Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Literature Review Blog #4

1.       Visual

2.       Citation
Snee, Helene. "Doing Something ‘Worthwhile’: Intersubjectivity and
     Morality in Gap Year Narratives." Wiley Online Library, John Wiley & Sons,
     2013, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/store/10.1111/1467-954X.12116/asset/
     Accessed 3 Mar. 2017.

3.       Summary
In her paper, Doing Something ‘Worthwhile’: Intersubjectivity and Morality in Gap Year Narratives, Helene Snee acknowledges the fact that gap years are often put forward as an opportunity to engage in individualized, reflexive, identity work. However, she has a small criticism; when it comes to student accounts of their gap-year experiences, Snee feels that many narratives of gap-year travel tend to be framed with reference to standard ‘scripts’ and are influenced by structural forces. The paper explores gap year narratives in online travel journals or ‘blogs’ of 39 students, both male and female and from differing social classes and backgrounds, throughout their journeys.

4.       Author
Besides being an award winning author, Helene Snee has worked as a sociology professor as well as a research associate to the head of Manchester Business School. Snee earned her PhD in Sociology from the University of Manchester.

5.       Key Terms:
Intersubjectivity: existing between conscious minds; shared by more than one conscious mind
Reflexivity: therefore, comes to mean an act of self-reference where examination or action "bends back on", refers to, and affects the entity instigating the action or examination.
Self-development: the process by which a person's character or abilities are gradually developed

The following two quotes are examples of blog posts by students during their gap year experience:

The realisation that there are so many amazing things you can do has really hit me today. There is absolutely no need at all to be a sightseer. Whether it is teaching, working at a rescue centre or building furniture for Tsunami victims [as (Friend), one of the other GAPpers is], working in a place gives you so much more than just passing through and seeing the sights. Getting to know a place, networking with the Thais – learning the lingo and having fun, is infinitely more rewarding. (page 849)

On the back of our staff shirts it said: “Be the change you want to see in the world” and this summer i’ve realised how true that is I mean, i haven’t done much yet but i know that i’ve affected some kids lives for the better and that’s an amazing feeling. (page 850)

A key part of the successful gap year is the recognition that enjoyment is an intrinsic part of the experience, as long as orientations to doing something worthwhile are also evident. Thus, the gappers who only focus on having fun tell a less successful story than those who strike a balance, aligning with the imperative to be a well-rounded, socially conscious employable person. (page 851)

7.       Value
One criticism that Snee has about gap-year narratives is that they may not be genuine because they tend to be framed by standard scripts. So, the fact that this journal focuses on the true feelings students had in the process of experiencing their gap year will give a great insight towards how students are affected in the midst of the learning experience.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Research Proposal

Else DiGiacopo
Professor Goeller
Research in the Disciplines: College!
March 7th, 2017
Research Proposal Final Draft

