Another case of how better research may have helped avoid a mess!

PR Spotlight on Lilly Pulitzer: Simultaneously Hitting and Missing the Mark | Bulldog Reporter.

p.s. Y’all may want to consider subscribing to Bulldog Reporter. Some interesting reading!

An interesting example of research, the lack thereof and the need for future research!

Anti-Tobacco PR’s Monkey Wrench: Report Shows Teen E-Cigarette Use has Tripled in Just One Year, Offsetting All Prior Gains | Bulldog Reporter.

Posted by: Rachel Fleenor | April 13, 2015

Can positive expectations bolster education?

Working in education can be like navigating a land mine-littered field. Everyone has their own opinions and own beliefs about what the education system should and should not involve. Countless studies have focused on students and education. Some recent studies include a British study comparing expectations placed on students and their achievement outcomes (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/berj.3171/epdf), the role parental expectations play in early childhood development (http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.1086/680014?uid=2&uid=4&sid=21105976167591), negative racial discriminatory experiences in schools and their impact on students’ view of themselves (http://jar.sagepub.com/content/30/1/83.short), and student empowerment outcomes (http://yas.sagepub.com/content/early/2015/01/12/0044118X14566118.abstract).

In an effort to extend on this research, I want to examine how actively communicating positivity to students can bolster student achievement. The idea of creating community around student achievement – and a shared goal of helping students reach their goals through education – first came to me last year when I began a new job with the focus of doing exactly that. Through various outlets, including social media and traditional news media, I have been working to highlight the dreams of students. So, for this study, I am interested in examining the following research question: When communities positively communicate about students, what is the affect on student achievement rates?

This photo, featuring a student from Portland Public Schools, is an example of how Oregon students have great ambitions for the future. A video of this same student was also released by “The Promise of Oregon” campaign, which aims to highlight Oregon’s K-12 and community college students in a positive manner.

Currently, Oregon ranks close to last out of all the states for its high school graduation rates (http://www.politifact.com/oregon/statements/2014/jul/23/dennis-richardson/does-oregon-rank-49th-nation-its-high-school-gradu/).

Yet, Gallop indicates that approximately 94% of Americans view K-12 education as extremely or very important.

So, what is the disconnect? Perhaps it has to do with the value placed on education in indirect ways. What would happen to graduation rates if community members proactively and vocally supported education and students’ ambitions?

This study is important for a couple different reasons.

First, it would be interesting to see if community support for students and pro-education communication does indeed have a positive impact on their ability to graduate, achieve success and value education.

Additionally, I think that a possible practical implication from this study would be that education is not just the job of teachers or parents, but it is the job of the community to come around and support our future generations by showing that education is valuable. When positive expectations for students are emphasized, then that is what students will strive to achieve.

(This is post 2, based on Exercise 11.2 of the book Qualitative Research Methods: Collecting evidence, crafting analysis, communicating impact by Sarah Tracy.)

Posted by: JenLuecht | April 12, 2015

It’s Official, Hillary’s Running for President

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Hillary Rodham Clinton at an event in Washington in March. Credit Jabin Botsford/The New York Times.

“I wanted to make sure you heard it first from me – it’s official: Hillary’s running for president,” said an email released this morning written by John D. Podesta, Hillary’s campaign chairman. This announcement set in stone what could be one of the Democratic party’s least contested races for Presidential nomination in recent history (according to an article by Amy Chozick in The New York Times). It could also be the first time in history a woman will succeed in winning a major party’s nomination and potentially the presidency.

This announcement could not come at a better time – for both our country, and for the purpose of this blog post. For my study the narrow scope has yet to be defined, but I do know that in it I will examine the online discourse surrounding Hillary’s presidential campaign in late 2015. The study will employ a theoretical perspective to understand the power play within the digital sphere and the language used to position a female candidate by both of the political majorities.

The application of theory in this study will be vital in creating a foundation for understanding the power play between the sexes and the language and tactics used in discourse surrounding a public figure. This study will have immense practical application in the power tug-of-war between the sexes as more of our everyday lives become digital. It will also participate in, and pose an opportunity for social transformation, as it will coincide with the events surrounding the first female presidential candidate.

As we debate whether the digital world is really an extension of the “real world,” and many individuals (in this case women) experience sexual harassment and sexism in online dialogue, this is the perfect time to examine the status quo within the discourse of online communities, the media, and thus our society as a whole.

