Research Learning: a life-long asset

“We are waiting to get REB approval from Ryerson University”

My supervisor uttered those words on my first day working at a non-profit organization in Toronto. Had I not attended the Research Training for Community Action Leaders (CALs) organized by Access Alliance, I would have had to ask my supervisor what an REB is. I recently started working part-time at a non-profit organization on a research project, and due to my newly gained knowledge and experience with research ethics, methodology, data collection and analysis, I was able to walk into the experience with the utmost confidence. As an international development professional, I had participated in more than 30 training courses held in 9 countries, but I  found that this research training was especially exciting and unique due to its purpose, content, training method, and utilized materials.

The usability and relevance of content material can either make or break a training program or workshop. For adult learners and participants like me, content and its application were the most appealing aspects of the research training program at Access Alliance. Prior to enrolling in the program, I was keen to learn about the tenants of community-based research, particularly considering my experience as a Community Worker in the Training Program at George Brown College. Additionally, my previous work experience in different communities outside of Canada also motivated me to build on my skills and knowledge in relation to community-based research. Specifically, through this training, I found myself better understanding topics such as research design, methodology, data collection and analysis, report sharing, etc. I think it’s fair to say that I was motivated enough to attend every session, and I am now able to see the positive effects it has had on my ability to perform at my new position and my confidence in conducting research.

The method in which the training program was conducted was another appealing factor of the program as a whole. As a learner, I appreciate being engaged in the training in an interactive participatory manner. Facilitators utilized methods such as role play, small group discussions, chalk and talks, brain-storming activities, hands on exercises, and more to immerse CALs in the content of the program to facilitate the learning process. The duration of the program was also ideal: it was divided into sessions that were conducted over a period of several days, providing participants with an opportunity to consolidate the learning and reflect on their progress. Additionally, the program facilitators considered the engagement of CALs in other external activities when it came to scheduling and planning, making it easier for participants to attend.

In conclusion, contrary to popular opinion that only academics can conduct research, I am now confident enough to express that I too am a researcher. Before attending the Research Training, I received a manual titled ‘Everyone can do research: A plain language guide how to do research’. I was amazed by the title of this manual produced by Access Alliance, and as I started to read it prior to the program, I realized that Access Alliance kept its promise of a ‘plain language guide’. This manual along with the handouts provided during the training program are easy to understand and are useful materials to retain for future use.

I am thankful to Fatima, Nadia and Yogendra from Access Alliance for their excellent facilitation and for providing me with a learning opportunity that has proven to be a life-long asset.

Written by Mohammad Sarker.
Mohammed is a Community Action Leader of Promoting Good Jobs Project of Access Alliance. He has written this paper to share his experience about the Research Training held between November 2016 and March 2017.

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