Communicating My Research

When talking to a general audience with the intention of conveying my research’s significance, I would direct their attention to how important the research I am conducting is for black youth, and to get even more specific black female youth in particular. A lot of the time, stories and narratives concerning them are always created from an outside perspective. People take one look and conjure up their own myths and legends that ultimately determine how they treat young black boys and girls. But what happens when these young individuals are given the tools to tell their own stories, to depict the reality of their situations. How empowering must that be for them? How invigorating? That’s really what’s at the heart of my project. I aim to supplement the body of research concerning how educational methods and subject matter affect black students’ self-efficacy and how that in turn affects their community. Following that discussion point, I would then explain the purpose of the organization I am working with in order to conduct my research. Laying out the details of how H.Y.P.E. (Homewood Youth-Powered and Engaged) Media, is a critical literacy, digital humanities program that through a series of lessons/program meetings works to equip black high school students with “new media” skills (e.g., video, social media, etc.) in order to begin to shift the narrative about their neighborhood and tell its story through their own lens. Moreover, I would establish how the main point of this study is to explore how the teaching methods utilize as well as the subject matter conveyed ultimately affects a student self-confidence and how those levels of confidence determine their ability to execute change within their community through the use of “new media” skills (e.g., video, social media, etc.).  

 I would then turn my audience’s attention to specific research questions while asking them to keep the overarching topic discussed beforehand in mind.  

1. How can they use “new media” to communicate their thoughts and ideas about their community in order to facilitate change?   

2. How can they use “new media” amongst themselves in order to present individual forms of self-expression in order to change their self-efficacy and community relationships?  

3. How does a black student’s self-confidence in their ability to facilitate community change through “new media” progress overtime? What factors affect those changes?   

4. If students already possess high levels of self-confidence in these areas, how was it gained?  

I believe by the end of this discussion someone with no prior background knowledge in my field of study would have a better grasp of just how significant the impact of my work is intended to be. 

Currently I am a Public and Professional Writing major operating under the English department and in turn the humanities. To be honest based on my current professional status I am unsure of whom I would contact outside of the large department I already reside in in order to pursue the goals of my research. However, I do believe that if things with Covid-19 didn’t make it difficult to get in contact with others, I would spend some time in the digital media department due to the nature of the type of research I’m conducting. Though it’s centered on rhetoric, the research also involves the use of different types of “new media” something I’m only familiar with on a very surface level. I don’t have much experience with tools such as Adobe, but I know I would gain a large amount of knowledge from an in-person and in-depth discussion of its usage.  

I plan to communicate these finds in a more compact and concise format. I want the project to be understandable and initiate thought-provoking discussions. I hate to say this research is “timely” because the blatant disregard for black people’s lives, stories, thoughts, and emotions is constant, however, I do believe this is a conversation more people are willing to have following the death of George Floyd. I would like the fashion in which I communicate this topic to a broader audience to supplement these conversations and discussions. I want to immediately capture my audience’s attention and in order to do I will open with a statement that highlights the research project’s significance, asking questions such as “How can perceptions of ourselves and how others view us be changed when we have control over our own image?”. Then I would succinctly describe the purpose of H.Y.P.E. media and how the organization provides black youth with tools of empowerment. I want the findings of this research to be as accessible as possible, therefore, I might avoid utilizing unfamiliar jargon entirely or if I do will provide adequate definitions and examples of terminology others might not be familiar with such as culturally sustaining pedagogy and performing a narrative of resistance. I also plan to do some “showing and not telling” in a sense as a part my research will be conducive to collaborative ethnography or “people documenting their own realities (through photography and collection of documents) and a stage of returning people’s words from interviews to them in transcript form and discussing the data we have collected, and our interpretations with them” (Hodges & Jones as cited by Hamilton, 1999). I want to present in fashion where I include the work of my participants such as social media posts, original works, and podcast episodes. Furthermore, the way in which these works are communicated to these audiences will not solely be by me through my own interpretations of others’ experiences, but instead me presenting participants’ interpretations of their own ordeals. I think this element of presentation really harps on the importance I put on people documenting their own experiences and that documentation being what’s put out in a public facing profile. I believe retaining this aspect throughout my research will be an important duty to uphold and should be kept in mind especially on the research end of things.  

I will describe this experience as something pivotal to prospects in my immediate post-undergraduate life. As a rising junior, this is the most impactful “thing” I’ve done in my college career. I’ve conducted research in the past, but it was on a smaller, more disconnected scale. This time I am a part of the actual research. I am a part of the H.Y.P.E. team that’s going to help young black girls tell their story. I am a part of a team that’s going to help these girls start their own social media campaign, their own podcast, their own website. Although I am a researcher, I’m also taking a part in the monumental process of empowerment. Furthermore, I will convey how it was important for me, not only as a black woman but as a fellow human being, that my research help rather than harm a black community. Illuminating how I acted as a proxy for black students’ experiences and their own interpretations of those experiences in order for them to reach an even broader audience. Moreover, I plan to discuss how I, as defined by Merriam (2009) utilized qualitative research, a process where, “…researchers are interested in understanding how people interpret their experiences, how they construct their worlds, and what meaning they attribute to their experiences.” Highlighting the main qualities of such research: 

1) Concentration on fully grasping participants’ experiences with goal of communicating these experiences into meaning  

2) The actual research is an essential mechanism in collecting data from purpose of evaluation  

3) The research methods utilize are conducive of inductive reasoning as opposed to conductive reasoning  

4) The material produced is highly descriptive  

(Butina et al 2006) 

I will then bring up how I used traditional means of ethnographic research. Then I will discuss how that helped me improve my interpersonal/interview skills. Moreover, I will described how I explored forms of research such as ‘collaborative ethnography’ which as I mentioned before “involves people documenting their own realities (through photography and collection of documents) and a stage of returning people’s words from interviews to them in transcript form and discussing the data we have collected, and our interpretations with them” (see Hodge & Jones, 1996; Barton & Hamilton, 1998; Hamilton, 1998). And finally, I will bring up my usage of teacher-research methodologies as I conducted workshops within the program and received direct data from the participants themselves  

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