11:15 a.m., Dec. 8, 2009----Students and faculty brought more than just a brown-bag lunch to the table last month during a session on international research. Five representatives of the University of Delaware School of Education (SOE) shared valuable information with other students about how to conduct international research and how to access available resources to further research interests.
Education Graduate Association Vice President Jessica Blank coordinated the two-hour panel discussion. “Conversations about international work occur within pockets at SOE,” said Blank. “So it was great to see this community learning about the expansive international experiences of faculty and students outside of their specializations.”
The first panelist was Lindsay Jolley, a student in the school psychology specialist program. She discussed her volunteer work in Ecuador, where she worked with the Ecuador Professional Preparation Program (EPP) in providing mental health services to Ecuadorians in the city of Quito.
The second panelist, Zoubeida Dagher, professor of science education, described her work analyzing 9th grade science textbooks in four Arab countries including Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia. She not only discussed her research questions, but also her collaborative relationships with other researchers whom she worked with to answer these questions.
Scott Richardson, a student in the curriculum inquiry Ph.D. program, discussed his recent trip to China with cohort colleague, Elizabeth Soslau, a cognition, development and instruction Ph.D. student. They are currently collaborating with Wei Qiu at Michigan State University to complete research related to cultural identities.
Special education Ph.D. student Megan Pell discussed her and Scott Richardson's collaborative research project related to Japanese conceptualizations of self-determination. They initially began this research with Seo Jiyoung from Utsunomiya University in Japan though international research funds from the School of Education and the Office of International Studies.
Finally, Alan Smith, a student in the curriculum, technology, and higher education Ed.D. program, described his extensive international traveling, which included trips to every continent through a network of professional and personal relationships. He provided insightful reflections on particular trips he took as well as practical advice for students looking to travel on a budget.
During the discussion, students and faculty made several recommendations to students interested in conducting international research and traveling abroad:
- Study your countries of interest very carefully before traveling and/or conducting research. When you demonstrate a willingness to better understand the language or cultural norms in a country, people in that country seem to greatly appreciate your efforts.
- Seek multiple perspectives or voices while visiting another country. Asking questions throughout your trip will help you to confirm, challenge, and/or extend the observations you are making while abroad.
- Prepare for unexpected changes in your research design and questions once you actually start conducting your research on-site in another country. If you are flexible and positive while working abroad, you are in a better position to identify and utilize spontaneous research opportunities.
- Create your own social and professional networks to support your research/travel interests before, during, and after your visits abroad. Social networks can help you locate more affordable housing while abroad. Your professional networks can help you pick reliable international research partners for collaboration which will make your research abroad more pleasant and professionally rewarding.
Panel participants stressed that traveling abroad and conducting international research are important and exciting opportunities that should be explored. Although financial concerns are usually associated with these activities, panel members explained to the audience that funds can be found to support interests if students are resourceful.
“Where there is a will, there's a way,” reminded Jolley.
Graduate students who are interested in traveling and/or conducting international research are encouraged to visit the University of Delaware Graduate and Professional Education Web site for more information regarding the 2010 International Research Fellowships.