This study will be very rigorous, as it will be important to collect a large enough amount of data to sufficiently support my hypothesis, findings, and to paint a picture that uses criteria that are as theoretically sound as possible. Because the study will not run the entire length of Hillary’s presidential campaign, it will be necessary to gather the right type of data to create a useful snapshot. When adopting appropriate data collection and analysis practices, I will have to rely on primary, reliable online sources. It also might be in the study’s best interest to focus on Hillary’s campaign for democratic presidential nominee instead of her presidential campaign as a whole.

Chozick explains that Hillary’s platform will focus on “improving the economic fortunes of the middle class, with an emphasis on increasing wages and reducing income inequality.” But, only time will tell if online discourse between the two political majorities will actually focus Hillary’s political platform and less on gender.

Post in response to Exercise 11.1 (p.233) in Qualitative Research Methods by Sarah J. Tracy.

Posted by: chrisforde915 | April 12, 2015

Representation Matters

Chapter 11 – Qualitative Quality Exercise 11.1

This week’s required reading provided a much needed introduction to brainstorming research topics for my final project. Although I have not yet solidified what my topic will be, I have identified areas of interest that spark my curiosity. For the sake of this post I will gauge the worth and rigor of the following research question: How are young girls influenced by positive imagery of black characters in film and television. With the evolution of the film and television industry, there has been improvements made in regards to diversity and representation, providing a multicultural perspective that was once missing.

In my opinion, this research study is extremely important and is indeed a worthy topic to shed light on. In a recent study released in 2013 by USC’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, which examined 500 top grossing films (roughly 20,000 characters) released in the United States over a five year span (2007-2012), declared diversity is sorely disproportionate. It was discovered that across 100 top-grossing films of 2012, only 10.8% of speaking characters are black, 4.2% are Hispanic, 5% are Asian and 3.6% are from other ethnicities.

At one point in time or another we’ve all heard the saying, “if you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it.” It is a breath of fresh air for many girls to see movies such as Akeelah and the Bee (2006), Annie (2014), and most recently Home (2015).

Home Picture

All three of these movies represent black girls in a positive light, as a lead character, and provides much needed exposure and acceptance that many young girls seek as they find their way in society. There has been countless research studies focused on the impact that negative imagery has on young girls but it’ll will be interesting to focus on the effects of positive representation to provide a new perspective.

In my opinion, this research study is sufficiently rigorous. Most of the study will involve focus groups (tv/moving screenings), as well as, a well written survey instrument to gauge how young girls feel and or perceive themselves after watching a movie or television show that provides positive imagery. It would be beneficial to work with an organization, such as Girls Inc. that allocate resources and training for young girls through their media literacy program.

Posted by: Lucila Cejas | April 12, 2015

Quality in Research

Exercise 11.1

There are several points that arise on Chapter 11, aptly titled: “Qualitative quality: Creating a credible, ethical, significant study”. In order to have a relevant, meaningful, and well-conducted study, it is important to have a topic worthy of research, study it rigorously, and have results that will be meaningful to the researcher and the larger population.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I would like to research how adolescents relate to brands.  Is this a worthy topic? First, I will have to consider the concepts that will allow me to explore and explain the subject, such as market research, brand, brand identity, brand loyalty, product, and differentiation among others. Through these, I will not only be able to ask the right questions, but I will be able to provide meaningful results to the field. Understanding the relationship that adolescents have with brands will provide good insights on how to create brands -or build upon existing ones- and communicate their messages to this generation in an efficient and sustainable way. I consider this relevant, since Generation Z will soon become the biggest population with the most disposable income – a fact that will make them the target of advertisements and marketing campaigns.

Teenagers have had access to unlimited information since birth. Even those of us who are not digital natives no longer rely on friends and family for product recommendations. Instead, a lot of our purchases come from the thousands of detailed reviews found online. I no longer have the brand loyalty I once had, so how will this concept apply to those younger than me? Will brand loyalty be weakened or strengthened? Will this depend on the product, the brand identity, or a different variable? Interviewing teens on their purchasing habits as well as their thoughts on different brands will give me insight on this topic.

Rigor, which the book defines as “the care and effort taken to ensure that the research is carried out in an appropriate manner”, is what makes or breaks a research study. This is something that has really resonated with me because I feel like I should work on my project for at least a year before I present it as new, thorough, and unique insight on the matter. At the moment, I am reading studies and articles on Generation Z, and to make sure I do not miss out on any relevant information, I signed up for Google Alerts on the topic. Also, I intend to spend my summer further researching the topic as well as investigating previous studies done on the Millennials and branding. Analyzing the methodologies and results of previous studies will help me get an idea as to what kind of questions and topics I can explore with my subjects.

