The six general education competencies are a foundation, when mastered, for ongoing academic and professional success. These six competencies include; oral communication, quantitative reasoning, reading fluency, written communication, critical thinking and information literacy. The current paper is going to analyze two of the six competencies and how they were applied in real life situations. The two competencies are information literacy and written communication. Last spring I had to do a research on the effects of televised violence on students.
Information literacy involves the process of identifying, retrieving, evaluating, organizing, citing properly and the application of a wide range of resources including print, graphic and electronic for independent learning and practical problem solving while written communication competency entails the ability to express ideas clearly and effectively through writing. Before embarking on the research process, I had to clearly know when and the extent and depth of the information that was required. I had to establish where I would get the information I need. I then had to evaluate the information with the respective sources to ensure that they were credible sources. In addition to that I had to synthesize the information and integrate it in such a manner that it was coherent and it addressed the topic in question. Copying, publishing and plagiarizing works written by other authors is a criminal offence, I therefore had to know all the legal and ethical practices with regards to the use of the information that I sourced from the databases I used.
The research process involved breaking down five main components into several subtopics and handling each one of them individually. The first one was establishing the research problem (which in this case was the impact that televised violence had on students). The second step involved finding information with which I would support my thesis statement and provide proof that televised violence had negative effects on students. The third step, after finding information, involved extraction of information from the various resources and establishing which resources were credible and which ones were not. The fourth step involved working on the product (the thesis) and the fifth step was the evaluation step.
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When dealing with the research problem, several issues had to be tackled. The first one was defining and describing all the keywords that I would use in my research together with all the search terms that I would use. There are so many types of media currently and they come in various formats and types. There is print media which comprises of newspapers, journals, magazines and books, and then there is the internet, cell phones, radios and television among other. It was therefore important to categorically state that I was only going to deal with televised violence. To define the key words which I would used in the research (such as violence, media, televised media) I had to brainstorm about the issue while ensuring that what I presented was in relation to what is known already by the students and the public as well. In the process of finding and searching for information, I had to come up with keywords and synonyms which would help me in getting the information easily.
With regards to finding information, I had to decide on the most appropriate location where I would get the information that I required. Even though the internet has a wide and massive volume of information, it also has many sources which are not credible. I therefore had to search for the right questions which would back up my thesis. After establishing the right sources, I had to extract the information that was required. To achieve this effectively and efficiently, I had to incorporate the skills I had learnt in my competency class. I highlighted the important information which I would require, made notes, used graphic organizers and made sure that the interview questionnaire and survey which I developed were appropriate and addressed the topic rather than deviating. From my competency classes, I had learnt that skills of extracting information from sources vary according to the type of resources that is used.
When it came to now start on the project, the first step was to synthesize, combine and organize all the sources I had used to convey what I had learnt. To achieve this, it was imperative that I ignore sources which were merely factual. I then had to apply a third competency skill (critical thinking) through coming up with a project which needed reasoning, extrapolation and then deriving a conclusion. I had to provide specific and right support to the central theme topic. There are several organizational patterns which are used. Some of these include the chronological pattern where there is separation of the topic into beginning-to-middle-to-final steps, stages, dates, or processes involved; problem-solution pattern where the problem in question is articulated and the right solution to the problem is explicated; cause-effect pattern where the problem is identified, its causes are specified and the explication of the effects or outcomes of this problem; criterion-focused pattern whereby there is articulation of visions, goals, standards, or criteria by which any solution to a problem should be evaluated, and then establishing which solutions best fit those criteria.
Since my research topic was violence in the media, I could use any of the aforementioned patterns. Through a chronological pattern, I would establish the historical timeline of media through organizing the topics of violence that are in newspaper, the violence in movies, the violence in broadcast TV and the violence being propagated by other new media, for example, the internet, face book and twitter among others I would need to articulate the data and statistics on the level and extent of violence being portrayed in the media and the impact that this was having on the social behavior of students. I would then have to prose the approaches and techniques through which medic content would be managed and regulated and provide recommendations, for example, the use of soft ware filters, tightening of censorship rules and regulations together with industry-wide agreements. If I adopted a cause-effect pattern, I would be required to assess the evaluate the scientific evidence on the theories, experiments and surveys which could show the various ways and manner through which violence in the media do or do not reveal a causal relationship to violence among students and in the society at large.
A topical pattern, which entails the identification of categories or classes of information important to understanding or thinking about the topic, would require me to seek main categories of concern with regards to my research topic. I would have to analyze the historical trends in the prevalence and increase of violent content in televised media, the main legislative and industry efforts in curbing and controlling violent content in the media, scientific evidence with regards to the correlation between the ills in the society and its moral decadence and media violence; and then propose the various techniques which would be used to regulate violent media content. Adopting a criterion-focused pattern would require me to first argue the significance and the importance of the balancing the constitutional criteria of First Amendment freedoms (i.e., prohibiting the making of any law abridging the freedom of speech, [or] infringing on the freedom of the press) against the social contract of the preamble (for example., constitutional criteria of First Amendment freedoms (i.e., prohibiting the making of any law abridging the freedom of speech, [or] infringing on the freedom of the press) against the social contract of the preamble). I would then have to provide a solution which would provide a reasonable and appropriate balance between the two.
After choosing my preferred pattern, I now had review existing literature on the topic. I had to completely and entirely review the literature in my area of study. From the scholarly journals, publication outlets and the internet, I reviewed as much as I could. However, I made sure that the information was not more than ten years old. The importance of studying the literature review is that it would help me in the identification of research gaps; I would then strive to fill these gaps in my research.
