EDUS 660#7: Survey Says…

Food for Thought-Survey

Pay attention to the news on TV, radio, news magazines and/or newspapers and online.  What types of surveys or polls made the news this past week?  What do you know about the sample used in these surveys or polls (e.g., sample size, sampling frame, target population, etc)?  What is your opinion of the sample that was used? 

June is the month for high school graduations in the US.  While my graduation was many (cough) years ago, a high school English teacher made one key point that I have never forgotten.  She said that no one would care what I thought until I attended graduate school. This remark is a rather sad and sobering thought to consider as I embarked upon my college career. Interestingly enough, an organization did exist during that time frame that wished to know what seniors thought, how they felt and what was of importance to them.

monitoring the futureMonitoring the Future, a national study of American youth seeks to understand a population in secondary and college settings as well as those considered young adults.  Since its inception in 1975 surveying 8th-grade students, it has grown to encompass those at the end of high school as well as to  conduct follow-up surveys with respondents who participated in previous studies. The end of high school represents an important milestone in development for students. The research team selected this age as it is a logical place in which to consider how the influence of public education along with living in a parental setting may affect the attitudes and behaviors of students.

Content Areas and Questionnaire Design-A significant portion of the survey focuses on substance use. Respondents do not view the questionnaire, according to the report, as being a “drug use study.”  Different questionnaires are distributed to the participants.  The sequence is ordered which produces subsamples that are virtually identical.  The core or common variables for each of the six forms comprises one-third of the questionnaire. Researchers are able to link the core set of measures with the demographic measures statistically to all of the other measures.  Representativeness and Validity-The samples for this study should represent high school students in the 48 coterminous states.  Those students who drop out before the end of the senior year are missing from the cohort. The research team identified four (4) ways in which the survey data may not be fully accurate.  Some schools refused to participate. 100 % participation was not fully achieved of students sampled which may cause bias.  The validity of the survey could be questioned if participants made conscious and unconscious distortions when responding to a question. The accuracy of estimates could possibly mean that there are limitations in sample size and or design.  When schools refused to participate, a replacement school was located. Replacement schools were selected to match geographic area, urbanicity etc. This is a two-year study with two data collections. (2012:23)

Measurement-attitudes regarding those that one would expect to find in a survey of high school seniors: drug use, alcohol consumption, cigarette usage are surveyed.There are twenty different categories in all. Included within the twenty is “Happiness!”

Closed-ended questions varied in format. For example,

Imagine being asked to consider how happy you are as a senior?  Is the rest of the world as interested or consummed by the notion of happiness?
Imagine being asked to consider how happy you are as a senior? Is the rest of the world as interested or consumed by the notion of happiness?

Happiness: Taking all things together, how would you say things are these days-would you say you’re very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy these days? (Bachman, Johnston, and O’Malley, 2012:

3. Very happy  2.  Pretty happy  1.  Not too happy

Babbie suggests that survey questions be clear for the respondent (2013: 250). The question written above is one that I would expect a high school respondent able and willing to answer. The verbiage reflects the manner in which students would speak to each other.

Finding purpose and meaning in my life

1.  Not important  2.  Somewhat important  3.  Quite important  4.  Extremely important.

This is an example of a question that should be relevant to a student concluding high school.  The results of this type of question are useful for social scientists when contemplating the values of future generations (Babbie 2013:252).

Contingency Questions provided written suggestions.  For example,

Have you ever smoked cigarettes?    1.  Never-GO TO Q B006.

Procedures for Protecting Confidentiality: The theme of confidentiality and voluntary participation is described to participants in a descriptive flyer. At the start of the questionnaire, the administrator reinforces this component as many of the questions, particularly in the section concerning drug use are very personal. Teachers are discouraged from walking around the classroom while the survey is being completed. Participants are told to leave blanks where there may be a question that is objectionable for any reason. Names and addresses or respondents, while coded, are not able to be traced to the participant.  Of interest is the fact that the research team indicates where the data is stored (University of Michigan) and that a summary of the findings is mailed to the participants.  Wow!  I’ve participated in numerous studies and have yet to receive a summary of the findings even after requesting one.  Some students receive follow-up questionnaires in the future.

