Reflection A: Putting Your Research Into Context

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  • 7/31/2019 Reflection A: Putting Your Research Into Context

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    Jackie Ader 1

    REFLECTION A: Putting your Research into Context

    PART I: Describe and explain your research project.

    The research project I am working on this semester is called Project MENTOR. Project

    MENTOR is a collaborative effort between Chicago State University (the lead institution),

    Loyola University Chicago, University of Illinois Chicago, Chicago Department of Family

    Support Services, and Hyde Park Academy High School. The Project MENTOR program began

    in Summer, 2010, offering its services to approximately 40 African American Hyde Park

    Academy High School freshman. Project MENTOR is an effort focused on the development,implementation, and evaluation of a health-focused, intensive positive youth development

    program, and is primarily interested in identifying ways by which such a program can positively

    impact youth at environmental and personal risk. The study follows a randomized research

    design in which 40 youth are a part of the program and 40 are part of a comparison group in

    order to increase the reliability of measured program effects.

    The program is geared towards addressing the many challenges faced by minority

    adolescents in urban, low-income communities. Adolescence is a difficult, stressful time for

    everyone, but in this type of vulnerable environment adolescents are more likely to experience

    violence, parental separation or absence, poor nutrition, increased health risks, and lack of

    physical activity (Miller et al. 2007; Merton et al. 2009). Project MENTOR has taken the

    initiative to intervene in the Woodlawn community in an effort to reduce high risk behaviors

    related to these negative experiences and strengthen protective or resiliency factors in order to

    empower these adolescents to succeed in life. When youth and their families have access to

    appropriate supports and services, tailored to their specific circumstances and needs, resilience is

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    fostered and healthy transitions from adolescence into adulthood can occur even in these

    vulnerable environments (National Research Council Institute of Medicine, 2002). Thus, the

    Project MENTOR program encompasses a wide range of support resources and services to assist

    the youth and families in this community.

    The multi-dimensional program offered by Project MENTOR includes individualized

    case-management services, group mentoring focused on building life skills, one-on-one

    mentoring with college students, recreational and health-promotion activities, academic tutoring,

    guidance for career and college exploration, and media and community-based research training

    (DuBois et al., 2010). Participating youth receive case management, including risk-screeningassessments and service referrals. The case managers are available 24/7 and work to integrate

    families into the program. The group mentoring sessions focus on personal and collective

    accountability, emotional development, positive relationship building, critical thinking skills,

    healthy diet and physical activity, conflict resolution, and community engagement.

    At the core of the Project Mentor program is the one-on-one mentoring component.

    Through this part of the program, the student participants are paired with adult volunteers

    recruited from Chicago universities and the local community to provide them with positive adult

    relationships. The students receive fitness coaching and assistance with healthy lifestyle

    planning. This aspect of the program is primarily run through Loyola University Chicago.

    In addition to the development of a mentoring relationship with an adult volunteer,

    students are offered sports opportunities, such as running in a 5K race, and academic tutoring on

    a weekly basis. Lastly, students participate in participatory action research projects through

    which they learn leadership skills by researching, documenting, and presenting information

    related to health and well-being in their community. This project is unique in its objective to,

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    research question much sooner, but I am not sure how accurate or effective this more rushed,

    non-community-based research methodology is in comparison the methodology of Project

    MENTOR.