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oral defense: research
Terms in this set (13)
How did your initial exploration of the scholarly conversation lead to your final research question/project goal?
Initially when I looked into the scholarly conversation regarding the broader topic of corporal punishment in the home in Singapore, I came across a lot of more general studies, for instance a paper called Public Perceptions of Child Abuse and Neglect in Singapore, which looked at many different forms of corporal punishment and surveyed Singaporeans on whether or not they believed each one to be abuse. However, in studies such as these I didn't see a focus on any particular form of corporal punishment. Caning was usually included in these scholarly conversations which was interesting to me because it was more foreign to me than other forms of corporal punishment.
I then made the choice to focus on just caning for my final research question because of this gap that I found within the scholarly conversation, as I wasn't seeing a lot of discussion on specifically caning itself; it was only included in broader conversations.
How did your review of the methods used by scholars in the field inform your selection of a research method/process that is aligned with your research question/project goal?
One method used by scholars that I was drawn to was the method used in Public Perceptions of Child Abuse and Neglect in Singapore. In this study, researchers from the Singapore Childrens Society interviewed almost 400 participants across Singapore and asked them if they deemed different forms of corporal punishment abuse or not. I used interviews as well after looking at this study, but what really interested me was the fact that they adopted a analysis method that used something called a negative consensus, so depending on how many participants said a particular form of corporal punishment was abuse, they would rate each form of punishment as a high negative consensus, a moderate negative consensus, and a low negative consensus. I ended up using this same analysis method because I wanted to be able to see how negative each participants' attitude was towards the different reasons for caning children, since attitudes are a huge part of my research question.
How did the choices you made when designing or implementing your research method impact your research process?
One choice I made when designing my research question was to examine the difference between the attitudes of an older generation of Chinese Singaporeans and a younger generation of Chinese Singaporeans towards the use of caning in the home. This impacted my research project because it meant I was examining two cohorts which required me to use a two part method containing a survey followed by interviews. I felt that the only way to accurately represent the attitudes of these two cohorts was to have two different sections of my method which is why I made this choice.
How did you determine which results generated by your research method were most important in informing your new understanding?
Since I didn't gather that many results, the few that I did gather actually created my new understanding when I came to the realization that the reason I was unable to gather many responses were because Chinese-Singaporeans are currently not very open to talk about disciplining or caning their children. Had I gathered more responses, my new understanding would have been completely different. Essentially, I chose to use all of my results to inform my new understanding because I gathered so few.
How does your new understanding address a gap in the scholarly conversation?
When I was first researching my topic of caning, the gap I found in the scholarly conversation was studies focusing on the opinions of parents on caning or caning in the home in particular within Singapore. I found different studies from various East Asian and Southeast Asian countries on physical discipline in general, but I found few to none about caning in particular. My new understanding that many Chinese-Singaporeans are not open to discussing the topic of caning yet addressed this gap because it shows that Chinese-Singaporeans attitudes towards caning are still very private and there is a stigma around this topic. Previous research had not addressed this to my knowledge, therefore this new understanding addresses the gap on caning in the home.
How did the limitations of your method or data influence your new understanding?
One of the major limitations that I touched on: lack of responses
This limitation informed my new understanding that Chinese-Singaporeans are currently not very open to talk about disciplining or caning their children, since I was unable to gather responses regarding this topic. Initially, I was wondering why I could find people to fill my survey out even after reaching out to so many different organizations, but I then came to the understanding that this was because there is still a stigma around this topic. Although this limitation was frustrating, it was how I came to understand that Chinese-Singaporeans are not keen on discussing the topic of caning or physically disciplining their children quite yet.
What are the real-world implications or consequences related to your findings?
Although I believe Singapore has done a lot to make sure children are protected from abuse, one of the real world implications of my findings is that there is a stigma around this topic. This means that people who are being abused or are seeing someone else be abused may be less likely to report it. In my research, I found that researchers estimate that many unreported cases of child abuse still remain. My findings back up this claim if I make the assumption that if Chinese-Singaporeans are not super open to talking about caning, then they are also not as likely to report it if it becomes child abuse.