I had to choose the scientific process which I would apply in my research. Research entails the systematic, factual and controlled establishment of the relationship, correlation and causation which will allow the accurate and valid prediction of repercussions and impacts under a given set of conditions. Other than that, research entails the identification of gaps which are in existent knowledge field, confirmation of the validity and credibility of the information that is already there, establishing and pointing out the existing errors and limitations in past research. On most occasions, the credibility and validity of the source is dependent on where it was found. I had to explain the manner through which I found the answers to my research questions and the generation of data for the thesis.
In my informational literacy competency class, I had learnt that the right research design and the evaluation of information and its sources critically would help me in coming up with valid findings, appropriate comparisons and the right conclusions. Failure to do that would lead to misleading and faulty findings, and thus resulting to a waste of resources. With this in mind, it was crucial to ensure the research design was valid and manageable as well.
I had to come up with the various instruments which I would use in the collection of data. I had to decide the manner in which I would collect my data for my thesis then establish a suitable tool which I would use in the collection of data. My plan was to incorporate both primary data and secondary data. I prepared a questionnaire which I would distribute to my fellow students. While formulating the questions, I ensured that they were simple, clear and short. Vagueness and ambiguity create confusion. When the questionnaire is long, it will bore the respondents. Longer questions do not produce higher rates of responses. The questions were specific and precise in nature. This was to enhance the accuracy and comprehension by the respondents. I avoided words which could be interpreted differently by each and every respondent. Such words include, sometimes and frequently among others. I used the most appropriate language and the questionnaire was designed for a specialized group, that of students, I used jargons which the students would understand and were totally familiar with them. I had to put my writing communication competency skills to the fore when coming up with the questionnaire.
I ensured that the questions were answerable, formulating them in a manner which the respondents were able to provide full information without constraining or restraining them. I avoided asking questions which only few respondents would answer as this would end up frustrating the respondents and thus provide poor-quality responses. Each question was related to one topic while ensuring that I used the right emphasis in all the key words in the question. I achieved this through the underlining important phrases, italicizing some statements, boldfacing and capitalizing some words. This added the clarity to the questions. I took precaution while asking sensitive questions and this is because people are rarely willing to disclose very sensitive and personal information. In addition to that, I avoided the use of negative questions. The effect of negative questions is that it creates room for misinterpretation. The use of double negatives in ordinary language is also not grammatically correct and brings a lot of confusion. These questions are not easy to answer. I avoided biased and loaded questions and questions with false premises. In overall, the language was pretty easy and simple, all the terms were explained in a proper way and the arrangement of the questions was in a chronological way. They were logical and kept in an analytical manner. With regards to the answers and with the way the questions had been drafted, they (the answers) would be short and simple well, they would be direct and were all related to the problem.
The questionnaire consisted of a total of ten questions, and they were all meant to assess the students availability to television, and the time that they spent watching television programmes. This would help me get a good background of their habits with regards to watching TV. Questions which focused on the viewing habits were from when they were in third grade. This is due to the fact that from my earlier literature review process, I had noted that there was a strong relationship existing between televised violence and aggression especially when children were in their early ages and when they later became adolescents.
The second part of the questionnaire asked the student to tick from a scale range of one to five, the extent to which they were affected or bothered by what they saw in movies and if this affected them in real life. Some of the movie scenarios provided included; watching someone being shot, hearing two people hurling abusive and offensive languages at one another, when a person was being tortured, witnessing a car accident, seeing explosions and innocent people getting hurt. The main purpose of this second part of the questionnaire was to establish if children who watch televised violence ended up becoming desensitized to killing, offensive language and the cruelty in the real world.
The research was able to establish most students had televisions in the bedroom, meaning that the availability of violent programming among students was at an all time high. Most students spend a lot of time watching television, with the weekends used most to watch TV. Past research indicates that the highest rate of violent acts per hour is present in cartoon programmes and although the results indicated that the respondents do watch less television now compared to when they were in their third grades, the early childhood stage is very important with regards to what children are exposed to. Worryingly, the results indicated that most students are less bothered by the violence that they witness while watching movies, be it people being killed, blood, explosions, torture or accidents. This clearly showed that desensitization had taken place and because of watching violence over and over again on TV, they were more likely to tolerate violence and not do anything about it or be concerned upon seeing violence in our everyday world. The amount, extent and level that are shown by children is influenced by the desensitization process. The more desensitized the child is, the more likely they are to engage in acts of violence.
I had to make recommendations after stating my findings. I recommended that teachers be made aware of this issue. There was also need to plan and establish an in-service on the impacts of media violence on the students. This would help in understanding the viewing habits of the students, the programmes they watch and the matter in which they react to the programmes. All this information is important to understanding violent behavior in school and why it is on the increase.
There is also need to establish and come up with a media literacy course in the schools curriculum. This course will help educate students the manner in which they can analyze and evaluate the constructed codes and conventions of televised media. The course will also teach on the impact and repercussions that media violence has on people. It will also encourage and enhance critical thinking in this media dominated age. In addition to that, the course will provide new ways through which students can be engaged in learning.
Most parents do not regulate what their children watch and even when there are violent programmes going on, most parents are not present. Parents can also play a role through reducing the total time that a child spends while watching TV. Watching television for more than two to three hours daily is not beneficial to the children at all.
In overall, my research was successful and I got an A in the paper. Informational literacy competency and written communication competency were very vital in my research process and in the presentation of the final paper. My findings and recommendations were important for the school administration and during the school closing ceremony last spring; parents were sensitized on the issue. Through understanding and applying the skills I had learnt from the aforementioned competencies, I successfully completed my task. I was able to develop a persuasive thesis, support it through the use of evidence derived from analytical thinking. I was able to structure the paper logically and rhetorically, in an organized way which was clearly comprehensible. I was able to apply the skills I learnt, not only in this occasion but in also other situations. These two competencies along with the other general education competencies are important as a foundation, and once mastered these competencies will continue to provide academic and professional success.
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