Cookies, Candy, and Qualitative Research

Thursday, July 21 at 1 pm CT have my public defense of my dissertation: An exploration of the lived experiences of college students with disabilities (my dissertation abstract).

All are welcome to attend, or email me if you’d like the link to the live cast. If you come in person, you’ll be able to enjoy homemade cookies. Otherwise, you’ll have to BYOC.

The Grey

Monday night I was assisting in the intervention skills class. This course is aimed at preparing student affairs professionals to support students should they have certain concerns or needs. Our topics this semester range from depression to Autism to identity.

This week’s topic was sexual assault. This is never an easy subject for anyone. With 1 in 4 college women being sexually assaulted, we need to break the silence.

Claudia Charles, Director of Counseling and Wellness at Fontbonne University, spoke to the class about sexual assault and supporting students who may have experienced such an event. She spoke about counseling students who were assaulters and how being present with the student is helpful in keeping biases in check. She also went over general information, including statistics, sexual assault facts, and emotions victims may be experiencing.

There is so much grey in the experience of sexual assault. No, not every victim will say rape even though it was rape. No, not every victim will fight their assaulter. No, not every victim will want to speak out. No, not every victim will come to the acceptance of their sexual assault.

This brings the conversation back to the thought that we need to support those who do come forward about sexual assault. We need to encourage them to seek counseling and hopefully they will report the crime to the police. We need to strongly encourage victims to seek medical attention for their assault.  This is integral in ensuring they are physically ok and collecting any possible evidence should the victim wish to prosecute in the future.

One question I had, as I have never had the experience of accompanying anyone to the emergency room for sexual assault, is what does this experience look like for a person?

Would in the case of people on their parents’ insurance plan result in an explanation of benefits (EOB) mailed home? This could be an issue in instances where the person does not wish to have parents notified. Victims can process the emergency room visit without using insurance, and the visit might be able to be covered by a victim’s grant.

I marvel at how some find the courage to relive their assault in order to seek medical attention, counseling, or to prosecute the assaulter. They are strong and I am proud of those people. Be proud of those people too. Show your support by speaking up about sexual assault. You could be the push someone needs to break the silence.

Read on:

Crime Victim Compensation information

Video about emergency room experience

ER Care for Sexual Assault Victims


Communication is Key

Communication is key.

How often have we all heard that phrase?

Now let that phrase marinate.

Why is communication so key?  Communication is so important in our lives we even have a word for the times when communication goes awry.  Few of us master communication, and definitely not with everyone.  Why? Communication is always a transaction.  Verbal. Nonverbal. Always receiving.  Always responding.

I talk. You listen.

You talk. I listen.


One would hope.  In written word, this seems rational; however, once we get so fixated on what we are trying to say, we forget to listen.  I talk. You talk. No listen.

In reality, it’s not all about me.  And it’s not all about you.

One thing I have experienced in my role as a student recently is the propensity of everyone to talk in the classroom.  I left the classroom last night with my head reeling with questions not about the class topic, but human behavior.  We were to work on a group project.  After twenty of the thirty minutes assigned, two of the six were not budging.  They allowed their personal opinions to get in the way of the research and trends.  In the remaining 10 minutes, we debated, but came up with a good idea to present.  Someone presented, but only presented their opinions and pieces of the project they liked.  I was dashed that our project was not presented.  Especially when we all had good ideas.

Everyone is so concerned with being heard. It seems as though instead of listening actively, we are all so busy thinking about our response while the other person is talking, thus not actively listening or reflecting. We will only be intelligent as a society if we act like a society.  Collective knowledge benefits the whole community.

Collaboration is amazing.  It happens when communication is at least roughly effective.  Groups of people connect over common ideas, issues, etc. and create something.  Their minds come together to create!  Amazing!

Why are we all so hung up on our own ideas? Why are our experiences more important than those of others?

The Difference Between Telling and Imparting

Ever been in a classroom where you just cannot keep your eyes open?  We all have. Mine was American history my sophomore year of undergrad (Spring 2002).  No matter how much sleep I got or how fast I chugged that Coke, I couldn’t stay focused.  Two things about this struck me: first, I love history and school.  I feel lost without school and I am always eager to learn.  Second, other students were crashing too.  Eventually, the huge lecture class dwindled to fifteen alternating attendees, until test day, when the auditorium would fill up again.

Why was this?  Were we all just poor students?  We weren’t engaged.  The instructor would walk up to the middle of the stage, pull his textbook out of his bag, and proceed to read aloud the chapters we were to read for this class session.

There was only one class where I was strangely awake.  He was asking questions, and we were answering, discussing, and, low and behold, learning.

Engage them.  Discuss.  Activities.  Scenarios.  Something!