Building Research Competencies: My Research Journey

I aspire to inspire, help, educate and elevate young children and their families.  However, as the political climate surrounding topics like immigration takes center stage in our country, bad politics, cultural incompetence, and discrimination has been experienced by young immigrant children and their families.  This issue has fueled my research topic. The area of research that I wish to explore is immigrant stressors and their impact on child development in children. I divided my subtopics into three sub-topics:

  1. The stressors that are present in the lives of immigrant families and children.
  2. The impact of traumatic stress on cognitive development.
  3. The ways that early childhood professionals can best support immigrant children and families who experience stress.

In today’s American political climate fathers and mothers are being separated and deported from their families.  In my classroom, a father walked his young 4-year-old daughter to school and was arrested by immigration and customs enforcement (ICE).  The father was ultimately separated from his family and deported back to his home country.  This torn family is now missing a father, breadwinner, and a husband.  In addition, this immigrant family has been left to support themselves without any resources to help them overcome this traumatic experience.  Moreover, not only did this immigrant family lose a father figure but they have also lost financial steadiness and emotional stability.  Unfortunately, this family is just one of the thousands of immigrant families in America facing this plight every day.  As early childhood professionals, we must be aware of this issue that immigrant families and children are facing. Many young immigrant children and families are experiencing toxic stress which can destabilize their psychosocial and cognitive development.

In the past, I have been intimidated by the thought of conducting my own research.  I initially thought that research would be an overwhelming task because of the amount of reading, researching, and sifting of data that an individual must do to support their hypothesis. Thankfully, I have learned a few key skills in reading some of these complex research studies and reports. The first skill that has completely changed my approach and fear to conducting research, is being able to sift through key research data quickly.  Reading the literature review and focusing on the last few lines where the researcher indicates what their intended hypothesis will be, saves readers time as to determine whether or not this research serves their quest for the right information to support their topic of interest Lepuschitz, 2011). Checking the participants in the research to gather whether the target group fits the needs of an individuals research quest also saves time (Lepuschitz, 2011).  Imagine reading a great article on the effects of economic hardship on cognitive development, only to find out the participants were college students totally wastes valuable time.  The last skill I feel has quelled my research fears is learning the skills of determining whether or not the sources are credible enough to use in your research.  It is important to maintain the integrity of an viable information when conducting research. Ensuring that whatever sources are used in research are from credible sources like national organizations, authors who are recognized in the field and have professional credentials related to the study are pertinent to research(Ormondroyd, Engle, & Cosgrave, 2009).

One question for my colleagues I would have is where do I get the best research on undocumented immigrant children and their family?

References:

Lepuschitz, J.K. (2011). A practical guide to reading research articles. Laureate Education, Inc., Baltimore, MD.

Ormondroyd, J., Engle, E., & Cosgrave, T. (2009). Critically analyzing information sources. Retrieved from Cornell University Library

 

 

 

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