Gemma Sawyer is a final year psychology student. She spent summer 2019 as a CUROP student at DECIPHer.
For the past eight weeks, I have been working on the JACK Trial, which is an evaluation of a sexual health intervention targeted at boys to reduce unintended teenage pregnancy. My main tasks have involved entering and analysing data from a Student Engagement Questionnaire (SEQ) and writing reports for each intervention school based on these findings. I also contributed to the analysis of the SEQs from the other nations involved in the trial: England, Scotland and Northern Ireland (the trial is led by Queens University, Belfast).
As this data was mainly quantitative, I was also keen to analyse some qualitative data as I had not had much experience with this. My supervisor Kelly Buckley was incredibly accommodating of this and supported me to understand thematic analysis and use NVivo. I utilised these skills to theme and code interview and focus group transcripts with pupils, teachers, trial champions, and education/policy specialists. This has taught me a lot about qualitative analysis and I have gained confidence in understanding it and carrying it out.
I have learned a lot about how a trial is run and all of the effort and organisation that is required for it to go smoothly – especially when carrying out research in a school!
Another task I have been heavily involved with has been preparing for follow-up data collection. This has involved creating registers and barcodes, preparing the questionnaires, and collating fieldworker resources and training materials. During these tasks I have learned a lot about how a trial is run and all of the effort and organisation that is required for it to go smoothly – especially when carrying out research in a school!
Overall, my CUROP placement has been an incredibly valuable experience that has not only developed my research and organisation skills, but has also given me an understanding of the world of academic research that has informed my choice to pursue it as a career.