While the study that I located doesn’t fully fit the suggestion for this week’s food for thought, I did find it extremely useful to me. My task is to complete the Sampling Worksheet for my research group’s project. One component of our sampling is to collect data from preteen students.  The Monitoring the Future Survey provides several formats to consider when constructing the questionnaire for Group 13’s research project. In my opinion, the instance to survey high school students certainly provides social scientists with data that has a far-reaching impact for society.

Something to Chew on-

  • As a high school senior, how candid would you be when responding to questions about drug and alcohol usage?
  • This questionnaire is administered during school hours.  If given the chance to complete this survey in private, would your responses be different than those completed during the school day?
  • How influential were your friends at this time in determining your beliefs and attitudes?

Sources:

Babbie, E. (2015). The practice of social research. Cengage Learning.

 Monitoring the Future Publications

Johnston, L. D., Bachman, J. G., O’Malley, P. M., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2012). Monitoring the Future: A Continuing Study of American Youth (12th-Grade Survey), ICPSR34409-v2. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 11-20.

EDUS: 660 #6 Trust–sucking gravel for the organization

I imagine that the ability to master this maneuver requires trust and flexibility!
I imagine that the ability to master this maneuver requires trust and flexibility!

This week’s “Food for Thought”

What does trust mean to you? Explain your concept of trust and then try to operationalize it in some way that would allow it to be measured. What types of questions might you ask?

“Being thrown under the bus” is a phrase voiced by employees who seem to be disgruntled.  Consider those individuals who were former employees of the Enron corporation. Not only did they lose their jobs, but their financial investments as well.  Grammarist contends that the idiom, “Being thrown under the bus” is widely overused by the media.  I hear it expressed frequently by individuals who either find their trust to be broken or who are hurt deeply by an organization that they have trusted. To those individuals who placed their faith and trust in this corporation, the emotions experienced when the corporation and their investments collapsed may have felt an overwhelming sense of betrayal.

David Williams takes a light-hearted view of what happens when one’s trust in a coworker or organization dissolves. His article “How to Survive Getting Thrown

Under the Bus at Work” is full of analogies.  The reader to led to believe that simply shrugging off such situations is the  responsibility of the individual who has been hurt.  One of his lines, “…sucking gravel for the organization” enraged me.   Individuals who have placed an extraordinary amount of trust in an organization suffer the disheartening blow of being betrayed. Now they are being admonished in a national business periodical to shoulder the responsibility for being an effective member of the organization themselves.

Babbie reminds me that social scientists prefer to consider one of the pillars of research to be measurement (124). When considering the idea of trust for observation, or measurement, my observations must be deliberate and careful.  Observations of trust need to emanate from the real world.

So what causes an individual to find themselves in such a situation? Does it happen overnight or does the corroding of trust happen over a period of time?  What happens when one’s trust in an organization is betrayed?

I can joke about this now, however, I've been thrown under the bus several times.
I can joke about this now, however, I’ve been thrown under the bus several times.

A logical progression for measurement includes four components, Conceptualization, Nominal definition, operational definition and measurement in the real world.

So moving the bus forward:

Conceptualization:  What does trust mean? Webster’s Dictionary defines trust as the belief that someone or something is reliable good, honest, effective.(Webster.com/dictionary/trust).

Nominal Definition: For my study, I would find Webster’s definition suitable for individual trust.  When considering trust within an organization, I would state that the “something” was a specific organization. The organization would define what trust means in a specific setting.

Operational Definition: I would measure individual levels of trust by posing survey questions that would ask create a trust inventory using a Likert Scale  for questions such as the following;

Trust of Individuals-

  • The individual(s) in my department are competent in the necessary skills for his or her job.
  • My supervisor makes decisions about his or her job that are thoughtful.
  • My supervisor makes decisions that impact those in the department with thought and consideration.
  • The individual(s) in my charge will follow through on assignments.
  • I can rely on what my coworkers tell me as factual.

Trust in an Organization-

  • I feel confident that this organization will treat me with respect.
  • The supervisor and co-workers in my department trust each other.
  • I can depend on the management of this organization to make solid business decisions.

