It seems like just yesterday that I was sitting there just like all of you listening to the same sort of speeches from the year 12’s last year, thinking, what are these people talking about? PIP’s? Major works? Hello! I just started year 11; I don’t need to be thinking about this now, its ages away. Let me tell you this, standing here with only about 5 months to go until my PIP, my major work for society and culture is due, that ages away creeps up on you very quickly.
You’re probably thinking, “5 months, what is this girl going on about, 5 months is almost half a year! Are you serious! That’s more than enough time to do an assignment. You could easily do it a week before it’s due. What is she stressing about?” If you learn only one thing from my speech make sure it’s this- That 5 months in “PIP” time is not ages away. With 5 months to go you should have already chosen your topic, have formulated your focus question and be starting to implement the methodologies you have chosen,
or at least be starting to think about the methodologies you want to use. You should definitely not think that you could start writing your PIP with only a week to go. As you probably already know PIP stands for Personal Interest Project. So it would make sense to choose a topic that you’re personally interested in. You’ve got to think that ideally, you’re going to be researching the same topic for a little under a year so it’s got to be something that’s going to maintain your interest as well as relating to Society and Culture in
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some way. The topic I chose for my PIP is Mental Illness, and my Focus question is “Is the mental illness Bipolar, attributable to the influences of nature or nurture?” Specifically I’m focusing my research on 4 adults and seeing if I can come to some conclusion about what Bipolar disorder is attributed to generally. Many different things inspired me to choose this topic, but probably the most major influence was the fact that my mum had Bipolar disorder, my Nan has bipolar and so does my Great Grandma.
Bipolar used to be something that really scared me; partly because of the stigma society generally places on mental illness, and also because of the fact that there is such a strong genetic history of bipolar in females in my family, so there is an increased chance that I may get Bipolar at some point in my life. I decided to focus on this topic, as I knew it would be something that would maintain my interest for the duration of the project, and I also thought that it would be a very good experience for me, as instead of being
afraid of mental illness it would empower me with information. I believe it will also help me to determine if I am at such a great risk of developing a Bipolar due to the genetic “nature” factors, or if developing Bipolar is more attributable to “nurture” factors, in relation to the way someone has grown up and what environments they have been subject to. Another attribution for my choice of topic was that I felt I had excellent links and access to information relating to this topic, within my micro world.
My Aunt works for Pioneer Clubhouse, a rehabilitation centre for people with mental illness, and one of our family friends used to work in the public sector and has friends with Bipolar, that advise the health minister on issues relating to mental illness. Because of these links it is much easier to obtain information and implement my methodologies. I assume by this stage of year 11 you all know what a methodology is, but in simple terms, methodologies are ways of finding out information.
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Creating a successful PIP and choosing an appropriate methodology or methodologies go hand in hand. Methodologies play a major role in your PIP but it is really important that you understand, in relation to your PIP in general, you need to allow for flexibility. Sometimes the methodologies or the topic you choose wont work out, and you may need to choose new ones or modify your original choice. The PIP is supposed to be a major learning experience, designed to move you closer towards social and cultural literacy, so naturally there will be learning from mistakes and changes made along the way. It’s important that you’re aware of this. I have decided to use interview as the primary methodology for my PIP. Specifically I intend to undertake an extensive interview process with the 4 individuals I am focusing my research on. I also wish to interview several people that interact regularly with the selected four. I feel that using interviews, as my primary research methodology will prove to be highly successful for my PIP.
As finding out weather Bipolar is attributable to nature or nurture involves more than just getting a one-word or short answer, which is usually what would be normally obtained from Quantitative research methodologies, such as questionnaires or statistical analysis. It is highly suggested that you include secondary research within your PIP to support the primary research you’ve collected. This finding and interpreting of secondary research is also classified as a methodology, it’s called Content Analysis, and this is also one of the methodologies that I will be using.
I have already looked at many books, websites and pamphlets and obtained some very useful information from them. I also intend to watch some videos on Bipolar and I aim to collect some more information from websites and books. I’ve decided to use this methodology not only because it is highly suggested that you use it, but also because I believe that it is really important to get other people’s opinions that have researched the same topic, in order to support and explain to a greater extent the research that you have gathered. Another methodology I intend to use is Participant Observation. I will do this by spending the day at Pioneer Clubhouse, the rehabilitation centre for people with mental illness that I was talking about before.
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Through doing this I hope to observe my participants interacting in certain daily situations, and I hope to be able to comment on whether there are any differences to reactions of those not suffering with Bipolar disorder, which could give insight into the ‘nurture’ influence of the disorder. Use of this method will also allow a different perspective to interview, as I will be able to see behaviours first hand, which I think will be very valuable to my research. The type of methodologies you will choose will highly relate to the type of research you are doing. My research is definitely far more Qualitative than Quantitative due to the fact that I am focusing my research on people’s experiences.
In simple terms Qualitative research relies upon open-ended questions, and types of methodologies that usually require interpretation of people’s personal opinions. Quantitative research is more straightforward research that can easily be compared to other data, as it does not require interpretation of people’s personal opinions. It involves interpretation of statistics and numbers and clear opinions of usually a large number of people.