Posted by: stratcommpdx | April 12, 2015

Science and Politics: a worthy discussion

As presidential candidates announce their 2016 campaigns, I contemplate themes for my final research project for the discipline Qualitative Research Methods in Strategic Communication. Author Sarah Tracy lists the following eight criteria for excellent qualitative research: worthy topic, rich rigor, sincerity, credibility, resonance, significant contribution, ethical and meaningful coherence. Indeed my objective is to develop a research project that will meet all these criteria and offer a scholarly contribution to my field of study.

I am interested in studying the relations between Science and Politics by discourse analysis of the presidential candidates speeches and their manifestos as well as the media coverage around science and technology themes during the 2016 presidential race. Some of my research questions follows.

  • How presidential candidates present science and technology in their manifestos?
  • What is the extent of the press coverage around science and technology themes during the 2016 race?
  • Are science and technology topics discussed in public debates?
  • Will controversial themes such as climate change, anti-vaccine movement hit the political discussions?

Below I address questions about my proposed study worthiness and rigor.

  1. In what ways is your study’s topic worthy?

In my opinion, the political discourse around science and technology themes might increase the population’s awareness and contribute for social transformation. Also, it is vital that voters have a broader understanding about their candidates’ views on topics that are important for future generations.

  1. In what ways is your study interesting? How does it solve a problem or puzzle? How does it provide something new and surprising?

The purpose of this study is to analyze the opinions of presidential hopefuls and media coverage during the presidential campaign around science and technology topics. The study allows a better understanding of future policies and promotes a broader discussion of these issues in the public sphere. As politicians influence and create policies that will affect future generations it is relevant to observe their positions on topics such as climate change, vaccination, genetically modified food, and their focus on science and technology concerns.

  1. Is your study sufficiently rigorous? Given the topic and the contribution you hope to make, what other things might you do to ensure due diligence in terms of data collection, time spent in the field, and adopting appropriate data collection and analysis?

I expect that most of my study will focus on the media coverage of the presidential candidates’ campaigns and their 2016 official manifestos.

* Exercise 11.1 extracted from Chapter 11 Qualitative Quality in Qualitative Research Methods.

Posted by: katieaoreilly | April 12, 2015

Is it worth it? Let me work it…out

texting mlb

Week two blog response to exercise 11.1 in Qualitative Research Methods

Worthiness and rigor: Two words that cause me anxiety every time I try to research something. There comes a point in every project when, after countless hours of work, you suddenly realize, “Dear lord, none of this means anything!” Hoping to avoid that moment in my final project, I’m going to try to answer Missy Elliot’s age-old question before I begin. Is it worth it?

As my dear classmates know by now, I plan on studying the ways in which Major League Baseball (MLB) is branded to appeal to millenials. Considering the study’s target audience is primarily MLB itself, diving into specific strategies for bringing a new generation of fans to the game is an issue worth investigating. I am yet to identify a specific theory to work from, but there would certainly be a practical application for the league, which is currently faced with a primary viewer demographic aging in real time. If this study can narrow down the true emotional and physical draw of MLB to those who already love the sport, they could apply it to a marketing strategy to entice new viewers with the same experiences.

Naturally, the “worthiness” of this study depends in part upon whether or not one is a fan of baseball or not, otherwise it may not seem very interesting. However, if Baiomy can study resort hotel restaurant menus for a living, I think I’m in the clear. As I mentioned already, MLB’s primary demographic is aging rapidly, and the league is losing popularity to other professional sports like football and basketball. I am hoping to provide new information about my generation using my position as a millennial baseball fan, my personal experience trying to convince others to love the game as I do, and my observations of millennial fans in the ballpark as well as interviews with others my age, especially those with no interest in the sport. In combination with the market research MLB conducts already, I believe my research can provide a deep qualitative analysis of the attitudes of my generation toward major league baseball.

Admittedly, it’s hard to think of a day at the ballpark as “rigorous,” but there are a number of factors that complicate my work. First off, the nearest major league team is in Seattle, and the cost of travel and tickets is a barrier to spending sufficient time in the field. Because of this, I will need to find a way to conduct some of my research outside of the ballpark. This can be achieved by interviewing (in person or online) others who self-identify as a Mariners fan or a non-fan. Gathering information from millenials is the first step in identifying where the disconnect lies, and more time at the park may (hopefully) be needed later in the process, as I attempt to identify solutions rather than causes of millennial apathy toward MLB.

