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Psychology 122: Qualitative Research in Psychology

Course Spotlight, October 2010

Qualitative Research in Psychology (PSYC 122) introduces students to the various methods of data collection in research projects, such as interviews, focus groups, participant observation, and behavioral observation. 

dR.Rachel August

Rachel August, Ph.D.

Sacramento State Psychology professor, Rachel August, Ph.D., initiated the Service Learning collaboration between PSYC 122 and Sacramento County’s In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program.  Dr. August believed it was important to get students out of the classroom and undergo processes similar to any researcher in the field. In-class activities are designed to prepare students for the six to eight week long Service Learning project.

PSYC 122 and IHSS provide students with field experience and introduce students to populations in need. IHSS serves over 22,000 elderly individuals in Sacramento who have limited or fixed incomes. Students conduct in-depth interviews with IHSS clients, analyze resulting data, and perform mini-needs assessments.

Incorporating Service Learning into the curriculum has enhanced the experience of PSYC 122 for both students and the instructor.  For Dr. August, it has made the class more fun.  She enjoys seeing Sacramento State psychology students engage in hands-on experiences with Qualitative Psychology, and believes the ‘real world’ perspective provides students with a much more meaningful experience. 

Former PSYC 122 student Cassie Phares, Psychology senior, loved working in the community.  She feels that the Service Learning component of the course allowed her to develop an affinity for data collection and analysis. She also felt it was a great resume builder, and enabled her to use state of the art technology, develop interview skills, and understand the value of obtaining data. For Cassie, the best part of PSYC 122 is in knowing that her efforts have directly helped people.

Dr. August believes that whether students plan to attend graduate school or pursue a career, having skills in research and data collection is vital.  PSYC 122 teaches the process of data collection and data analysis with frustrations and struggles built-in.  For some students, experiencing the different stages of the project is an emotional roller coaster as students learn to negotiate challenges and bureaucratic hurdles.  Dr. August finds being able to complete the project successfully through all the stages of data collecting gives students a big sense of accomplishment.

Contributed by KT. Aquino and TH. Nguyen

Each year, more than two thousand Sacramento State students, faculty, staff, and alumni participate in programs and projects sponsored by Community Engagement Center. Programs such as Alternative Break, AmeriCorps Students in Service, Sac State Serves, and Service Learning fulfill our mission to facilitate learning and engagement by linking campus and community for mutual benefit. Through Spotlight, Community Engagement Center will highlight outstanding individuals and programs advancing community engagement in the Sacramento region.

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last updated: 10/25/2010