Danni Dorn, Project Intern, reviews the Research Day at the University of Reading…
On Friday 11th July, the team from the University of Reading decided to host a research day on campus for both the Whitley Research Team and the Northumberland Training Academy, both of whom the team at the University has built strong partnerships with.
We began the morning with a much-needed coffee and a presentation that Daniel and I had prepared. We decided that it would be nice to begin the day showing the team what life at the University was like and what it was that it had to offer. In the presentation we both spoke about our own experiences with student loans and funding as well as covering every single sports club and society on offer at RUSU. This covered everything from the Rollercoaster Appreciation to Lock Picking to religious-based societies. The presentation sparked much discussion and it was particularly surprising how some parents were not pushing their children into further education because of the perception that it is too expensive for students from low-income households. (This is not true!)
After Daniel and I had given our presentation, we got back on track to discuss the on-going project. Through a series of graph representations, Lorna showed the group the findings from the pilot questionnaire that she had been working on. Whilst there were some really interesting trends and information that were highlighted in this pilot, it also helped us in deciding what to do with the actual questionnaire. We could easily see that we were at risk of data bias as many of those asked were female and of the same age group and this was definitely something to address when we try to fill in the next set of questionnaires. We also were able to conclude that the questionnaire needed to be more concise and that a separate question for supermarkets would give us more insight into public demand.
Sally followed with a discussion on the value of focus group and we were educated on the approaches that can be taken with different group demographics; for example: incentives such as sweets and drawing for younger participants. Focus groups are so valuable as they give you the chance to tell us about what you think we should be focusing on! After the presentations and discussions, the students from NTA were given a tour of the University campus. The students were shown the newly refurbished library, the central part of the campus, the bars and the shops that are available at the Students Union. We hoped this would give them a real feel of life on campus.
From this day we have concluded that more adults need to be more informed on the options for their children. Secondly, we have all been educated on the benefits of focus groups and the statistics behind questionnaires. Finally, we agreed to alter the questionnaire to make it more concise and valuable for our research. Overall we think the day was a success! It was a very insightful experience for everyone and we look forward to organising something similar again soon.
Next week, we are planning to go to NTA for some training with Google Docs, so stay tuned for the update. If you are interested in the project, you can track the latest updates across the social media channels on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you would like to fill in our questionnaire, please click here. We have now also created our own blog and you can find the latest posts on the Big Local Whitley site here, or on our WordPress blog here. We are also looking for residents in Whitley to attend our focus groups, so if you have something to say about transport then please get in contact with us!