Posted by: listonjoe | April 11, 2015

Building a Relevant and Practical Understanding

Exercise 11.2 “Gauging significance” (pg. 242)

In looking at what draws Chinese students to come study abroad at U.S. universities, such as Portland State University and the University of Oregon, my hope would be to build a theoretical understanding, from a cultural point of view, of why they decide to enroll in U.S. universities.

Perhaps researching this phenomenon more deeply will expand upon existing theories (if they do indeed exist) of the students’ motivations, advancing conceptual development. Perhaps conclusions put forth by previous research, for example, that U.S. schools are preferred simply due to the cache, or status they bring is only a small factor. Maybe it genuinely is due to a higher level of scholarship and instruction, or other factors such as cost/value. New revelations revealed by the research would build on possible existing research conclusions.

From a methodological perspective, new ways of obtaining the data could be found compared to previous studies. Perhaps deeper studies in China of universities there from both a quantitative and qualitative perspective; obtaining a data set about admissions, cost and public perception of Chinese universities might provide a context that previous studies have not. The methodology from previous studies may have, from an American point of view, only focused on interviews and focus groups, while ignoring perceptions based on the Chinese cultural point of view.

This study could provide a framework to effectively study other international foreign student groups in the future, such as the large number of students coming to study from the Middle East. While the reasons different groups may come to American universities may differ, a framework could be created that inspires and allows university researchers to more effectively discover the motivations of foreign students. It could also allow universities to better accommodate students from outside of the U.S. when they do come.

Practically, revelations from this research could help stakeholders, specifically, universities, create improved communication strategies that they could use to attract students from China to enroll. They could also use knowledge from the research to provide classes and a curriculum that are more geared towards the needs and desires of this growing group of students. Professors would be more aware of the cultural background of Chinese students, and if relevant, apply that knowledge in the creation and instruction of classes.

With the improved knowledge that this research could bring about, Chinese students might find U.S. institutions that are not only better able to accommodate them generally, but are better able to help them succeed in their studies.

Reading Exercise Post 2:4. Jamie Schaub
Chapter 11 Qualitative Quality – Creating a credible, ethical, significant study.
Exercise 11.1 (p.233)

As I wrap my brain around my final project, I found Exercise 11.1 helpful in taking the first of many baby steps towards my final project. The exercise wanted me to gauge my project’s worth and rigor, which are explained under the ‘eight “big tent” criteria for excellent qualitative research (QRM, p.230)’ approach.

What is my final research project? It’s still developing, but in a nutshell I want my project to answer the following question: How do homeless youth use social media in acquiring housing, food, employment, and travel? I also see my project answering a couple of secondary questions that are not yet clear to me.

The Questions
1. Worthiness: The first criteria under the big tent is worthiness, and the exercise begins with a three-pronged question: First, does it have theoretical relevance? Secondly, does it have a practical application? And, thirdly, is there an opportunity for social transformation? Yes, yes and yes. As I start to dip my toes into finding out what research has already been done, I have discovered some interesting findings. For example, in 2011, University of Southern California School of Social Work published a study on homeless youth which found that ‘51 percent use cell phones stay connected to friends from home, and 41 percent connect to their parents (Homeless teens consider smart phone as important as food. December 21, 2011).’

I would explore further to see if those percentages have changed within the last four years (since four years in the tech world means huge innovation jumps in technology) and how shelters are using social media to help kids.

2. Interesting, Surprising and Problem-solving: I suspect that not all homeless youth use social media, but my hunch tells me that social media is a new tool within this population. Initially, I believed in the myth that smartphones were a luxury item and that people with zero to dismal incomes cannot afford its purchase and data plans, let alone access to battery charging stations. This myth was busted by the percentages I mentioned in the question above.

For me, the more myth-busting a research study is, the more interesting and surprising it becomes. What problem(s) will my research project solve? I don’t exactly know, yet. However, I am optimistic that meaningful insights will be uncovered

3. Rigorous: I hope that by the time I am ready to start my project, my plan will be as rigorous as possible to ensure that I am collecting the appropriate data, have enough of it, and that it’s meaningful. For my field study, I would like to work with Outside In, a nonprofit that serves the homeless youth population, and visit a few well-known coffee shops. I would like my advisor to review my data collection approach and seek the opinions of a couple of my peers for their feedback and suggestions.

Overall, this was a great exercise in taking my first steps.

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