Measurements in the Real World-

In an interview setting, I would ask individuals an established set of questions about their experiences with individuals in an organization and the organization itself.

Kramer and Tyler (1996:303) add an additional component to the layers of trust between individuals.  Taking advantage of one’s coworkers, even when the opportunity is available, can constitute a breach of trust. Trust is socially embedded, subjective and optimistic.  The health and well-being of an organization is found in the level of trust between and among its individual workers.

Since the concept of “Ethics” is still fresh on our minds-

Trust Building Cartoon

Something to chew on-

If you have a moment, read the article from the Forbes Magazine.  Which operations would you focus on if considering a research project about trust and organizations?  What is the level of trust like in your place of employment?  Does the HR department provide instruction that helps individuals to understand the organization’s stance on trust?  Is trust understood in the way in which Kramer and Tyler define it? How does trust occur between individuals in your organization?

 References

Babbie, E. (2015). The practice of social research. Cengage Learning.

Cummings, L. L., & Bromiley, P. (1996). The organizational trust inventory (OTI). Trust in organizations: Frontiers of theory and research, 302, 330.

Kramer, R. M., & Tyler, T. R. (Eds.). (1995). Trust in organizations: Frontiers of theory and research. Sage Publications.

EDUS 660 #5: The Power of Transformational Leaders

Leadership that Transforms
 Leadership that Transforms

Food for Thought-Search online journals to find a research project involving a panel study. Describe the nature of the study design and its primary findings. Include a link to the article.

Transformation is such a powerful word.  When joined with leadership the idea of empowerment and change surface as a reminder of the past semester studying organizational change and change strategies.  The longitudinal panel study that I considered for this week’s “Food for Thought” is Toward Understanding the direct and Indirect Effects of Transformation Leadership on Well-being: A Longitudinal Study. (The full text is located through the VCU library.)

Background:  The researchers are associated with Umea University and Umea Social Services, Sweeden. Their interest in pursuing this line of study stems from the absences of research in the possible effects that transformation leadership may have on the well-being of employees, primarily in the field of social services. While most studies, in their experience, employed cross-sectional designs, little work surrounds long-term transformation. Researchers contend that studies of leadership in the field of social service is a national dilemma.  The problems of burnout and stress are well documented in the Swedish social service field.

Transformation Cartoon

Purpose for the research-The team chose to further the understanding of the possible effects of transformation leadership on the well-being of employees over time. The researchers suggest that “Climate for innovation” has proven to influence well-being, framing  the conceptualization for this study. The researchers use the describe innovation as an intentional process. This process engages the application of ideas, and products.  Procedures that are unique are of interest to them when designed to yield favorable outcomes. They suggest that the perception of “climate,” in relation to organizational literature, is receiving considerable attention. It is used to predict both individual and organizational outcome variables.

Understanding Transformation Leaders-Emotional contagion suggests that transformation leaders who experience optimism, happiness and enthusiasm throughout the day are better able to influence group performance and affect. The importance of collective action may occur through idealized influence.  Leaders who replace feelings of isolation are able to transform employee well-being.  When lowering the levels of burnout and reducing stress, affective well-being is increased.

The Present Study-Researchers decided to conduct the research over a 12 month period of time.  Two hypothesis were formulated:

Hypothesis 1: TL is positively associated with affective well-being, both cross-sectionally and 1 year later.

Hypothesis 2:  the positive relationship between TL and affective well-being is mediated by perceptions of an innovative      climate, both cross-sectionally and 1 year later.

Method: Participants and Procedure-This research project engaged a longitudinal panel design. The sample was comprised of 2,700 social service employees from a large Swedish municipality. Questionnaires were distributed on two occasions.