Working Title: The Gap Year: A New Norm?
I will be researching the gap year that has recently been gaining popularity and encouragement as an intermediate step for students between high school and college. The paper will explore the many questions that students must ask themselves before making the decision to take a year off or proceed directly to a university, as well as the various aspects affecting students decisions regarding the matter, whether they are financial, social, or emotional matters, and finally the effects that the gap year had on students who participated in it.
Research Question:
Based on recent trends, will students taking a gap year between high school and university become the norm? And what are the major factors affecting the growing popularity of the gap year? Furthermore, does it work?
Theoretical Frame:
The ongoing and ever-changing debate of the “gap year” has gained a lot of attention recently due to Malia Obama’s decision to take a year off with intentions of broadening her horizons. In fact, in an article by Mike McPhate of the New York Times, it is explained that Malia's decision is proving to spark major discussions regarding a year of growth and development between high school and college, and that some educators and universities (including all 8 Ivy League schools included) are strongly endorsing and even have programs dedicated to this process. Likewise, in his book, Gap Year: How Delaying College Changes People in Ways the World Needs, Joseph O’Shea sheds light on the various ways in which the gap year can have a global effect with many programs in place to help many people in need. It becomes apparent that while many students are looking for personal clarity during their time off, they may be able to change the world in the meantime, being that many gap year programs are centered around community service and charity work.
It is obvious Malia Obama represents a certain case. It goes without saying that she is a famous public figure who does not need to spend her time worrying about how her financial standing ( as well as many other factors) will affect her decision in taking a gap year. That being said, while her case is a great example as well as spark for discussion, I will be focussing more on students who don’t necessarily “have it as easy”. I have found various case studies that delve into to lives of various students, each one unique in its own way. The first, by Helene Snee, analyzes the travel blogs of 39 gap year students along their journeys. Another, by Melinda Coetzee and Suzanne Bester (of South Africa) is a study regarding 3 students who come from predominantly middle-class families and how their decision to take the gap year was made as well as the affects it had on them. Lastly, a study conducted by Allison J. Spenader investigates how 4 US students who travelled to Sweden as a pre-collegiate year off (with no prior knowledge of the target language) adapt and further learn the language and to what extent of proficiency. As you can see by just these three case studies, the gap year is an extremely elaborate topic with many different ins and outs of which I will try to connect in my final research paper.
I am very interested in this topic, especially being a student who very recently took the big step from high school to college and knowing people who chose to take a gap year, as well as many who did not. I wonder if the long-lasting trend of continuing education directly from high school to college will change, and if taking a gap year will become the new norm.
Case, Additional Questions, and Research Plan:
Like I said previously, I will use the case of Malia Obama as a kickstart, being that her fame has brought much attention to the topic. However, I have become aware that although the gap year is becoming more popular and widely accepted, many still view it with trepidation for various reasons; a main one being that the gap year is for affluent students, those who can afford to delay the start of their college experience. In my research, two resources that I think will be helpful regarding this point are the article "The 'Gap Year’ Not Just for Rich Kids Anymore", and also the AmeriCorps program which places young adults in non-profit agencies around the country, one that many students take advantage of when taking a gap year. In fact, in her article, Rebecca Kern explained how AmeriCorps helped focus the lives of two different gap year students.
I would like to further research the number of students from various social backgrounds and financial standings who have chosen to take the gap year (or perhaps those who have wanted to but could not), and for what reasons as well as what were the main motivations and limitations in the decision making process. The recent increase in popularity of the gap year is drawing much attention to the topic and causing great discussion as well as a change in mass attitude regarding the matter, a change that I hope to fully grasp in my final paper.

Works Cited
Coetzee, Melinda, and Suzanne Bester. “The Possible Value of a Gap Year: A Case Study.”         Sabinet, Higher Education South Africa (HESA), Jan. 2009, journals.co.za/content/high/23/3/EJC37535. Accessed 4 Mar. 2017.
Couric, Katie. “The ‘Gap Year’ Not Just for Rich Kids Anymore.” Global Citizen Year, 23 Sept. 2016. Global Citizen, www.globalcitizenyear.org/press/gap-year-not-just-rich-kids-anymore/. Accessed 28 Feb. 2017.
Kern, Rebecca. “AmeriCorps Helps Focus the Futures of Two Gap Year Students.” USNews.com, U.S. News & World Report L.P., 26 May 2010, www.usnews.com/education/articles/2010/05/26/americorps-helps-focus-the-futures-of-two-gap-year-students. Accessed 5 Mar. 2017.
McPhate, Mike. “Malia Obama’s ‘Gap Year’ Is Part of a Growing (and Expensive) Trend.” New York Times, 2 May 2016, www.nytimes.com/2016/05/03/us/malia-obamas-gap-year-is-part-of-a-growing-and-expensive-trend.html?_r=0. Accessed 28 Feb. 2017.
O’Shea, Joseph. Gap Year : How Delaying College Changes People in Ways the World Needs. Johns Hopkins UP, 2013. EBSCOhost, site.ebrary.com/lib/rutgers/reader.action?docID=10790488. Accessed 4 Mar. 2017.
Snee, Helene. “Doing Something ‘Worthwhile’: Intersubjectivity and Morality in Gap Year Narratives.” Wiley Online Library, John Wiley & Sons, 2013, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/store/10.1111/1467-954X.12116/asset/sore12116.pdf?v=1&t=izxlxcsp&s=7f4de72bdc64da5e4228ed41d161ccaeadca3e62. Accessed 3 Mar. 2017.
Spenader, Allison J. “Language Learning and Acculturation: Lessons from High School and Gap-Year Exchange Students.” Wiley Online Library, Foreign Language Annals, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1944-9720.2011.01134.x/epdf. Accessed 4 Mar. 2017.

