Over the summer, I will continue to recruit and interview participants until 50 older adults have been interviewed in total. Then, I will run preliminary analyses on the data acquired from this first set of interviews. I will also develop and implement a procedure to code the volunteer responses in preparation for in-depth analyses (e.g., categorizing the responses). All of this will contribute to the design of the second interviews. Toward the end of the summer, I will begin the second set of interviews (of the same people from the first interviews) and write the introduction to my Honors Thesis; to accomplish this, I will further research the existing literature pertaining to the effects of volunteering and social participation/interactions on health outcomes, specifically cognitive functioning.
Since the first four weeks of the summer will be primarily spent finishing up the interviews and running preliminary analyses on the data, the only physical resource I will work with is the interview room. In terms of personnel, the participants could be considered a resource, as well as my advisor, Dr. Vicki Helgeson.
Regarding the summer work, I am most excited about being able to focus on my research without having to balance it with the stresses of academic coursework.
As I get started, I am somewhat anxious about the preliminary data findings. I know it will only be correlational data, but I’m afraid to see no positive correlation between time spent volunteering and greater health outcomes (cognitive functioning, specifically).
This summer’s work will be different than any of my previous experiences at Carnegie Mellon University. This is the first major independent research project I have undertaken as an undergraduate. Again, I have not been able to focus completely on research without having to worry about academics, so this summer fellowship is most different in this regard.