There are numerous courses that I have taken at Longwood University, that has taught me many great things but nothing like Social Research and Program Evaluation 345 has. I have learned skills and experiences that I can utilize in future workforce settings. Before taking this class, I had no understanding of conducting research and evaluating research, especially with analyzing quantitative data and qualitative data. With that being said, I learned that part of conducting research is analyzing academic research. In the beginning of the semester, I struggled with knowing how to analyze academic research and how to write an academic research paper with proper citations. While conducting research, I found it to be hard to find academic literature from previous research’s related to “what affect does race have on family involvement?” I had to learn how to dive deeper into academic research, in order to find appropriate data that would help me answer my research question and was reliable. Before completing this project and course, I would look at articles more briefly and not be able to determine whether the research was opinion based or factual. Now with the knowledge received from this course, I know how to better distinguish between opinion based and fact-based academic articles when conducting academic research. I kept all of my original academic research sources from the beginning of my research, because I felt that they achieved what I wanted in my research. In other classes prior to this one, I had just picked up pieces in numerous ways on how to conduct research. It wasn’t until Dr. Pederson Social Research and Program Evaluation 345 course, that I was able to start from scratch creating my own research. For example, each student was able to come up with their own research question and what dependent variable and independent variable they would like to utilize. I know have a better understanding about how much truly goes into research. 

From this course, I learned that all researcher encounter challenges when doing research and to expect it to occur. A challenge that I encountered while conducting research was working with data and coding the data that was received back from the family fun time activities into a system called R Studio. I never used a system like R studio before, so I found it to be very frustrating when it came to coding my data. I overcame this challenge, by asking questions and learning by playing around on R Studio. This research project only revived back 20 respondents. This was another challenge because the data was limited. It was hard to answer the research questions “what affect does race have on family involvement for families at the Andy Taylor Center and STEP Head Start?” because there was not enough data to see any relationship between my dependent and independent variable for the study. I overcame this by being honest about the response rate and stating that it was difficult to find a relationship for the two variables. From completely my own research, I now know how important it is to have patients when encounter challenge’s during research because it is not going to be smooth sailing. 

Coming into this semester, I was not at all confident about doing research. I had no idea what to expect nor how to conduct and carry out my own research. My attitudes and perceptions about doing research has completely changed since the beginning of the semester. I feel way more confident in my ability to do research. For example, I know the steps and process to successfully complete research on my own and how to present the research findings. I am also more confident in my ability to comprehend research that has already previously been written and conducted. I knew my confidence increased when I was assigned to finding 15 research articles for a project in another course and I did it with such ease. I had a better understanding of looking at the quantitative and qualitative findings. What I think it means to “think like a researcher” is to think deeper and be more curious about certain topics. When working on research, I think it is important to think deeper down then the surface because you will get more takes aways from the research I you do so. You want to think as critically as possible. I also think it is important to think in a way that is curious. You want to be curious, so that you ask yourselves more questions during research to gain a better understanding and gain more knowledge. I believe it is important to constantly strive to learn and explore more while doing research, so that you get the best possible outcome.