Time I:

  • 342 employees who were randomly selected from staff records.
  • 158 individuals participated.
  • Questionnaires were mailed to the participants.
  • 79% female/11.5 years avg. employment/51% university degree/43.2 years avg.age
  • care assistants, social workers, nurses
  • Representative in comparison to population of organization

Time II:

  • Panel Mortality-22 respondents
  • 101 of 136 remaining returned 2nd questionnaire
  • 745 response rate
  • 81% female/13.0 years avg. employment/46% university degree/44.6 years avg. age
  • **81% of participants had same supervisor as time I

Measures: Research employed these measurement tools-

Transformation Leadership:  The most common measure of transformation leadership was used. Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (Bass and Avolio, 1995). It operationalizes four theoretically identified dimensions of transformation leaders: idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation ,and individualized consideration.

A 5-point scale ranging from 0 (not at all) to 4(often, if not always).

Reliability: Time 1: . 94, Time 2: . 96

Climate for innovation: The questionnaire, QPS Nordic, used to measure innovation, using a 5-point scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree/never) to 5 (strongly agree/always). Three items measured the degree of possibility to take initiative at work.

Reliability: Time 1:.80  Time 2:  .77

Affective well-being: The Perceived Stress Questionnaire (PSQ, 1993) was selected because it was context-free. The eight positively worded items on the test asked participants to report how well they felt the week of the test. The response scale, ranging from 1 (almost never) to 4 (most of the time) posed statements such as, “I am happy with my life,” or “I am filled with energy.”

Reliability:  Time 1: .85   Time 2:  .86

  • Results and Discussion: Researchers report the following positive correlation for both Time 1 and Time 2 for transformation leadership with climate for innovation and well-being. when testing for stability, they were confirmed using a stability model. The researchers came to three main conclusions when discussing the results of direct and indirect effects of transformational leadership on employee well-being over time: No direct effect of TL on well=being over time.
  • Differences in the level of well-being in employees can be explained, in part, by the level of innovation created by the TL.
  • TL has a direct and positive association with well-being.  It needs to be measured at the same time.

Theoretical and Practical Implications: The researchers contend that their findings contribute to the literature that exists. Overtime, Transformational Leaders have an effect of the well-being of employees over time and cross-sectionally. Because the subscales for transformational behavior were highly correlated, they cannot pinpoint which transformation behavior explains the effect on climate for innovation and well-being. They could not tell which specific behavior led to the outcome that they sought to explore.

Limitations and Future Discussion:  The researchers felt that the main weakness in their study was the use of the questionnaires.  The data was self-reported, which they felt could lead to problems with common method bias. The size of the sample was small.  The researchers felt that a larger sample might strengthen the study.  A stronger study would allow for more concrete conclusions to be drawn. The lack of variables concerned the researchers. The study was conducted in an organization comprised almost entirely of females. Could the result generalize to other settings or types of organizations? Sources of spurious dependency could be ruled out as a result of the stability coefficients that were built into the study.

Strengths: Occasional factors and biographical factors he testing of models to make sure that the scales used in the study were distinctively different. They used several procedural design remedies discovered during the literature review phase of their research.

I found the overall premise behind this study interesting to me to consider after organizational change and development. One of the key components of change is understanding that buy-in must be from those in a leadership position.  What I would have enjoyed learning more about would be the organizational learning that occurred through the design and development phase of transformational leadership. An added bonus was all of the vocabulary words that I didn’t need to look up as they were a part of last week’s reading! Yeah!

Dr. Richard Boyatzis has several wonderful videos that he’s created about leadership.  One that I found particularly interesting to me discusses the concept of brain development and leadership:

Something to chew on-

What are the qualities in a leader that encourage you to pursue innovative ideas?

Which qualities in a leader make for a climate of well-being in your organization?

How often does the leader in your department or organization participate in training for the expressed purpose of transforming his/her skills?

EDUS 660 #4: “You Don’t Know Until You Look”

This week’s Food for Thought:

Ethical Issues in Social Research should be the focus of our thought.
Ethical Issues in Social Research should be the focus of our thought.

After playing several characters in the Lab and Clinic, and reviewing the Milgram and Stanford Prison videos, describe and compare your reaction to the decisions you made as different characters and explain how you intend to avoid research misconduct.