It is estimated that 10% of Australians have Bipolar, which is a very high percentage when you think that over 20 million people live here. That’s about 2 million people who have either had or have Bipolar Disorder. Yet it is generally seen by most within our society as such a taboo subject. This is part of the reason why I didn’t choose Quantitative methodologies such as questionnaires, surveys, or statistical analysis, because I felt that many people wouldn’t give true, unbiased opinions.
So far the research I have conducted has proved quite successful. I am continually conducting content analysis and have been since late last year. I have collected quite a lot of information and visited many libraries’ including the Macquarie University library, the State library of Queensland and the University of New South Wales Library. I know it’s starting to sound like you have to turn into a major nerd once you hit year 12 Society and Culture, but it’s really not like that.
You start doing all these nerdaliscious things because you’re interested in the topic you’re researching. It’s your PERSONAL Interest Project, an assignment on something that you want to do, so you actually want to put an effort in and want to do well. I have also given a speech at Pioneer Clubhouse’s weekly staff and members meeting, introducing my PIP and myself, and proposing their involvement. I also spoke at the meeting about the possibility of conducting interviews with several of them.
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I received a very positive response from them all and also obtained several members consent to interview them. I intend to conduct these interviews in the upcoming school holidays along with my participant observation. I have also written a rough draft of questions I intend to ask during the interviews, and I aim to have a final copy of questions finished by the start of the holidays.
My topic is an extremely sensitive one and it is vitally important that I treat the participants of my research with the upmost respect and not just as research tools. My aim is to discuss my finalized interview questions with a mental health professional in order to ensure that I am asking appropriate questions and conducting ethical research, which is a very important part of social research. Furthermore I have also begun writing a letter to the Health Minister, consulting him about his opinions on my topic.
I have also written several emails to various organizations supporting people with Mental Illness, consulting them about my topic and requesting any information they would be able to forward. This has proved extremely helpful, as I have received some fantastic information from these organizations. It is extremely important to try and remain as unbiased as possible whilst conducting your research, in order to produce a reliable and proper report at the end of your research. Although it is definitely good to formulate an opinion about your topic and express how passionate you are about it, it is also essential that you try not to impose this opinion on those you are collecting information from. I expect to find that the causes of Bipolar will be attributable to both nature and nurture influences, and I feel that my research will support this hypothesis.
My reasoning behind expecting to come to this conclusion stems from the fact that if someone has a predisposition to a certain disease or disorder therefore nature factors. It does not necessarily mean that they will acquire that disease or disorder; unless they subject themselves to particular environments hence nurture factors. Take heart disease for example. A person may have a predisposition to heart disease but if they eat healthily and exercise then they have a chance of not acquiring the condition. They do however; have a higher risk of acquiring the disease than someone who doesn’t have a predisposition to heart disease. I believe the same principle applies to Bipolar Disorder, and hypothesise that my findings will support this way of thinking.
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The PIP gives you a lot of freedom to choose a topic on something that your interested in, but there is one vital piece of criteria that you need to factor in when choosing your topic, and that is that it needs to relate to Society and Culture through the concepts. My topic relates to Society and Culture through several concepts, including, the concept of Time – as both nature and nurture factors are highly influenced by time. It also refers to the concept of Socialization.
This refers to the ways you learn to become an accepted member of society via agents such as peers, family, community groups and the media. These things relate greatly to the nurture side of the argument, hence relate to my topic. My topic also relates to the following concepts for the same reasons – Media, Values, Tradition, Influence, and Institutions.
Other concepts my topic relates to include: Environment – as the person’s environment and the experiences they are subject to highly relate to the nurture component of my PIP. Family is also another concept that relates to my PIP for the same reasons. Gender is also a concept that relates to my PIP in respect to the nature part of my focus question. So right now your probably all thinking “blah blah, what is this stupid girl doing, why am I sitting here listening to these stupid speeches, wasting my time, again, I’m only in year 11, is this really necessary?”
Well the aim of my speech today wasn’t to bore you. My aim today was to inspire you guys, get you all to start thinking about your PIP’s, because it’s really not that far away. Year 11 goes so fast and before you know it your half way through year 12 giving this same speech, thinking “I really should get a move on with my PIP.” The PIP is a major part of your work in year 12; it’s worth 30% of your external mark for Society and Culture, which means that your HSC exam is only worth 70% so you need to put a lot of effort into your PIP.
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The last but probably most important piece of information I will give you today, is that you need to successfully manage your time whilst researching your PIP, because it really does slip away so quickly. My advice to you is, in term 4, your first term of year 12, when you first receive information on the PIP, make up a realistic timeline of how you want to conduct your research and complete your PIP. Set a date for when you want to have your topic chosen by, a date for when you’re first going to think about your methodologies, and a date for when you intend to implement them. It’s also a good idea to factor in some time every week that you solely devote to your PIP. You really need to use your time wisely, because you think “oh yeah, no worries I have a whole year to do this, I’m not going to start now” but then time slips away so fast and you wish you had that extra time back.
By no means am I going to lie to you, the PIP is a lot of hard work. But it definitely gives a sense of satisfaction when you’re actually out there researching something independently; using all the skills you’ve learnt. It makes you feel as though school is actually useful and the things your learning can actually be implemented into real life situations.
You get to research and report on something that you’re personally interested in, something that actually matters to you, which absolutely makes it worthwhile putting in all the effort and time the PIP demands. Although it’s a lot of work, it’s definitely something to look forward to. It’s school work, but surprisingly its fun. So start thinking now because it’s just around the corner!