In 2014, I completed a research practicum within the Faculty of Social Work with Christine Walsh. In 2015, I researched academic literature and data and made recommendations on policy for the Education Development Management Unit of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States. Major learnings involved research, policy and community development.
During my research practicum, I participated in and learned about the following components of academic research:
• Literature Review
During my international practicum, I studied the issues and wrote the first draft of a funding proposal for a participatory research study.
In both practicums, I was able to recognize errors and gaps in data. I also recognize that I am not a statistician and that I need to work with people more knowledgeable to find solutions for those errors and gaps. In my first practicum, we were using the wrong formulas to appropriately compare data for the scales used. In the international practicum, I noticed discrepancies and holes in data and recommended better ways of visualizing data to better represent the findings. In the second case, more research and data collection is required to more fully look at the structures affecting education outcomes in the Caribbean.
Research presents evidence and evidence is vital to creating and implementing good policy. In both programs, I worked on research that could be used for policy. In the international practicum, my analysis of data and academic literature will be used to create effective policy meant to improve education outcomes for young people in ten Caribbean countries.
The research projects in my first practicum involved collection and analysis of community interviews and community meetings. My international practicum included youth focus groups and community meetings before and after the five-week program to prevent sexual exploitation. I also participated in a multilateral conference with education and union leaders from nine Caribbean countries.
In the former meetings, community was pivotal to academic research. In the latter, the meetings were important for facilitator learnings and for building project ownership.
“Structural social work is concerned with the ways in which the rich and powerful in society define and constrain the poor and the less powerful” (Moreau, 1979, p. 78).