Reflecting on my summer research during the pandemic

Researching during the pandemic wasn't easy. Here are some of my thoughts on my research process.

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During the summer holiday, I researched how the impact of digital literacy can affect the social wellbeing of older adults during Covid-19. To conduct my research, I contacted several people above the age of 60 in London and virtually visited a couple of care homes based in the North East. I aim to develop an understanding of how older adults cope with the COVID situation and whether they feel engaged through online media, even during self-isolation.   

The research process was a lot more intensive than I thought. With the help of my supervisor, I gathered over eight hours of interview recording, analysed the transcription using open thematic analysis, and categorised the data into five main themes, 26 sub-themes and over 100 thematic codes. This was a slow but steady processI carried out the analysis intending to publish the results in a peer-reviewed journal, and thus critically evaluating each step of the thematic analysis became extremely important. The work at this stage was quite repetitive with various technical difficulties I needed to overcome. Resilience became my motto.   

Besides academic research, the leadership training sessions were fun and interactive. The talks covered a range of fascinating and useful topics which assisted my leadership development in the real world. For example, I learnt how to conduct risk assessments and communicate with people effectively. The training sessions provided a lot more than just “training” my leadership skills. They guided me on how to build a successful career path and to increase my competency in the globalising job market.   

Last but not least, the scholarship led me to rethink about my career, or in other words, what I want to achieve in my life. The summer research experience this year caused me to reflect on the purpose of my higher education. How could I convert my degree in Education and Psychology into something meaningful for society? I aim to answer myself by the end of this academic year.   

Ellen Yang

Research Scholar, Durham University

An Education Studies students at Durham University. My research is based on the how digital literacies can affect the social wellbeing of the older generations. I am particularly interested in the education for the elderlies as I believe education can benefit all individuals, not just the younger generations.

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