Summer Research Hurdles & Success

Haduch 2Moving forward, my plan is to spend Fall 2016 coding and analyzing the data I have collected throughout my time as a University Honors Scholar. One might think transcribing language samples would be a walk in the park, however there was an immense amount of time that was put into the transcribing process. When transcribing these language samples there were specific utterance guidelines to follow. An hour-long language sample could take an easy full day to transcribe. With that said, an average language sample was around 16 pages long depending on the participant’s mood and energy on the given day.

Throughout this process, I was surprised at the amount of work each stage in our research entailed. I have learned that research is a lot harder then it sounds; even the best-laid plans can go awry every so often. We have found you have to deal with whatever is thrown at you and keep moving forward, while simultaneously being very careful not to compromise the integrity of the research plan.  For example, one Saturday there was a new
nurse on staff that went to get one of our three participants. The nurse asked the participant if she wanted to come paint and she said no because she doesn’t know how toresearch hurdles paint. The nurse simply walked away and told us she doesn’t want to participate today. We found that when asking the participant in a different way such as do you want to come
spend time with us, she was willing to consent and enjoyed her time.  Another example of pushing through research difficulties is when our flash drive crashed three fourths of the way through our summer. Luckily we had everything backed up, however we had to move past that and continue with our data collection.

Although there is no cure to dementia by definition, there are various ways to augment quality of life for those who are affected. We have seen first hand that something as simple as taking the time to engage in a thoughtful conversation and reminiscing about the past can make a significant difference.

My professor, her graduate assistant, and I will be contributing to the existing literature base about working with individuals with dementia. There are many publications endorsing the arts as a means to maximizing aspects of quality of life, however there are very few studies that have attempted to investigate this from a purely empirical standpoint. This study is a huge undertaking; our hope is to have important ramifications for other facilities looking to best serve their clients/residents.

by Megan Haduch

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