Currently, we have finished all of our reading. We are working on categorizing all of the information that we have by topic, so it is easier to refer back once we start drafting our paper. Dr. Zaslow is creating an outline for the literature review. We already have a finalized version of our outline and now have a clearer version of how we want to structure the paper and then we will begin to draft the literature review.
We created a list of information needed from other universities (who is eligible to apply, who is accepted, what do students get (certificate, etc.), who runs the program, what is their compensation, what does the program entail (meeting, courses, mentorship, etc.), has there been an assessment, what are the best practices, what data to they have to demonstrate success?). I also created an Excel sheet to organize all of the contact information, as well as a new document with our findings from the information provided by program directors.
After contacting different universities, I have found a pattern:
- Most leadership programs for women ranges between 1 year-4 year in duration
- They often require coursework that is specific to their program, most of them being Women and Gender Studies courses
- Most programs place a great emphasis on activism and community
- The average amount of students accepted per year is between 18-30
- Most programs do have an application process that often requires essays to be submitted, some have interviews as well.
There is a lot of initiative embedded in the project. Besides doing research, I am also taking 18 credits this semester, so I had to find a balance between regular coursework and time to complete tasks for the research. Since this is not a class, I do not have a set day and time to work on the research but I do try to allocate a significant amount of time to the project. It does vary from week to week, depending on how demanding schoolwork is, but it is an average of 2-4 hrs each week. Upon conducting the literature review, I have learned the importance of classifying the information ahead of time, and plan a system before the research even starts.
When it comes about problem-solving, my faculty mentor and I tend to express our points of view and then settle as to what would work best for both of us. It is my first time doing research and Dr. Zaslow is always making sure that I feel comfortable and ready to take the next step and move further into the process. I do appreciate that she discusses all matters with me (such as to how we should categorize information), because it doesn’t make me feel like a research assistant but as a researcher. We pretty much work on every step together but we also like to divide up work if it is more efficient, making communication key in the process. Communication with my faculty mentor is easy. Most of the time it is through email. She does email me back within 24 hrs and I try to do the same as well. I also created a separate folder in my email that is dedicated for emails related to the research only. It helps me keep track of what needs to be done and which emails I have to respond to.
In the process we have faced the following challenges:
- Continuing the research process and not losing the momentum during the winter break; I was in the Dominican Republic so it was very challenging to stay on schedule.
- My faculty mentor and I have different schedules so in-person meetings can be a little challenging. We often have the in-person meetings to update each other and discuss our next times. However, I do know that if I needed her help, she is always willing to schedule a quick meeting with me to address my concerns or just to provide support.
But we have also had our successes:
- At the beginning of the semester, Dr. Zaslow created a project schedule with a timeline. I am very proud to say that we did not fall behind schedule regardless of the winter break and our different schedules.
- I became more organized as a result of this project and do not feel anxious anymore when facing long term projects.
- As the end of the semester approaches, Dr. Zaslow has provided me with all the support I need in terms of successfully completing this project.