Having done Society and Culture in high school, I already had prior experience with designing and carrying out primary research before starting BCM212. However, there was still much more to learn from this class that I had not expected. I feel as though BCM212 allowed me to refine the way I design my research questions, surveys, and conduct group interviews. This time around, there was a big focus on ethical practice and careful, deliberate choices when choosing methods of research. The most pleasing outcome of this class is that I think that the skills learnt will be applicable in many future classes across all different faculties, as research is the basis of many academic pursuits.
Choosing a topic for this subject was difficult as I was considering many options and could not narrow down my focus. I still believe my topic was far too broad in the end, as I struggled to find a specific point to focus on for my opinion piece. Next time I’m conducting research, I’ll aim to refine my point of interest into a more specific, niche question. However, the topic of alcohol consumption did provide many opportunities for maturing my research skills. There were more ethical practices to consider with alcohol being a mind-altering substance, and I was prompted to ensure my participants were comfortable and properly represented.
I was especially proud of the research I designed for this topic. I used a survey to obtain basic, quantitative information about my topic, which would later be complimented by qualitative data obtained in a group interview. Using Likert scales in the survey was something new for me, and I enjoyed being able to see a visual/statistical spread of student’s general opinions to later inform the way I designed my interview questions. The group interview was conducted concisely, and the participants were not only comfortable but enthusiastic to discuss the topic. Their opinions on binge-drinking and alcohol as part of the student experience helped me to later construct my opinion piece. Overall, the only hiccup in my research design would be the final question of my survey; “Drinking alcohol in the context of University has impacted my overall well-being (positively and/or negatively). Agree, Disagree, Unsure?”. Only the ‘agree’ option would direct participants to the next page, where there is an open-ended question about the impacts of alcohol on well-being. Looking back, I should have removed this step entirely and only had the open-ended question, because most students missed this final page by selecting ‘disagree’ or ‘unsure’. As a result, I lost a lot of potential qualitative data.