Growing up outside of New York City, virtually nothing on television was censored during the 1970’s. Over several afternoons, Leon Uris’ novel QBVII was aired on television.  As a twelve-year-old, I sat mesmerized as the libel trial of Adam Kelno unfolded in the Queen’s Bench, courtroom seven. I had no context with which to place the events detailing medical experiments conducted on those in concentrations camps during World War II.  History for me typically recycled the main events from Columbus to the Civil War, with rarely any reference to harm, risk or justice for individuals who lived through such atrocities. While young, I knew that what I was watching was unethical, even if I didn’t have the correct vernacular with which to describe what I saw.

The Nuremberg Trials, as discussed by Babbie when introducing the concept of  “No Harm to the Participants,” was referenced several times in last week’s  CITI training. Understanding the historical basis for the Belmont Report, helps me to better understand the basis for creating standard protocols for conducting research with humans.  Part of being a member of a society, he contends “…is knowing what that society considers ethical and unethical” (Babbie, 2015:62).Understanding what the social research community considers ethical means that each member who participates in research must adhere to the principles of the social research community.

So how should one act in a social research setting when acting as our best selves? In “The Lab” simulation, I decided to play the Research Integrity Officer, Dr. Beth Ridgely and the graduate student, Kim Park.  I found that the full version of the movie, along with the lab guide to be useful tools to better understand both the role and the responsibilities of my two characters.  The background of Kim Park helped to provide a clearer understanding of the relationship between the RIO and the student researcher. Working through the “Ethical Decision-Making Model” helped me to make sure that I didn’t skip from one step over another step.  Bypassing a step, such as “I ask” to “I act”  may mean that I miss “Moral Action.”  In the simulation “The Research Clinic,” I chose to play two different characters from the first simulation, Dr. Richard Sowers, the Principle Investigator and Jan Klein, RN the Clinical Research Coordinator.

The model from the guide doesn’t copy and paste well, however, the ideas are important to understand.

Ethical Decision-Making Model

Moral AwarenessI feel

The Lab-Kim felt that something wrong was going on when reading a study that named her as co-author. Her gut was answering the question, “Is there something wrong here?”The social group in her lab gave her cause to be concerned.  After all, Greg was the “Rock Star” of the Lab.

The Clinic-I feel overwhelmed by the number of research programs that I am expected to coordinate as Jan, the CRC.  I feel both frustration and empathy when trying to explain the research proposal to the cancer patient and her son. I chose to be morally aware when deciding that my character would take the time necessary to work through the informed consent process.  It is important to ask the participant to use her own words to explain her role in the trials.  In doing so, the act of beneficence was evident.The participant was not harmed and was able to articulate how she might benefit from it.

I askMoral Judgment

The Lab-Beth raised several important questions when wondering if she would violate her judgment if she did not investigate the allegation brought forth by the complainant. Asking what would happen to the university if the Research Investigating Officer did nothing is an extremely important question to ask. How does one complete between competing loyalties? Deviation found during an audit could show evidence of research misconduct.  She was in charge of a lab at one time.  She remembers the importance of protocol.

The Clinic-Distinguishing right from wrong transitions to distinguishing better from worse. The PI needs to have enough participants to do the study.  He feels that his patients need the medication, however, the IRB has not given approval.  I forced my character to challenge the PI. I know that the PI has a relationship with the sponsor.  However, the protocol is very specific. My character, Jan, finally makes the right choice by contacting her supervisor.

Moral Intention-I think I will

It takes courage to act in the face of opposition.  In both The Clinic and The Lab, I selected the wrong choice for Beth, the RIO and Jan the CRC.  I am so conditioned to going to my supervisor or administrator first, that I failed to consider what would happen to the integrity of the project.  The presence of three individuals who followed behind a supervisor really impressed upon me the idea that the integrity of the research could be tampered with if the PI is given ample opportunity to cover his tracks.  The legal action that could have ensued in The Lab is a very real scenario.

Benefience:How in the world could the PI think that this research would benefit the participants?
Beneficence: How in the world could the PI think that this research would benefit the participants?

I actMoral Action

Sometimes people who recognize an ethical dilemma know what the right thing is to do, consider acting, but do not do so.  The power of other people can present either the motivation to take moral action or not. When considering the Stanford Prison Study, the Principle Investigator, Philip Zimbardo, could not see what was happening to the participants in his study until his girlfriend expresses shock over the treatment that she sees in the experiment.

