Final summary: Argentina and the year ahead

Well, I’m finally back on campus after 6 months in Argentina and several weeks of hurried unpacking, repacking, moving, and organizing all my research materials. Because I had a limited time abroad, I focused all my energy while there on finding sources for my research project about the Madres de Plaza de Mayo. I ended up with thousands of newspaper articles, hundreds of historical documents from police archives, sources from the Madres, politicians, activists and victims, and of course months’ worth of personal experience to contextualize my project.

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Reading dictators’ documents

In my last post, I talked about my frustration with not being able to find media sources from during Argentina’s last dictatorship that talked about the activities of human rights organizers such as the Madres de Plaza de Mayo. The press was ordered by the government not to report on protests and civil disobedience, so there is extremely unfair reporting on and representation of groups such as the Madres de Plaza de Mayo in these public sources.

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Final Summer Blog Post: Natalie Curtis and Beyond

This summer was eye-0pening for me in an array of different ways. Not only did I have the opportunity to do my own independent research, which I’m immensely grateful for, but I also jumped far out of my comfort zone through the process of the research. Using the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Research Center for Cultural Folklife I was able to really narrow in on a more relevant and specific Honors Thesis topic, the study of the impact of female ethnographers/ethnomusicologists on  Native American Healing and Ceremonial Music.

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Summary

If I were to re-do my summer research knowing what I know now, I would make several changes. I believe that, overall, the study I conducted was successful. However, for the future success of this research (if other researchers go back to replicate this work over a period of years), I would make a few suggestions. The biggest aspect of this project that I would change is the way in which we gave the students the surveys and exams. In the future, I would do it over a period of days so that if a student for whatever reason cannot make the single day chosen for evaluation, he or she can still be included in the study. Furthermore, I believe this would be a better use of resources, as it might cut down on transportation costs (if researchers went to the student, they would have to make less trips and would not have to reimburse participants for travel). Another issue I experienced was that even though my group attempted to train the RAs we worked with as thoroughly as possible, it seems as though not all of the instructions translated into practice. I think that although it is a large expense, holding multiple training sessions would be a worthwhile investment so as to avoid as much skewing of results as possible.

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Results

After the evaluation day, there was what seemed like endless data to look over. We had over 75 copies of tests, art projects, and surveys, and some of them had ID numbers that did not match student names, not to mention a few duplicate copies (which could either be due to a student impersonating another student or one student taking an assessment twice – which begs the question of which copy to include in the data set). My partners and I logged in all of the data manually while in Liberia. Once we returned to the U.S., we scanned all of the documents into a password-protected Dropbox folder so as to have secure soft copies of the information. Then, it was time to analyze.  Not only did MFA students score better on the purely academic exam, they also scored higher on the gender section of the survey. The academic exam consisted of three different sections: 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade, and each included math, science, and English questions. We based the questions we included off of past MFA and B. W. Harris questions that we obtained through each school’s administration, making sure to change each one so as to not give MFA or B. W. Harris students an advantage.

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