by Elias Koester, psychology student
Before taking the Community Based Research Course , I was very new to the hands on experience in Psychology. I was accustomed to the traditional class-lecture that required simply reading a text book week after week and completing an exam. Having just completed the infamous Research Methods course the previous semester, jumping in on a hands-on research project was very intimidating. I was the only junior, surrounded by very knowledgeable seniors. At the first class meeting, we listed our weaknesses we had about the course, and strengths we felt we could bring to the table. By the end of the first class, Professor Alison Paglia settled any fears we had and gave us the confidence we needed to look forward to an unforgettable experience.
One thing I really admired about the course (aside from the total absence of exams), was that the students were running the show. The class project was to evaluate the Concord Boys & Girls Club, from the kids’ perspective. Each week, the class met to accomplish project tasks such as constructing a questionnaire, dividing the subjects into age-groups, deciding which students would get which age group, and how we could best evaluate what we needed to find out. No student is ever alone. The professor was there to guide us through and keep the project running smoothly, but for the most part the class was run by the students. Meeting on-site at the Boys and Girls Club was my favorite part of the course. If anything, this was the time and place to be awkward and get practice working with people. You are not graded on your people skills. Looking back, you will be surprised with how much your people skills improve. My group partner and I were able to collect very valuable information, and have a few laughs in the midst of it. This was the point where I discovered my passion for working with teens. Afterwards, the teens said they really enjoyed having me, and suggested I applied to work at the Boys & Girls Club. I took their advice and in a couple weeks I met with the faculty for a job interview. For anybody who feels as terrified or incompetent as I did about doing research, Community Based Research is the perfect course to take. Not only was this course a perfect beginning to my growth as a professional, this experience taught me to never doubt my abilities, and to embrace stepping out of my comfort zone. I gained experience working together as a team, applying myself in a public setting, and get a feel of the research process and the personal rewards that come with it. You have nothing to lose with this course, but everything to gain.
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