The informed consent, which was crucial to The Clinic study simulation appeared to be lacking in both the Stanford Prison Study, 1971,  and the Milgram Experiment, 1963. When an individual who is conducting research is able to watch as harm is being inflicted upon a participant, he most certainly appears to be lacking moral action. Zimbardo and other participants who discuss this project in the video clip recognized that the student prisoners were beginning to suffer psychological distress. When considering the frequency of pain to be administered for a poor memory, this participant in The Milgram Experiment asks several times to stop.

The key principles of  The Belmont Report focus on respect for persons, beneficence and justice. The modules of theCITI training really instilled in me an appreciation for living, working and studying after the creation of this report.  While I am not so naive as to believe that instance of ethical misconduct was the norm prior to the Belmont Report, I also know that misconduct can and still does occur after the publication of the report. Understanding the role that following protocol plays in any research study after 1971, gives me greater confidence when considering my role in any past or future research projects.

Something to chew on-

Ethics: The most important piece of the research puzzle.
Ethics: The most important piece of the research puzzle.
  • Ideally, participants should benefit from any research study.Who will benefit from the study that your small group will conduct?
  • In what way will the benefits of your research be shared fairly with your participants?

Reference-

Babbie, E. (2015). The practice of social research. Cengage Learning.

EDUS 660 #3: Health Care-looking for silver bullets in the endless debate

Topic:  Health reform is a national policy issue that has been getting a significant amount of attention.  One of the biggest factors driving the need for health reform is the rising cost of health care.  If you were to create a research model about what contributes the most to the rising cost of health care, what variables (concepts) would you want to explore and how might you go about doing this.

I feel this way on many ocassions.
I feel this way on many occasions.

What contributes to the rising cost of health care seems rather complex. It does not take a scientist to know that the equipment necessary to perform even the most basic of health care procedures is complex and expensive. The Hastings Center, a nonpartisan research institution, highlights several key points relating to health care and medical technology on the front page of their website.

They submit that there are four problems for health care reform in this video clip.  This section is 8 minutes in length-

Source:  thehastingscenter.org

http://library.fora.tv/2015/05/15/The_Moral_Foundations_of_Health_Insurance

  1. Cost
  2. Access to Care
  3. Outcomes
  4. Quality of Care

In my second blog, the idea that new knowledge would replace old knowledge as advances in technology occurs daily. When considering how much health care is spent in the United States, I found an interesting app to enlighten me to the trends, components of spending by states and by the federal system.

Source:  http://thecostapp.ahip.org
Source: http://thecostapp.ahip.org

The charts, buttons, and even the sources provide an interesting way to begin looking at health care spending as a novice. For example, American’s Health Insurance Plans indicates the different hospital prices by a state for specific procedures.  Heart failure costs appear to be highest in California and New Jersey. In fact, when I click on each of the illness indicated, I notice that these two states appear to be more costly than others are.  The sources section provides codes and links for Medicare & Medicaid Services websites.  America’s Health Insurance Plan, AHIP, sponsors the App which provides these statistics. https://www.ahip.org/

The unsettling aspect of using a source such as this one is the lack of peer-reviewed resources necessary to provide credibility for the data. Viewers have no idea who really owns and operates this website as well as who provides the funding to portray the information in this manner.

Based on the readings from the first two weeks of this course, I would assume that one of the first places to look for contributions of the rising cost of health care would be to do a literature search and review as opposed to a “Google” search. What are those in the field experiencing and reporting?  Where is there an abundance of research and where is there a lack of research?  Knowing what researchers have done would provide support for further study.

How the high cost of health care impacts those within the society would engage my interest as a social scientist. When Babbie suggests that social science is linked to social life, he reminds me that “Social Researchers study things that matter to people-things that people have firm, personal feelings about and that affect their lives” (Babbie, 2015: 63). So indirectly, the high cost of health care is a social concern.  The ability to receive quality care affects individuals in all lifestyles. The four problems identified by the Hastings Center would provide concepts for me to consider if proposing research to explore the topic of the rising cost of health care.  Of personal interest to me, would be the concept of Quality of Care. Relationships and human experience are important considerations for me when considering an effective a health program for myself.