How do your findings provide directions for future research in the field?
One of my findings was that there is a stigma around the topic of caning. In order to protect children in the future, further research should be done to find out what creates this stigma. Different countries and cultures have different opinions about what constitutes abuse, so it's important for each and every country to determine where they believe the line should be drawn when it comes to crafting legislation. In Singapore, this could be done by possibly surveying younger Singaporeans and asking them abou their parents stances towards corporal punishment to get to the root of the stigma.
Think back to the initial curiosity that sparked your inquiry. What other curiosities do you have and how has this process prepared you to explore them?
The initial curiosity that sparked my interest in this topic was quite a bit different than what I ended up researching. I was initially interested in looking at the different crimes committed in Singapore over several years to see if there were any patterns that would be interesting to look into. Unfortunately, I quickly realized that information such as that is not readily available to just anyone, and I wasn't able to access the data that I needed. However, one crime in particular that interested me when reading about different crimes committed in Singapore recently were child abuse crimes. Since child abuse can take many different forms, I decided to focus on caning in particular since it wasn't something I knew a lot about. Another curiosity I would love to explore based on this topic is caning in a judicial setting, since my research focused on caning within the home. My research process will help me explore this topic because I have become very familiar with the literature on caning within Singapore. Since I already have significant knowledge about the topic of caning in Singapore, it wouldn't be too difficult to make a lateral shift towards researching caning as punishment for crimes.
How did you handle the uncertainty of the research process?
The main uncertainty I faced was with my trouble gathering responses for my survey. At a certain point in the research process, I was uncertain that I was going to get a single response. I handled this by making sure I did everything in my power to get responses, so I didn't feel like there was something more I could've done. I called and emailed about twenty nursing homes and community centers and when that didn't work, I visited community centers around Singapore to hand my survey out in person. This allowed me to ensure that I was doing everything possible to collect data in order to conduct my interviews. This also helped me grow as a researcher since I was faced with a tough scenario and had to overcome it. If I ever research in the future, I know that I will be able to be persistent in data collection even if I have to speak to people in person.
If you could revisit your research process, what would you do differently and why?
If I could revisit my research process, I would find a way to combine the two different parts of my method. The method I used was necessary to answer my research question but my research process would have been a lot easier if I could've just focused on one cohort. Since I had trouble getting responses from older Chinese-Singaporeans using the survey, I had to spend less time on interviews since the interviews were contingent on the survey. If I had one section of the method, I could've just focused on gathering data from one cohort instead of worrying about two, which would've eliminated a lot of stress and difficulty.
What was the most important research skill you developed as a result of this process, and how might you apply it to your future endeavors?
One skill that I developed as a result of the research process was the ability to be persistent in data collection. I anticipate that I will go on to do more research in university or perhaps even in jobs in the future, and the ability to be able to speak to adults and make calls and send formal emails to people who hold positions of authority will be very helpful in this process. I know that should I ever struggle to collect data in the future, I will have the skills necessary to follow through with participants.
How did your expert adviser facilitate your deeper understanding of the research process?
My expert adviser was Professor Cheung from Yale NUS. Her research focuses on parental practices and child development researched, which aligned well with my topic of corporal punishment within the home. I went to her for a lot of advice on my research process, including how to approach the topic of caning with older Chinese Singaporeans who may not be open about the topic. One piece of advice that she gave me was to have my form translated to conversational Mandarin by a native Chinese speaker, which I ended up doing. This will allow it to be more accessible to the general population of older Chinese Singaporeas. If it hadn't been for Professor Cheung, I may not have gotten as thorough responses from participants who were not as comfortable with reading English. This allowed me to facilitate a deeper understanding of the research process because it helped me navigate some of the obstacles that I faced as a western outsider who did not speak Chinese.
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