Research Makes Progress, And The Chance To Learn Something New

Hey everyone,

So far the studies are running great. The flyers were a great idea and have brought a steady stream of participants. Still, gathering 60 participants for three studies with one being exclusive have been really hard. We just got all 60 participants for Dot probe Familiarity 1 and I have begun data analysis. In addition to the studies, I’m also helping Professor Dickter and Professor Kieffaber with their book on how to work EEG software. Specifically I am learning how to operate the EEG software Analyzer; which no one knows how to do in the lab because we use Matlab here at William and Mary. This is helping me learn how to run the software and how to analyze EEG data. Hope everyone is having a great week!

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Research is harwd

Before setting out this summer, I had big goals.  I wanted to put together a solid enough project that I could have something of publishable quality by the time I got home.  However, in the world of academia, one must craft a research design without major holes.  For me this has been my major battle.  It’s not that I haven’t put my head to the task- oh, I have! But putting together something solid without consistent guidance and advice from someone with experience has proven to be too tough for me.  Over the past 6 weeks, I have interviewed over 60 NGO directors, teachers, principals, and gardeners. I have learned immensely about the role of school gardens in the food security problem in Cape Town.  However, where I have failed is putting this all together for an academically sound project.  Learning about school gardens has taken me all over the place- to a fault.  What I have desperately needed is someone who knows about this situation in Cape Town to advise me through my project, telling me where I should focus and what tangents to ignore.  While I am very happy that I have learned greatly about this topic, I am sad to say I have circled it, like a vulture, yet, have lacked the ability to go in for the kill.  I now have so much data yet no idea how to use.  With only 4 weeks left here, I no longer have the time (or motivation) to restart my project from the drawing board.  But, I am not down or pessimistic at all.  In fact, I now have a really great opportunity.  This past spring I was nominated to be in W&M’s new journalism course where students work with a Pulitzer journalist to publish a story on an underdeveloped issue.  Bingo!  What I need is not to change my topic, but rather change my perspective.  Instead of trying to approach school gardens from an academic researcher perspective, I will transform myself into Max The Journalist. Or maybe even Max The Journalist The Great— or maybe not.  As a previous research vulture, I have gotten a very clear picture on what’s going on and who are the actors.  This places me in a good position to start trying to tell the story of school gardens in Cape Town.  And with this new project, I have an advisor who will hold my hand and coach me through this one! Yes!