Research Skills

In the Fall of 2020, I completed a group research assignment in my Organizational Behavior course.  This assignment was built on the concept of Appreciative Inquiry.  Appreciative Inquiry, which is widely viewed as a powerful methodology for accelerating organizational change, involves the art of asking questions in a way that both strengthens and heightens positive potential.  Many times, this form of inquiry is used to effectively discover the specific factors that give life to any organization, community, or group of people.  In this way, it allows the greatest positive core of an organization or group of people to be embraced and used to shed light across new areas which, in turn, can spark positive organizational change all around.  More specifically, our group project was centered around the concept of “resilience.”  Our assignment was to broadly study the art of resilience through the lens of Appreciative Inquiry.  We were placed into groups of 4-5 students, and together we used the Appreciative Inquiry process to build our own unique theory of resilience based on data collected throughout the semester.  And of course, the assignment culminated at the end of the term with a group paper and presentation.

To begin our journey, each member of the group was tasked with reading 100 unique pages on the topic of resilience.  In completing this task, we collaborated on our sources and shared both common and unique findings in discussion as a group as we each progressed through the material.  After each having completed these 100 pages of reading on our topic, we then were tasked with creating an interview protocol in order to further our exploration in this space.  Each group member would be responsible for interviewing 5 working professionals on the topic of resilience to find out what resilience means to them and how they have managed to build and maintain resilience in their lives.  As a group, we created a uniform protocol for all 25 interviews we would conduct.  Once we had completed our interviews, we reconvened as a group to share what we had found.  At that time, we were then tasked with writing a 10 page group paper on our findings, including our readings on resiliency, an analysis of the data collected in our interviews, as well as our very own unique theory of resilience.  

From first glance at this class’ syllabus, I knew that this term-long assignment would undoubtedly be a challenge.  However, I recognize that with many of life’s challenges come some of the greatest lessons we’ll ever learn.  And in regard to this project, I know that I have certainly learned in abundance on the topics of Appreciative Inquiry, resilience, and teamwork.  Prior to this course, I had never been exposed to the topic of Appreciative Inquiry.  I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned in regard to how asking questions in a positive light and searching for strengths and potential in this way, rather than identifying weaknesses and possible shortfalls, is a much more effective way to spark positive change and uncover true potential in any group of people or organization.  By asking interview questions in this positive light, I learned an ample amount about the ways in which resilience has positively shaped and impacted the lives of so many.  I also learned that oftentimes, the greatest gifts and achievements are born out of the darkest times in one’s life- the times when resilience is key in continuing to move forward each and every day that the sun rises.  Truly, I walked away from this experience feeling inspired, enlightened, and ready to take the world by storm.

Even through this incredibly enlightening experience, I still felt challenged by the nature of this project.  I’d share that the toughest aspect of the experience as a whole came about when we were tasked with analyzing and screening 25 interviews in one session to search for main overarching themes that we could leverage in creating our own theory of resilience.  When looking at data and answers to questions from 25 completely different individuals with unique backgrounds and life stories, we stumbled a lot as a group before gaining any traction.  It took unwavering patience and open-mindedness to truly listen to each other’s collected stories and develop our set of common themes.  In this exercise, I learned that collaboration among multiple individuals across a large set of interviews is certainly not the easiest way to conduct research and explore a given topic, however I am certain that our end product was stronger and more comprehensive than it would have been if we hadn’t taken the time to fully digest all 25 stories, ideas, and understandings for the development of our theory.  This proves to me that the easy way out many times will not produce the greatest results, and that the hard work and patience in collaboration is always well worth it in the end.

See our final presentation and group research paper below.