Monday, February 20, 2017

Federal Work-Study student Shawn Pham Hopes to Find A Change In Adult Behavioral Patterns

To make a social difference through the world of research is an area that I have always been interested in. Throughout my educational career, I have been gaining technical writing skills and wanted to use those skills for a purpose. I wanted to make a change in the world through the skills I learned and when the weekly social work emails came out with an opportunity to become an undergraduate research assistant, I eagerly applied.

Every week, I worked on the assigned tasks with my supervisor. Since most of the qualitative data collecting was done over the summer, we mostly transcribed the audio files, quality checked them, and then coded them. Through inputting data into our database, we hope to find a change in behavioral patterns among older adults with dementia after coding the music listening sessions through our Music and Memory and Dementia Care research projects. Through these two research projects, we strive to understand the effects of music with the older adults with dementia population. Learning the effects of music on this demographic could potentially assist the treatment plan for mitigating the symptoms of dementia.  By doing this research, we are shaping the future of social work policy for caregiving plans for this population. Here in this little, yet lively office of Social Work integrative Research Lab, we are making progress in macro social work in order to make a change in policy and practice.

We are making a change in a different way from what most social work undergraduates imagine their careers to be like. Most social work majors see their career primarily in micro social work, focusing on the individual and group, while in research social work, it focuses on general populations by shaping policy that micro social workers follow. Being in SWIRL, I understand how the policies that I must follow as a future social worker are made and why they are necessary. Through research, social workers can become effective advocates for change.