Saturday, October 27, 2007

I Learn

Most people say that the way you learn in college would be far different from the way you learn in school. I realize that the amount of homework is not that much, (Praise the Lord for that!) and that grades are less emphasized here (to me, at least). My dad said that college life would be fun and less stressful. According to him, even learning would be fun. I was just holding on to these words but I could never really understand what he meant until we were assigned to do this assignment.

I have to say that I was glad this assignment was a topic of our interest. I just hate doing things that I’m not interested in. If something seems to be uninteresting to me; I don’t even try to understand it. Well, that’s a lie. I will try to understand it but somehow my attention drifts elsewhere. I was more than happy when we were given the opportunity to actually delve into something that answers our curiosity. All this while I wanted to find out the reasons to why and how a father could rape his own child and whether or not he felt any guilt. Whenever I read the newspapers, I often come across news about girls being raped and it is clear that the number of cases involving incest is increasing by the day. This predicament really disturbs me and that is why I decided to find out the explanations as to why a person can do such heinous acts.

There are many things that I have learned from this psychology assignment. First of all, I have learned that teamwork is very important. To be honest, a few of us were never really that close. Of course we are friends but because of this assignment, we grew closer as a team but more importantly, we grew closer as friends. When we first got together, the discussions were always a little bit dry and tense because some of us were shy to view our opinions. Whenever I thought that the discussion was going nowhere, I tried to ask them to voice out their opinions regarding the issue. I know for some people, they might be afraid of speaking up because they are not used to it, therefore I made the initiative to talk first. I know at times it might seem as though I like to dominate the discussion but the actual reason is because I want them to warm up and voice out their opinions. According to my dad, that particular incident demonstrated that I had leadership skills and also good communication skills. Besides that, I also joked with them whenever I thought the situation was tense. In the end, they were able to warm up. To be precise, in the end all of us were comfortable expressing whatever we had on our minds. We weren’t afraid to point out each others mistakes or to ask anything that we didn’t understand. The transition was very apparent.

The first major problem that we had was picking out the specific topic that aroused all of our interests. Each of us wanted to do something different and I knew that we were going to have difficulties if we could not resolve that matter fast. Eliza wanted to research about sadistic behavior, Siang Ling wanted to do something like anxiety disorder and Yen Yee was interested in doing the borderline personality disorder. I did not know whether to choose between antisocial behavior and borderline personality disorder. Even at that stage, some of them were reluctant to express their honest opinions of what they think the topic of our research should be. Well, maybe some of them were even unsure of what they were interested in at that time; I am not that sure. At that point, I was kind of worried because as a group, we were not able to agree on something as simple as choosing a research topic. I thought the process of this project was not going to be a smooth one. However, as time passed; the situation got better because everyone was less shy and was more opinionated.

I think it was during the mid term break when my group members and I decided to do a research based on borderline personality disorder. The funny thing is, we made these decisions through sms. I thought it would be a piece of cake when it came to making a decision on a topic. I mean, I asked all of them what topic they were interested in and somehow we made a conclusion that we were going to do the project based on borderline personality disorder. After that, I straight away went and did numerous researches on the disorder thinking that the rest would do the same. On the contrary, when we had the next meeting, some expressed that they did not want to do research on borderline personality disorder. It would not have bothered me that much if they had told me earlier. How did I feel at that moment? Kind of frustrated, obviously. But then I told myself that it is better that they voiced out their opinions now rather than later.

So basically our problem was still unresolved. We were back to square one. Eliza still wanted to do sadistic behavior while Yen Yee and Siang Ling were still unsure. Eliza viewed her opinions why she thinks doing research on sadistic behavior is interesting to her. Based on her explanations, I could see that Eliza and I had the same interests. Due to that, I suggested doing antisocial personality disorder. They said that they did not want to do research on that because it was boring. When I asked why, she said that no one would want to know about people who do not want to socialize. It was obvious that they hadn’t read about APD yet so I explained to them what APD was all about. Only after that, they were interested in doing a research on APD.

After we were able to decide on the topic, we decided to meet Dr. Fulton because we were unsure of what we needed to do for the project. In the first meeting, Dr. Fulton suggested that we should only do our project on personality disorders and not on APD. He said our choice was too narrow. However, we still decided to proceed with APD because to us, we knew what we had to focus on. If we just researched on personality disorders, the topic would be too wide and we wouldn’t know how much to research.

In the next group meeting, we distributed the work equally. Unfortunately, I was given the biological approach. Honestly, I was afraid that I would not be able to present this well because I was never really good in biology. So getting a task which I am not good at didn’t sound so great to me. Since I knew I am not a genius in biology, I didn’t waste any time and started on the research straight away. I searched the internet, looked through books but somehow the information that I got didn’t really answer my curiosities. At some point, I had to think outside the box (which is good because to be honest, I don’t do that very often). I also had to apply my knowledge that was outside of the field of psychology in order to answer my own curiosities. Surprisingly, the answers to my own questions were right! Well, I obviously had to do research on that to prove that my assumptions were not just rubbish. But the fact that I was able to apply my knowledge accurately and the fact that I was able to find the answers to my questions gave me a certain satisfaction that I cannot really describe. I felt happy and I was proud of myself because somehow I felt as though I took my first step into the scholarly world (being all inquisitive and all. I know it sounds lame but it doesn’t matter). Besides that, I also felt that if you are not good in a specific area of studies that can be overcome by doing research and reading. Nothing is impossible.

All in all, I really enjoyed doing this assignment. There might have been some ups and downs but it was al worth it. It is surprising how interest and curiosity can be a motivator in life. I must confess, that I was rather disappointed when Dr. Fulton gave us 80 over 100. I know what he gave was fair because we had flaws in certain major aspects of the project but somehow I just wanted higher marks. Well, I know that grades aren’t everything. I just…wanted more. As a first timer, what we presented was not bad at all. It wasn’t perfect but that’s okay with me. The presentation did last for two hours and a half, so that meant that we did have substance in our presentation. We might not have gotten the highest grade but I’m still proud of my group. We couldn’t find much explanation for each school of thought because there were not many official explanations that we could get from books or in the internet. Therefore we took risks and applied our knowledge to the case. Hey, we tried and that is what counts. Dr. Fulton did point out our mistakes during the presentation but I’m not embarrassed by that because this is a learning process. During the presentation, we were able to discuss many things and see things differently in a deeper aspect.

Basically, we had a priceless experience while doing this assignment. We made mistakes and from them, thus we learned and gained more knowledge. This is what the assignment was all about, anyway. It’s a learning process. Isn’t it?

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