Literature Review Blog #3

1. Visual
Image result for gap year

Works Cited
Coetzee, Melinda, and Suzanne Bester. "The Possible Value of a Gap Year: A Case Study." Sabinet,   Higher Education South Africa (HESA), Jan. 2009,                             journals.co.za/content/high/23/3/EJC37535.Accessed 4 Mar. 2017.

3. Summary:
This piece is a case study in which 3 students (1 male and 2 female) all from  predominantly middle class backgrounds who took a gap year before attending college. This case study  touches on many different aspects of the experiences of the students before, during, and after their gap year was taken. Three of them being: high school experiences, career exploration, and expectations of the gap year. Towards the end of the piece, there is a segment called "Feelings About the Gap Year" which provides great insight to both the positive and negative parts of the experience that the students reported.

4. Authors:
Melinda Coetzee is an Educational Psychologist at the University of South Africa.
Suzanne Bester of the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Pretoria. She has 16 years of experience in higher education and as an educational psychologist. Doctor Bester publishes regularly in peer reviewed journals and scholarly books, and disseminates her work at national and international conferences.

5. Key Term:
Constructivist Paradigm: learning as an active constructive process. The learner is an information constructor. In this case study, this term is very important because it explains the way in which the students were allowed to construct meaning and portray their personal experiences regarding their gap-year.
Key concept:
Expectation vs Reality: In a section of this piece, the students reflect of various parts of their time off, and explain many differences in what they expected their gap-year to be like and what actually happened. Some differences are greater than others, some are negative and some are positive, but I think this is a very relevant concept for this topic being that you never really know what exactly you are going to get.

"The prevalence of commercial gap year companies as well as the large number of young people taking gap years is seen as evidence of the growing popularity of this practice." Page 609

"The three participants all reported an increase in their independence and confidence level,
and having gained insights into their own personality and relationships with others. In addition, they experienced an increase in life-skills related to taking care of themselves, budgeting of their finances, and interpersonal skills." Page 616

"Career exploration is an important and age-appropriate developmental task of the participants
engaged in a gap year, and the career decision-making process is a developmental task linked to the stage of exploration." Page 618 

7. Value
I think that this material will be very helpful in exploring my research question for many reasons, but mainly because it is a case study. I think that the fact that this piece follows 3 real life experiences of students who lived the life of the gap-year will give me some great information to work with. 

Research Blog #5

Monday, February 27, 2017

Literature Review Blog #2

The Guardian: Education: University 2007: Gap years: The world is your Mollusc: Should you take a gap year?
Alice Wignall has the pros and cons - and the questions to ask yourself!

1. Visual 

2. Citation
Wignall, Alice. "Gap Years: The World Is Your Mollusc: Should You Take a Gap 
     Year?" InfoWeb.NewsBank.com, infoweb.newsbank.com/resources/doc/nb/news/ 
3. Summary
This relatively short article is about the basic questions, mindsets, and evolving views of both students and universities regarding the gap year and whether or not it is a helpful step for different students. 

4. Author
Alice Wignall has been writer for “The Guardian” since 2000, which is a British national daily newspaper.

5. Key Terms 
Legitimate: In reference to the topic of gap years, many have questioned the “legitimacy” of the process-whether it really prepares students for college life and to what extent. 

Practicality: When deciding to take a gap year or to continue directly to university, students must consider every aspect of their social, emotional, and financial lives in order to choose the most “practical” route. 

6. Quotes (article does not have pages)
“Once upon a time, anyone suggesting they might take a year off before moving on to higher education would have been regarded as at best a fanciful misfit and at worst an eccentric layabout. But not any more.”

“But if you are going to take a gap year, you need two crucial things: a plan and a genuine desire to take one.”

“Most universities see gap years as legitimate: you won't scupper your chances by taking one, or not.”

7. Value

This article, although short, is very helpful in getting to some of the major questions surrounding a students decision to take a gap year or not. It sheds light on many different variables involved in the decision, and how these choices are viewed by universities as well as society which will affect how I conduct further research on the topic.  

