Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Welcome Back! Looking ahead to Fall 2010 Seminar

To my many, many incoming CJ_4600/Senior Seminar students:

Welcome to the course! I look forward to meeting all of you in just over a month. Some of you I already know, either from Research Methods or another course. In any case, welcome, welcome, welcome.

Two words: don't worry.

Senior Seminar is the course many students dread. Why? It's a lot of work. You probably haven't done anything like this - execute a research study - before. You've heard horror stories from other students.

I'll try and reassure you - it'll be fine. Really. You'll live through it. There will be a lot of you, but I try to give each student about 30 minutes of one-on-one time throughout the semester.

Let me give you a quick picture of the shape of the semester. The first four weeks are spent gearing up to submit your research proposals. If you haven't done so already, you'll take Kean IRB's human subjects protection course and submit to me your course completion certificate. You'll also do a series of in-class and homework exercises that will give you a feel for the various research methods you'll have the option of using for your study. By about week five of the course you'll submit to me your research proposal.

Very Important Point: While this proposal will undoubtely be similar to the proposal you submitted in CJ_3675, it will not be identical to that proposal. CJ_4600 is a different course. You'll need to revise your CJ_3675 proposal to fit the requirements of CJ_4600. We'll go over this more in class. This is just a heads-up.

I typically grade the proposals in about a week, then return them to the students. You'll either be Approved to Begin, Approved-With-Revisions to Begin, or Not Approved. For the non-approved students, you'll have a week to fix the problems and then you'll meet with me again to explain what you did. By about the 7th or 8th week in the semester, everyone should have begun their data gathering.

By about the 10th or 11th week in the semester, the entire class goes to the computer lab to begin data entry and preliminary analyses. In my experience, this is when most students need a lot of hand-holding from the professor. I will get to each and every one of you, and only ask that you remember that there's only one of me and 25 of you in every class. So just be patient. I'll get to you, I promise.

By week 13 or 14, the final papers are due. During the last two classes, students present their findings to their fellow classmates and me. I'll send everyone a template powerpoint presentation to use as a model for their own slides.

One final point, which you'll probably hear me say in class too - everything I'm asking you to do, I've done myself. Proposal writing - check. Surveys and focus groups - check. Content analysis - check. Analyzing existing databases - check. This summer I'm doing both a content analysis and analyzing data from an existing database. I wouldn't ask you to do anything that I myself didn't have a hands-on feel for, if that's any consolation.

In a nutshell, that's it. I promise you'll survive and move on to graduation. And if you have any plans to attend graduate school (hello, Kean MA in CJ program, having done an original research study like what you'll do in CJ_4600 will help your application. If you like doing the kinds of research work we'll do in Seminar, then graduate school might be for you.

Enjoy the rest of your summer, and I'll see you in September.


Dr. Hassett-Walker

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