Dr. Stacy Taniguchi, Dr. Peter Ward, and Dr. Mark Widmer, Department of Experience Design and Management
In January 2016, Stacy Taniguchi, Ph.D., Peter Ward, Ph.D., and Mark Widmer, Ph.D. from the Department of Recreation Management (RECM), received one of two Mentoring Environment Grants (MEGs) awarded to the Department by Brigham Young University’s (BYU) Office of Research and Creative Activities (ORCA). The Grant was awarded in the form of $19,600.00 to conduct a research study in Uganda, Africa on the impact of learning life skills through sports by Ugandan secondary school students. This study would be conducted in Uganda during the summer months of 2016. The locations were selected because of previous research studies conducted by Dr. Taniguchi in Uganda over the past six years.
From June 29, 2016 through August 2, 2016, the research team resided in Mukono, Uganda, a city approximately 35 kilometers east of the capital city of Kampala. The research team was composed of two BYU professors, Dr. Taniguchi and Dr. Ward, along with eight undergraduate research assistants (seven of the students were from BYU and one was from Lawrence College). This Grant was used to subsidize the expenses of the two professors and the seven research assistants from BYU. Funding for the research assistant from Lawrence College was subsidized by other research funds.
The team resided in Mukono with a Ugandan family whom Dr. Taniguchi had previous contact with on other research studies he has conducted in Uganda.
The first week in Uganda was spent visiting schools who were selected as possible data collection sites. This arrangement was made earlier with a Ugandan resident who lived in the area we were interested in. Eight schools were eventually selected to be the sites for data collection. Three of the schools were urban and five were rural. Three schools were public and five were private. Two of the schools were considered large (having an enrollment of over 600 students). Four of the schools had boarding facilities.
Over a period of four weeks, teams of two research assistants would visit two of the schools each school day for about two hours each. They were trained to teach a school’s select group of students (boys and girls) the fundamentals of football (soccer), netball, volleyball, and ultimate Frisbee. Incorporated in the lessons were specific training on seven identified life skills. A pre-test was administered before the program started with these students and a post-test was administered along with a retrospective pre/posttest after the program ended. During the program, the research assistants conducted focus group discussions with the students to obtain their perceptions of what they were learning.
EVALUATION OF THE ACADEMIC OBJECTIVE ACHIEVEMENTS
Spending the five weeks with these research assistants gave the professors a great opportunity to get to know them personally. The students were very mature and adaptable. Living for five weeks in a developing country far from home can cause numerous stress points, health issues, and anxiety. These research assistants were selected because many of them served LDS missions in foreign countries or had foreign country experiences, especially in developing nations. With the exception of a couple of temporary health issues, these students did very well in completing their assigned work. They learned about teaching methods, language barriers, cultural differences, and life in Uganda. Their time in Uganda open their eyes to different ways of life and to a new group of people. The research assistants also become skilled in administering quantitative data questionnaires, conducting qualitative focus groups and personal interviews, ensuring implementation fidelity between all the schools. The academic objectives were overwhelming achieved.
EVALUATION OF THE MENTORING ENVIRONMENT
Again, the length of time together and living with each other in close proximity gave rise to many opportunities to have conversations about what was being accomplished, personal perceptions of their experiences, and even time for one-on-one counselling. The LDS Church is present in Mukono, so we attended the local ward there every Sunday. This gave the students a chance to mingle with local Ugandans who believed in the same principles as they did. Even our non-LDS student accompanied us to church on Sundays and abided by the standards of the Church and BYU. Most of these students are still working with us in the analysis of the data collected. The mentoring environment was ideal for us to teach, demonstrate, and closely connect to our research assistants. The professors systematically traveled to each school and observed the research assistants implementing the program and collecting data. After each school observation, the professors would debrief with the research assistants about their strengths in their work and offer areas for improvement. These debriefs created a one-on-one mentoring environment between the professors and the research assistants where deep individualized learning and teaching thrived.
LIST OF STUDENTS
1. Ryan Hanna, junior, Lawrence College (not included in the use of the MEG funds)
2. Jack Zarboch, sophomore, BYU
3. Jackie Adams, senior, BYU
4. Allegra Luft, junior, BYU
5. Katrina Skidmore, junior, BYU
6. Mitchell Skidmore, junior, BYU
7. Katy Chamberlain, senior, BYU
8. Maurnet Mueller, senior, BYU
FINDINGS OF THE PROJECT
The data is still being analyzed. Jack Zarboch, Allegra Luft, and Katrina Skidmore are still deeply involved in the data analysis and writing publications.
The MEG primarily subsidized airfare, local lodging, local transportation costs, and research supplies and expenditures.