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.

Through this research, I learned about the power of an NGO. SMART Liberia was essential to the success of my work, and I know that I would not have been able to conduct this study without their partnership. Additionally, I learned about the challenges that come with working within a system with which you are not familiar – it was integral to our success that my team and I understand the IRB process at the University of Liberia, the building rental system that allowed us to secure facilities for the evaluation day, as well as the informal understanding among Liberians that everyone is at least an hour late to all commitments. This has been an invaluable experience from which I have gained so much. I was able to produce a pilot study for future researchers of MFA and data on the current state of MFA and its students. Personally, I was able to expand my knowledge of development in developing countries, conducting research, and all the logistics that go into it.

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