action, such as, linking to a video. If appropriate, include a cue in your notes if there is a point during your presentation when you want the audience to refer to a handout.Spell out challenging words phonetically and practice saying them ahead of time. This is particularly important for accurately pronouncing people’s names, technical or scientific terminology, words in a foreign language, or any unfamiliar words.
4.5: Organizing the Content
Begin by thinking about what you want to achieve and how are you going to involve your audience in the presentation. Then…
Brainstorm your topic and write a rough outline. Don’t get carried away—remember you have a limited amount of time for your presentation.
Organize your material and draft what you want to say [see below].
Summarize your draft into key points to write on your presentation slides and/or note cards and/or handout.
Prepare your visual aids.
Rehearse your presentation and practice getting the presentation completed within the time limit given by your professor. Ask a friend to listen and time you.
4.6 General Outline
4.6.1. Introduction [may be written last]
Capture your listeners’ attention. Begin with a question, an amusing story, a provocative statement, or anything that will engage your audience and make them think.
State your purpose. For example, “I’m going to talk about…”; “This morning I want to explain….”
Present an outline of your talk. For example, “I will concentrate on the following points: First of all…Then…This will lead to…And finally…”
4.6.2: The Body
Present your main points one by one in a logical order.
Pause at the end of each point. Give people time to take notes, or time to think about what you are saying.
Make it clear when you move to another point. For example, “The next point is that…”; “Of course, we must not forget that…”; “However, it’s important to realize that….”
Use clear examples to illustrate your points and/or key findings.If appropriate, consider using visual aids to make your presentation more interesting [e.g., a map, chart, picture, link to a video, etc.].
4.6.3: The Conclusion
Leave your audience with a clear summary of everything that you have covered.Summarize the main points again. For example, use phrases like: “So, in conclusion…”; “To recap the main issues…,” “In summary, it is important to realize….”
Restate the purpose of your talk, and say that you have achieved your aim: “My intention was …, and it should now be clear that….”
Don’t let the talk just fizzle out. Make it obvious that you have reached the end of the presentation.
Thank the audience, and invite questions: “Thank you. Are there any questions?”
NOTE: When asking your audience if anyone has any questions, give people time to contemplate what you have said and to formulate a question. It may seem like an awkward pause to wait ten seconds or so for someone to raise their hand, but it’s frustrating to have a question come to mind but be cutoff because the presenter rushed to end the talk. ANOTHER NOTE: If your last slide includes any contact information or other important information, leave it up long enough to ensure audience members have time to write the information down. Nothing is more frustrating to an audience member than wanting to jot something down, but the presenter closes the slides immediately after finishing.
4.7: Delivering Your Presentation
When delivering your presentation, keep in mind the following points to help you remain focused and ensure that everything goes as planned.
4.8: Pay attention to language! Keep it simple.
The aim is to communicate, not to show off your vocabulary. Using complex words or phrases increases the chance of stumbling over a word and losing your train of thought.
Emphasize the key points. Make sure people realize which the key points of your study are. Repeat them using different phrasing to help the audience remember them.
Check the pronunciation of difficult, unusual, or foreign words beforehand. Keep it simple, but if you have to use unfamiliar words, write them out phonetically in your notes and practice saying them. This is particularly important when pronouncing proper names. Give the definition of words that are unusual or are being used in a particular context [e.g., “By using the term affective response, I am referring to…”].
4.8.1: Use your voice to communicate clearly
Speak loudly enough for everyone in the room to hear you. Projecting your voice may feel uncomfortably loud at first, but if people can’t hear you, they won’t try to listen. However, moderate your voice if you are talking in front of a microphone.
Speak slowly and clearly. Don’t rush! Speaking fast makes it harder for people to understand you and signals being nervous.
Avoid the use of “fillers.” Linguists refer to utterances such as um, ah, you know, and like as fillers. They occur most often during transitions from one idea to another and, if expressed too much, are distracting to an audience. The better you know your presentation, the better you can control these verbal tics.
Vary your voice quality. If you always use the same volume and pitch [for example, all loud, or all soft, or in a monotone] during your presentation, your audience will stop listening. Use a higher pitch and volume in your voice when you begin a new point or when emphasizing the transition to a new point.
Speakers with accents need to slow down [so do most others]. Non-native speakers often speak English faster than we slow-mouthed native speakers, usually because most non-English languages flow more quickly than English. Slowing down helps the audience to comprehend what you are saying.
Slow down for key points. These are also moments in your presentation to consider using body language, such as hand gestures or leaving the podium to point to a slide, to help emphasize key points.
Use pauses. Don’t be afraid of short periods of silence. They give you a chance to gather your thoughts, and your audience an opportunity to think about what you’ve just said.
4.8.2: Use your body language to communicate too!
