Project Update: Examining the Effects of Volunteering on Cognitive Functions

My primary initial goal for the early summer weeks was to finish the first round of interviews by mid-June. However, attracting the last few participants proved to be a more difficult task than I had expected. After a CMU alumnus connected me with a representative from another Pittsburgh organization, I was able to schedule the remaining participants for interviews during the week of the 16th. If all goes well, I will complete the first round of interviews by June 20th (only one week behind schedule).

Read the Project Description Here

Accordingly, the most valuable resources for my work have been the organizations from which most of my participants have come from (i.e., the Osher programs at CMU and Pitt, and AgeWell Pittsburgh). These organizations have advertised my study to their members, and as a result, close to (if not more than) 40 of my 50 participants were members of one of these organizations.

As I continued to work independently on my project, I was most surprised by the range of existing research about volunteering. I have read an article about volunteerism’s effect on fMRI-measured brain activity as well as articles about volunteerism’s effects on generic aspects of well-being. As I begin to write the introduction of my Senior Thesis, I will draw upon this literature as a foundation of my own research.

Recently, my workdays have been structured around any scheduled interviews. If interviews were scheduled for the morning, I would spend the morning interviewing participants and entering the interview data into SPSS, then the afternoon reading and outlining articles (and the opposite would be true if interviews were scheduled for the afternoon).

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