One Way Mirrors and Full Circles: Finishing Up Work on the Mentoring Study

After performing analyses on the data, closing computer windows, and shutting the lab door behind me, I’ve packed up and left Williamsburg for the rest of the summer. But, readers, as they say in infomercials, that’s not all!

I need to accomplish a short list of things before heading back to campus and eventually presenting my research at the symposium in September. I have the data, ran the tests, and got my results. I’m going to use this time to look at them critically, seek out those p-values less than .05 (a most exciting discovery in the social sciences), and determine how mentoring helps kids!

My final report will consist of two products. One is a useful, applicable set of results for the mentoring organization. It aims to answer the question, how did the little buddies in the program improve from beginning to end in areas like academic achievement and aspiration, emotional well-being, and interpersonal relationships? It’ll depict results both visually, in the form of charts and tables for easy interpretation, and with my own take on the data based on prior research. I’m looking forward to sharing all of this with the organization! I really hope my results will let them know what areas they’re doing well on, and which they may need to improve upon.

The other aspect of my project, for the symposium, will delve a little deeper and explore how these results vary with the length of the relationship and relationship quality. These are qualities that, from prior research, I predict will have a moderating effect on youth outcomes. Factoring in these variables might help explain the conditions that support effective matches.

With those goals in mind, I’ve reached the final stages of my project. However, my other task before I left Williamsburg was filing the follow up questionnaires we recently received from the mentoring site in Mexico and setting them up to be entered into the computer. I found myself in the lab room labeling files and sorting surveys the same way I did for the American site in the beginning of the summer. It’s a full loop that brought me right back to where I started my summer project. The research process might have finished for my own personal study, but I’m staying on in the fall to help out with this next stage.

As I was filing, I looked up every so often into the lab room’s one-way mirror. I saw myself looking back, two months later, doing the same task I started with, and I thought the situation was a little poetic. In the beginning, I was meeting challenges as they happened and troubleshooting problems. Now, having been beyond that mirror and learned lessons to get to the end of the first study, I’m back in the same position I started, but with the new Mexican sample. When I looked back at myself in the mirror, I couldn’t help but to think about all I’ve gained as a researcher from behind the glass. Now I’m ready approach this new sample more efficiently from seeing the American study from start to finish. Can’t wait to start this circle again!

Phoebe

Comments

  1. Wow, mentoring is such an interesting topic to pursue research on! Mentors can truly make a profound impact on mentees, based on personal experience during my time as a high school writing center tutor. I look forward to viewing your results at the research symposium.

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