• The research report: The setting of the study

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    EARLIER we wrote on how during this March, so associated with graduation, students in their senior or fifth year are pressed for time to finish writing a research report, which usually is the required capstone of one’s major study area. We mentioned several causes of why oftentimes students do not seem to be conversant of what exactly should be the description of the setting of the study – which are – procrastination in doing course requirements (such as fun with social media), attention of research mentors competing with teaching overloads. Perhaps also a crowded curriculum, nonetheless within the bounds of academic freedom, but reducing time for meaningful connections among disciplines fostering inter-7disciplinarity. These circumstances are not beyond solutions.

    We have to prove equal to such problems; that being quite above our typical brethren academic wise, (the typical Filipino is not a university student but could likely a fourth-grade dropout) we can push aside these stumbling blocks and smoothen the rough path to high-quality education. Let’s try to imbue in our charges a passion for scholarship that shall set them and us academics at par, or more advanced, than similar communities across borders are, especially that Asean integration hovers over our respective campuses here in Mindanao.

    For its Chapter 2 Methodology, Setting of the Study, a research on the extent and quality of services in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of a private tertiary hospital in a certain city described the location of the hospital, tourist attractions, population, the staple products, the hospital as being a tertiary hospital, the common diseases treated in the hospital, hospital charges and the specialized units, one being an ICU.

    In its simplest form, research is a systematic search for the information or answer to a research problem. Thus in designing the research study, the student decides what the appropriate setting is to collect the appropriate research data to find out what the study wants to find out. The research report describes this setting, as it could have influenced “the way participants behaved or felt” and how they responded to questions (Polit & Hungler 1995:142). The setting of the study provides the reader the context or background of what was to be “searched,” and how this setting had influenced the responses to the researcher’s questionnaire/s or interviews. “Context implies the conditions and situations of an event.” A well-described background allows the reader to better understand “the full context within which the informants function.” <http://uir.unisa.ac.za/bitstream/ handle/10500/129 6/03chapter2.pdf/> Thus, in describing the setting of the study on how patients perceive the quality of services in a hospital’s ICU, the student researcher need not dwell on the tourist sites nor the staple products of the city where the hospital is located, unless these, not remotely, influence the setting of the study – that is, influenced the responses of the respondents – in this case, the patients in the ICU or had been ICU patients of the said hospital.

    ICUs are designed to deliver the highest of medical and nursing care to the seriously sick patients. Depending on the sophistication or level of the hospital, there would be several specialized intensive care units.

    Whichever is the case, a helpful description of the setting of the study could include whether the hospital’s ICU is specialized (cardiothoracic, coronary, neurosurgical, neo-natal or new-born, high dependency, etc.); whether the hospital is a referral and if so, the kind of cases that have been referred and treated, the volume of patients, the availability of resources – doctors and nurses and their specialties and the technology (hard and soft). Hard means the infra – the ICU areas, the equipment; soft means the procedures and techniques that go with the specialty of the ICU and corresponding practice and policy, etc.

    The researcher should be able to choose research-setting aspects, which, as described, would make the findings highly understandable to readers. A sample study of a research on the extent of community involvement of a hospital available in this interlink (there are such others in the web) would enlighten nursing student researchers on conducting a similar health-related research http://uir.unisa.ac.za/bitstream /handle/10500/1296/03 chapter2.pdf->.

    Another study I came across, aimed to find out what factors significantly determined the consistently high scores of students in a particular licensure exam. The student-researcher wrote a brief history of the university and zeroed in on the enrolment history of the college that offers the degree program corresponding to the licensure. More meaningful to the readers would be a description of the academic policy and college practices – from recruitment, admission, promotion, retention, graduation and post-graduation, including shepherding students for their licensure review; whether admission, promotion, retention and graduation is open or selective or a combination of these. If relevant, one may also describe the academic and personal counseling and other mediating mechanisms to foster student learning and commitment to do well. Describe, too, the formal and experiential qualifications of the academics of the respondents of the study, the facilities (library, laboratories), their accessibility to the students, the curricular requirements, etc. These provide readers more understanding of the setting of the study, especially if these are factors composing variables in the study. The choice of elements in the research setting should have been decided during the proposal stage.

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    Teresita Tanhueco-Tumapon, PhD, is one of the Philippines’ most accomplished educators and experts on institutional management in colleges and universities. Her studies have included not only education and pedagogy but also literature, general science and history.

    She has studied not only in the topmost universities in the Philippines but also in Germany, Great Britain and Japan. She headed chartered institutions; was vice-president for academics and for external relations and internationalization of Liceo de Cagayan University (in Cagayan de Oro City). She is editor and copy editor of Liceo’s journals and a professorial lecturer in Liceo’s Graduate Studies. She holds a Lifetime Professional Achievement Award from the central office of the CHED.

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    1. Ask the PUP students (who were in the 80’s at the Lepanto campus-like the Accounting, Economics and Business majors – to name a few Lillia Garcia, Annie Maralag, an Inquirer writer with an Economics major-forgot her name, Anita Ponce) who was the Professor in Math(Statistics) that initiated the requirement of having a thesis and to be defended to a group of professors. It is only now that all universities are requiring this requirement for graduation. But in reality, the Math(Statistics) Professor at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in the 80’s never got any recognition to initiate such requirement.