  • Which procedure or care would enhance your life right now? 
  • Which factors are preventing you from obtaining it?   

Babbie, E. (2015). The practice of social research. Cengage Learning.

EDUS 660 #2: Sign me up for the undertaking

“To err is human; to admit it, superhuman.” Doug Larson

I selected this image for several reasons.  It makes me shake my head and laugh.  Humans are gullible and some are more so than others.

When considering what to post for an article, editorial or blog regarding errors, I thought about how our history lessons remind us of times when believing a reassuring lie was far too easy for society to do.  Each time  I hear Orsen Well’s rendition of War of the Worlds I am reminded of how inconvenient truths, such as those that may surround the government, religion or science, are difficult to swallow regardless of the research behind them.

It's easy to believe a well crafted lie.

It’s easy to believe a well-crafted lie.While this radio broadcast was terrifying for many, our understanding of Martians was not based on scientific fact, but rather on cultural ideas.

In this week’s  “Food for Thought” blog, I am asked to consider the common errors of human inquiry. While I have relatively little experience in these errors as far as research is concerned, I have seen them unfold in novels, movies and nonfiction work.  As a public educator, I collected experiences of students in annotated format for Child Study purposes as well as for educational research purposes.

While Orsen Well’s radio broadcast was well before my time, scandal regarding the Nestle Corporation and the marketing of baby formula to mothers in underdeveloped countries was within my time. Business Insider’s Every Parent Should Know The Scandalous History of Infant Formula reminds us how mother’s around the world trusted the research to help them to become Westernized in the way in which they cared for their children.  In 1982, New Internationalist magazine drew attention to the way in which science, business, and marketing used babies to promote products.

Source: newinter.org/features/1982/04/01/babies

In her blog, All Parenting, Janelle Hanchette, continues to ask, “Is Nestle Still Making Poor Choices with Baby Formula?” Nearly 40 years later Nestle, one of the largest food distributors in the world, is still being scrutinized for these behaviors.

Any man can make mistakes, but only an idiot persists in his error.

Marcus Tullius Cicero

A Degree of precision vs. inaccurate observations-

Measurement devices guard against inaccurate observations and allow the researcher to be more deliberate when making observations.  Ask two individuals what they saw and you’ll get two different responses.  There’s no guessing in science.

Babbie presents a selection of  errors common to social science research  for novice research students (2015). Rather than simply regurgitate the examples, I consider how I may apply the solutions he presented to both this course and future research.

Failing to plan may mean planning to fail-

This is an old adage. It’s one that I’ve used to when speaking to my students and one that I have used when admonishing myself. New ideas regarding research ask me to consider how have I reacted to pressure to come to a conclusion in the past?  I also need to consider now how to plan for ways to avoid capitulating to pressure, if faced with it in the future.   My research inquiry may be misdirected if I give into the pressure to just find an idea and then move on.

Babbie’s example of the reporter who failed to wait long enough to get “the whole story” is a good reminder to allow time to conduct thorough research and investigation.  Skimming the top for basic ideas can result in highly inaccurate results. The editor with egg on his face will think twice before assigning another important story to a rookie reporter.  A foundation or department will think twice before allowing an inept researcher to participate in an important study if s/he takes shortcuts when drawing conclusions.

A swat to “pithy” sayings 

There is always one person in every crowd who delights in breaking the rules.  The concept that there is an”exception that proves the rule” is illogical.  Where do rules come from and why do individuals perpetuate them?  Group stereotypes may help to diffuse cognitive dissonance, yet impede accurate observations. Robert Wooley‘s post What is the “Gambler’s Fallacy” illustrates the example provided by Babbie regarding illogical reasoning. Engaging my research with others around me will help to not only keep me honest, but remind me to use logical reasoning when considering observations. Babbie reminds us that science “…attempts to protect us from the common pitfalls of ordinary inquiry.” He goes on to say that “observing and understanding reality is not an obvious or trivial matter.” Pithy sayings and science just don’t jive well.

Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow!

