Research: The Good, Bad, and Ugly?

By Eric Mason

​Research is a necessary evil. My advisor explained its importance to me as one could work within a system as a practioner or externally to improve it through research. Both have their place, and they are not mutually exclusive career-wise. As an undergrad, I hated research. Theory was pointless and existed only in a perfect world. Since beginning grad school, I have come to appreciate it. Though few situations exist in the really world that mirror them 100%, they provide a basis. Arthur Chickering’s Vectors exist in one form or another in international students or student athletes.

​Perfection is unattainable, but getting close is worthwhile. The idealistic nature acts as a guide for various situations. Some theories are adaptable, such as Chickering’s. Others are specific, such as theories on race identity. The goal of theory is not to discover an ideal situation, but to see how to improve it if possible. It is a basis for comparison amongst similar scenarios.

​I recently completed a class entitled “The American Community College,” a five-week examination of community college history, structure, goals, outcomes, and functions in modern society. My final paper analyzed the transfer environment of rural community colleges to four-year schools. Halfway through the paper, I realized that little research had been conducted specifically on this topic. My paper ended up with little in the way of solid conclusions, but an inspiration was sparked.

​Research is that talkative friend with an occasionally amazing idea. I don’t value it enough. The theories used in daily student affairs practices originated in the planned endeavors of research. As I begin my next class, an introduction to research methodology, I am excited about the future implications in my class and school work once I understand more how research works.

Student Affairs - the First Years

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