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Literature Review Blog #1

1. Visual 

2. Citation
Works Cited
O'Shea, Joseph. Gap Year : How Delaying College Changes People in Ways the World Needs. EBSCOhost, site.ebrary.com/lib/rutgers/reader.action?docID=10790488. Web.

3. Summary (Used from Research Blog #3)
Gap Year: How Delaying College Changes People in Ways the World Needs by Joseph O'Shea is the first empirically based analysis of a gap year's influence on student development. The book is broken up into two parts, Part 1: Experiencing The Gap Year, and Part 2: Understanding The Gap Year. In this book, O'Shea establishes a context for better understanding students personal developments over the years time ad also suggests various ways in which universities and educators can develop effective gap year programs for students. 

4. Author
Who is Joseph O'Shea?
Joseph O'Shea is the Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research as well as an adjunct professor in the colleges of education and social science. He has been deeply involved in developing education and health care initiatives in communities in the United States and sub-Saharan Africa. He was also a Rhodes Scholar and holds a doctorate from the University of Oxford. 

5. Key Terms/Concepts
Key Term:
Gap year providers: in the United States, these organizations offer structured gap year programs for students, curating the experience by helping place students in their gap year roles and supporting them during the year. (page 3)

Key Concept:
Motivations: students may have various motivations or reasons affecting their decision to take or not take a gap year. These motivations may include money, personal health, community service, lack of direction, and many more. When deciding whether or not to utilize a gap year, students motivations are the major factor in their decision. (page 13)

6. Quotations: 
"Among U.S. higher education institutions, Harvard has the longest tradition of encouraging students to take a gap year before matriculation, a position it has held for more than 30 years. Harvard saw a 33 percent jump in the number of students taking gap years in the past decade" (O'Shea, 3).

"Some students wanted to use the gap year (often their first extended period away from family) to challenge or test themselves in ways that they felt would help them to develop or learn about themselves and others. Students said the gap year was a response to a desire to “do something on my own,” to “accomplish something without much help from others,” or do be “independent” (O'Shea, 15). 

"The readiness of gap year volunteers may be an important factor in the process of changing the ways they understand the world, as volunteers may be more receptive to changes and influences" (O'Shea, 22).

7. Value of this Source:
I think that this book by Joseph O'Shea will prove to be very helpful to me when exploring my research topic. This book offers so much information regarding many different aspects of the gap year, from the decision making process to the eventual results of the time. There are many examples, studies, interviews, and fats in this book that will give me great insight into the world of the gap year. 

Research Blog #3: Three Academic Sources

The first article I chose is a brief explanation pertaining to Malia Obama’s decision to take a gap year before starting her college career at Harvard University. Although it has not been confirmed what she will be doing in her year off, there is great anticipation surrounding her choice. This article gives great information and quotes about support for the gaps year, as well as the growing recognition it is getting due to the recent decision of the President’s daughter. 

The second article I chose explains the recent changes in mindset and opinions regarding students taking a gap year. Many colleges respect and even encourage this “year off.” Alice Wignall touches on the pros and cons of taking a gap year, questions students must ask themselves when deciding whether or not to take the gap year, and finally factors that may affect their decisions.

The third source I chose is a book by Joseph O’Shea called Gap Year : How Delaying College Changes People in Ways the World Needs. This book is the first empirically based analysis of a gap year's influence on student development. The book is broken up into 2 parts, Part 1: Experiencing the Gap Year, and Part 2: Understanding the Gap Year. In this book, O’Shea establishes a context for better understanding students personal developments over the years time and also suggests various ways in which universities and educators can develop effective gap year programs for students. 

Works Cited
"Malia Obama Is Taking a 'Gap Year' before College. Should Everyone?" Middle Search Plus, eds.b.ebscohost.com/eds/detail/detail?sid=81082ded-0e33-4c73-9338-c474a4368dd5%40sessionmgr104&vid=1&hid=108&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmU%3d#AN=114986626&db=mih.
O'Shea, Joseph. Gap Year : How Delaying College Changes People in Ways the World Needs. EBSCOhost, site.ebrary.com/lib/rutgers/reader.action?docID=10790488.
Wignall, Alice. "Gap Years: The World Is Your Mollusc: Should You Take a Gap Year?" InfoWeb.NewsBank.com, infoweb.newsbank.com/resources/doc/nb/news/11B232EBD88A93D8?p=AWNB.