So What?

Posted on  by matthew.tulloch

What is it, if anything, that we are able to now say about our research questions? What findings do we deem important to share? What claim are we making? What have we learned about the student experience by doing this research?

The student experience varies. There is not one concrete type of experience. Numerous factors play into the well-being of students. The student experience is influenced by senses of belonging, programs, user experience, commute time, familial responsibilities. To some degree, every student experiences some sort of a violation of expectations. It may be academic or simply environmental. What truly matters is how one adjusts to such violations and the time taken to do so. The adjustment period is what truly matters. The students who are most prepared for such violations have a stronger likelihood of adjusting to violations than those too fearful or too optimistic. Preparation is key to ensuring students are ready for undergrad. Different programs bring forth different stresses to students. So, it is important for students entering their first years to understand some potential violations (poor grades, packed schedule, commute times, tuition fees, balancing of extra curricular activities, language adjustments, services for students, textbooks, fewer assignments).

What have you learned about yourself and research?

This Student Experience project has really expanded my understanding on research. Being in the Sociology faculty, I am accustomed to quantitative and qualitative forms of data analysis. I am familiar with coding and sampling. In-depth analysis of text is something that is not foreign to me. However, before SERT, I had never truly explored Arts-Based Research. To be frank, it was so different from any form or iteration of research that I had done in the past. The difference between Arts-Based and some of the previous forms of research that I had part-took in is that Arts-based enables the researched to be co-researchers. In more quantitative forms of analysis such as social statistics, a sample is taken from particular groups to be studied in depth by sociological researchers. Arts-based really stretched my very own narrow scope on research. I did not really weigh the possibilities of research being performed in creative, more inclusive forms. From this form of inquiry, I learned that it is very possible to conduct research, all while utilizing unique forms to gather information. We utilized one such form of Arts-based known as collage. It was fun, and enabled participants to tear pages out of newspapers and magazines to create stories. Each SERT member participated in a collage exercise which was one of the most fruitful experiences that I have had doing research! I learned some things about myself! While creating my own collage about my student experience, I found that looking at different images through magazines and newspapers brought back to my remembrance important instances playing roles in my student experience. Some forms of imagery were so powerful that they acted as symbols of some important moment in my experience. The beauty of SERT is that we did not simply conduct research to learn of others. While conducting research on each participant and learning of arts-based research, I believe that we also indirectly learned more about ourselves as students.

-Matthew

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