Babbie cautions me to remember that scientific understanding of the world is ever changing.  When old knowledge is replaced by new knowledge the importance of continuous research on the part of social scientists provides me with hope for tomorrow.  Babbie referenced the work of Sam Arbesman at the conclusion of the section regarding errors in human inquiry.  While twelve minutes in length, it’s worth the time when considering how vital research is to the advancement of our society.

If what Arbesman suggests about old knowledge and new knowledge is true then young social researchers would benefit from the replication of research study.  In doing so, we would learn how to conduct testing, determine how the results were derived while suggesting new methods to explore the topic.

When considering how you know what you know-

  • Which aspect of your knowledge of human behavior have changed since the beginning of your graduate course of study?
  • Which aspect of your knowledge have either decayed or may do so over time?

Work Cited

Babbie, E. (2015). The practice of social research. Cengage Learning.

EDUS 660 #1: Growing the Seeds of Change

Hello, everyone

I am a student in the Adult Learning program in the SOE.  My track of study is Human Resource Development. I have worked in public education for twenty years.  The last four years I have concentrated on work in the non-profit sector.

My teaching skills and love of education didn’t cease when leaving the traditional classroom.  As a Literacy Volunteer, I provide English Language skills and tutoring weekly for an adult student.  This is the first teaching experience where my student does all of her homework and more than I ask.  It’s very exciting to work with someone who wants to learn!

As a Master Gardener, I have worked with children as part of an after school gardening program.  I am hopeful that the program that I create for the Design and Delivery of Adult Programs will come to fruition with the creation of a parent-child gardening class.

I am a volunteer at the University of Virginia Medical Center I have worked in the surgical family lounge, the gift shop and the flowers for patients program. In June, I will be the president of the organization. An auxiliary in a large medical center is like a small corporation. The work of this organization ties hearts and hands to work that supports the medical staff.  This role is the perfect medium to cultivate the seeds sown in the Adult Learning curriculum.  My most recent course of study in Organizational Change has ignited a desire dig deeper into the theories and research of the management experts we explored.

I have general ideas regarding the process of research, however, I have not participated in research where new ideas were generated. My experiences are limited to exploration of passions within a field of current study in my program.  In my last blog entry for Organizational Change, I indicated that what I knew about the topic could fit on an index card.  While I am not an entirely blank slate, I imagine that I would be hard pressed to fill one side of that index card with knowledge about the “correct” processes and procedures for research.

Dr. William Muth, my Theories of Adult Learning professor shared that Learning from Strangers, The Art and Method of Qualitative Interview Studies by Robert S. Weiss was important to his growth as a researcher.  I immediately purchase it and hope that this course will provide a balance between quantitative and qualitative research.

My current interest is in creating communities of leaders through mentorship.  I am also interested in compassion and mindfulness in organizational life.

One of the last readings from Adult 625 was about compassion in organizational life.  I was intrigued by the discussion of the dynamics of organizational compassion.

“An organizations’ capacity for collective noticing, feeling, and responding thus derives from its “mindfulness” (Weick, Sutcliffe, & Obstfeld, 1999), The compassionate Organizations Quiz, from Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life, is a good place to start when considering how leaders model and cultivate pockets of compassion in organizations. Are all the organizations in my life compassionate?  Do the leaders model compassionate behavior?

Ultimately, I would like to use my graduate studies to be an educational consultant. I feel certain that further study in both of these areas will certainly enhance my skills as a consultant.

The image that I’ve selected to represent research is one of a row of Tennis Ball Lettuce. Thomas Jefferson kept precise records with his daily observation of what was growing and happening in his garden.  His copious notes have allowed the foundation to recreate his garden, as it would have looked in the 18th Century. We believe that he planted a thimble full of lettuce seeds each week from February to June to ensure an ample crop.  Visitors are astonished that a seed as small as a lettuce seed could produce a head of lettuce.

With the right conditions, a “thimble-full” of significant ideas, facts and data could produce something of quality.

I took this image at Monticello where I  am a Garden Ambassador with the Revolutionary Garden Program.

Tennis Ball Lettuce-Monticello
Tennis Ball Lettuce-Monticello