A Mini-Research Project

I attended a seminar about the fluidity of sexuality presented by Robyn Ochs, an award-winning speaker, activist and educator. I have to be honest, this was one of the most interactive and interesting seminars I have attended because we did not sit in our seats and listen to Robyn speak for an hour, she had us participating and actively engaged in the topic of sexuality. During an introduction to her presentation, Robyn explained that sexuality exists on a spectrum and then announced that we would be conducting a mini-research project during our time together. Robyn handed out a survey that had numbers ranging from 0 to 6 (0 representing opposite sex attracted and 6 representing same sex attracted) at the top and then had eight questions that corresponded with the 0 to 6 spectrum. I am currently taking Dr. Holly Raffle’s MPA 6010 Research Methods a Voinovich School class in which we are learning about the different types of research studies and all the aspects that go into performing research projects, so Robyn’s activity was very interesting because I was able to apply the theories I am being taught in class.

Robyn’s mini-research project would be considered a one-shot case study, which means that we performed our survey and then assessed the data without looking at any pre- test or post-test information. An extremely important aspect of every study is to ensure your participants’ confidentiality and anonymity. When Robyn introduced the survey everyone had to use blue or black ink, we could not put our names on them, we had to all sit in separate areas of the room to fill out our survey and when we were done all our surveys were put into a pile on the floor. Robyn also made sure we understood that if we did not feel comfortable participating we did not have to, you could simply throw a blank sheet into the pile. These measures insured that we felt comfortable our confidentiality would be protected and we were able to remain anonymous if we did not feel that we wanted to participate.

The most interesting part of our mini-research study was interpreting the data. Robyn laid out numbers from 0 to 6 across the back of the conference room and asked us all to randomly pick a paper from the floor and go stand on the number that corresponded to the first question. As we discussed the questions everyone moved to the numbers that matched the data we were in charge of expressing. By the end of all the questions some people had moved all over the spectrum, some had moved a little and others had not moved at all from the number they were standing on. While I understand that our little mini-project has internal validity issues due to the fact that all of the participants had voluntary attended the seminar due to interest in the subject matter (called selection bias), Robyn’s message about the fluidity of sexuality was played out interactively in front of us as we watched the participants bring the data to life. Thanks to my semester in Dr. Raffle’s class I have been able to think critically about the information presented at the seminar.

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