Stand straight and comfortably. Do not slouch or shuffle about. If you appear bored or uninterested in what your talking about, the audience will emulate this as well. Wear something comfortable. This is not the time to wear an itchy wool sweater or new high heel shoes for the first time.
Hold your head up. Look around and make eye contact with people in the audience [or at least pretend to]. Do not just look at your professor or your notes the whole time! Looking up at your your audience brings them into the conversation. If you don’t include the audience, they won’t listen to you.When you are talking to your friends, you naturally
use your hands, your facial expression, and your body to add to your communication. Do it in your presentation as well. It will make things far more interesting for the audience.
Don’t turn your back on the audience and don’t fidget! Neither moving around nor standing still is wrong. Practice either to make yourself comfortable. Even when pointing to a slide, don’t turn your back; stand at the side and turn your head towards the audience as you speak.
Keep your hands out of your pocket. This is a natural habit when speaking. One hand in your pocket gives the impression of being relaxed, but both hands in pockets looks too casual and should be avoided.
4.8.3: Interact with the audience
Be aware of how your audience is reacting to your presentation. Are they interested or bored? If they look confused, stop and ask them [e.g., “Is anything I’ve covered so far unclear?”]. Stop and explain a point again if needed.
Check after highlighting key points to ask if the audience is still with you. “Does that make sense?”; “Is that clear?” Don’t do this often during the presentation but, if the audience looks disengaged, interrupting your talk to ask a quick question can re-focus their attention even if no one answers.
Do not apologize for anything. If you believe something will be hard to read or understand, don’t use it. If you apologize for feeling awkward and nervous, you’ll only succeed in drawing attention to the fact you are feeling awkward and nervous and your audience will begin looking for this, rather than focusing on what you are saying.
Be open to questions. If someone asks a question in the middle of your talk, answer it. If it disrupts your train of thought momentarily, that’s ok because your audience will understand. Questions show that the audience is listening with interest and, therefore, should not be regarded as an attack on you, but as a collaborative search for deeper understanding. However, don’t engage in an extended conversation with an audience member or the rest of the audience will begin to feel left out. If an audience member persists, kindly tell them that the issue can be addressed after you’ve completed the rest of your presentation and note to them that their issue may be addressed later in your presentation [it may not be, but at least saying so allows you to move on].
Be ready to get the discussion going after your presentation. Professors often want a brief discussion to take place after a presentation. Just in case nobody has anything to say or no one asks any questions, be prepared to ask your audience some provocative questions or bring up key issues for discussion.
4.9.1: Your First Words are Your Most Important!
Your introduction should begin with something that grabs the attention of your audience, such as, an interesting statistic, a brief narrative or story, or a bold assertion, and then clearly tell the audience in a well-crafted sentence what you plan to accomplish in your presentation. Your introductory statement should be constructed so as to invite the audience to pay close attention to your message and to give the audience a clear sense of the direction in which you are about to take them.
4.9.2: Talk to Your Audience, Don’t Read to Them!
A presentation is not the same as an essay. If you read your presentation as if it were an essay, your audience will probably understand very little about what you say and will lose concentration quickly. Use notes, cue cards, or overheads as prompts that emphasis key points, and speak to your audience. Include everyone by looking at them and maintaining regular eye-contact [but don’t stare or glare at people]. Limit reading text to quotes or to specific points you want to emphasize.
5.1: Collect Data
Once the instrumentation plan is completed, the actual study begins with the collection of data. The collection of data is a critical step in providing the information needed to answer the research question. Every study includes the collection of some type of data—whether it is from the literature or from subjects—to answer the research question. Data can be collected in the form of words on a survey, with a questionnaire, through observations, or from the literature. In the obesity study, the programmers will be collecting data on the defined variables: weight, percentage of body fat, cholesterol levels, and the number of days the person walked a total of 10,000 steps during the class. The researcher collects these data at the first session and at the last session of the program. These two sets of data are necessary to determine the effect of the walking program on weight, body fat, and cholesterol level. Once the data are collected on the variables, the researcher is ready to move to the final step of the process, which is the data analysis.
5.2: Analyze the Data
All the time, effort, and resources dedicated to steps 1 through 7 of the research process culminate in this final step. The researcher finally has data to analyze so that the research question can be answered. In the instrumentation plan, the researcher specified how the data will be analyzed. The researcher now analyzes the data according to the plan. The results of this analysis are then reviewed and summarized in a manner directly related to the research questions. In the obesity study, the researcher compares the measurements of weight, percentage of body fat, and cholesterol that were taken at the first meeting of the subjects to the measurements of the same variables at the final program session. These two sets of data will be analyzed to determine if there was a difference between the first measurement and the second measurement for each individual in the program. Then, the data will be analyzed to determine if the differences are statistically significant. If the differences are statistically significant, the study validates the theory that was the focus of the study. The results of the study also provide valuable information about one strategy to combat childhood obesity in the community.
|6||6.1: Presentation of your Final Research Project|