Custom Search

Sample Research Proposal on Developmentally Children in their Early Teens

INTRODUCTION

            Divorce is a fact of life, occurring in thousands worldwide (). Divorce can be a devastating experience to both the parties involved. When there are children involved, the divorce becomes a much more complicated situation since the divorced parties must think not only for themselves but for their children also.

Divorce affects children psychologically, economically and socially. In one study by Wallerstein and Lewis (1980), half of the young people, for example, were involved in serious drug and alcohol abuse, many before the age of 14. They were also likely to become sexually active as early adolescents, particularly the girls. Studies also found out that the legal system does not address the needs of children as they mature and that custody is based on the adults' wishes. The child's perspective is ignored in most cases.

            Adolescents are likely to be angry at their parents and to feel socially embarrassed by the breakup (Potter & Perry, 2004). Many children, whatever the age, seem to emerge from the experience without permanent ill effects if the parents are able to help them adjust reasonably well (Butler, et al, 2003).

            Some studies indicate that children of divorce are more likely than others to receive poor grades or become delinquent (Emery, 1994 and Finchman & Grych, 1997)). Other studies suggest that these consequences are less the result of divorce than a bad home life. If the atmosphere at home is bad, it may make little difference whether the parents remain together.

Some studies indicate that children of divorce are more likely that others to receive poor grades or become delinquent. Other studies suggest that these consequences are less the result of divorce than a bad home life. If the atmosphere at home is bad, it may make little difference whether the parents remain together.

            Although there are a lot of studies done about divorce and its effects, very few have been done to study the cognitive and mental effects that it has on the children. Therefore, this study aims to do just that in order to fill the gap in research and also to inform future policies and professional studies.

            I shall maintain confidentiality throughout this assignment, and most importantly by not disclosing the name of my organization. This is essential in order to protect the identity of clients and recognizing their right to privacy. Protection of privacy is not a privilege-it's a right.

 

RESEARCH QUESTION

This study aims to answer the question: Do teenagers have cognitive strategies or abilities that enable them to cope with their parents' divorce? Furthermore, in relation to forming cognitive strategies, this study would also like to research on whether children of divorced parents perform poorly in schools as compared to those of normal families. When we speak of cognition, this also related to how well the child performs in aspects that are functions of the brain. When children are not able to cope well with the divorce of his or her parents, chances are that his or her academic performance will be affected. Thus the researcher feels that there is a need to also study if there is a difference in the academic performance of children of divorce parents with those children who have intact families.

 

RATIONALE

            The long-lasting, ill effects of divorce have been well-documented in previous studies, national or international (). Yet, despite the many studies on divorce and its effects, there is still a lack in research regarding the cognitive and coping effect of divorce on teenage children, as well as the preservation of the mental well-being of the children. Embarking on such a study as this one would therefore be a good idea. This study would have important implications for finding better ways of helping children cope, in terms of cognitive and mental well-being, with the separation or divorce of their parents.

The long-lasting, ill effects of divorce have been well documented in previous studies, national or international. Yet despite the many studies on divorce and its effects, there is still a lack in research regarding the cognitive and coping effect of divorce on teenage children, as well as the preservation of the mental well being of the children. Embarking on such a study as this one would therefore be a good idea. This study would have important implications for finding better ways of helping children cope, in terms of cognitive and mental well-being, with the separation or divorce of their parents.

 

AIM OF STUDY/OBJECTIVE

            This paper aims to answer the question whether children in their early teens are unable to form cognitive strategies to enable them to cope with parental divorce and preserve their mental well-being. Furthermore, in relation to forming cognitive strategies, this research will also examine if children of divorce perform poorly in schools as compared to those of normal families. This will support the findings of the study since academic performance is an aspect of cognition. Specifically, the study would like to:

  1. Find out if teenagers have cognitive strategies or abilities that enable them to cope with their parents' divorce, and
  2. Compare the academic performance of children of divorce parents with those of intact families.

 

LITERATURE REVIEW

            To start off, a discussion on what the adolescence stage is all about will be given to provide a background of these participants in the study. Adolescence, which extends from the time the individual becomes sexually mature until eighteen – the age of legal maturity, is characteristically an important period in the life span, a transitional period, a time for change, a problem age, a time when the individual searches for identity, a dreaded age, a time of unrealism, and the threshold of adulthood.

            Adolescence is the period in human growth between the ending of childhood and the attainment of full physical development. During this period, anatomic development and glandular changes culminate in puberty, at about the age of puberty (Potter & Perry, 2004).

            The important social changes in adolescence include increased peer group influence, more mature patterns of social behavior, new social groupings, and new values in the selection of friends and leaders and in social acceptance. Peer pressure influences some adolescents toward anti-social behavior, especially adolescents whose parents offer little supervision (Potter & Perry, 2004).

            The major changes in morality during adolescence consist of replacing specific and moral concepts with generalized moral concepts of right and wrong; the building of a moral code based on individual moral principles, and the control of behavior through the development of conscience (Potter & Perry, 2004).

            Relationships between the adolescents and members of their families tend to deteriorate in early adolescence, though these relationships often improve as adolescence draws to a close, especially among adolescent girls and their family members. Children in their early teens are in a stage of identity and role confusion, if based on Erickson's theory of psychosocial development. According to Erickson, the chief task of adolescence is to resolve the conflict of identity versus role confusion. The desirable outcome is a sense of oneself as a unique human being with a meaningful role to play in the society. The active agent of identity formation is the ego, which puts together its knowledge of the person's abilities, needs, and desires and of what must be done to adapt to the social environment.

            The search for identity is a lifelong search, which comes into focus during the adolescence and may recur from time to time during adulthood. Erickson emphasizes that this effort to make sense of the self and the world is a healthy, vital process that contributes to the ego strength of the adult. The conflicts that are involved in the process serve to spur growth and development (Atkinson, 1996).

            In both sexes the physical changes are associated with emotional and mental development. The rapid growth at this time is likely to make heavy demands on the adolescent, and adjustment to every change that is happening to his or her body is a process that is often difficult. Reactions to situations are apt to be keener and more immediate; feelings, whether of joy or depression, to be more intense at this stage than in the past (Atkinson, 1996).

            During adolescence, the teenagers still hasn't reached their peak development – physical or mental. At this stage, teenagers are still undergoing cognitive development. Cognitive skills and development include at least three sub-areas: sensorimotor skills, concept development, and preacademic skills. Sensorimotor skills are motor movements that individuals make in interacting with the environment. As described by Piaget, these motor movements progress through a series of stages that culminate in a primitive ability to think or symbolize (Blackhurst, et al, 1993). Concept development refers to the understanding of the notions of the world. Preacademic skills include those behaviors that are necessary for beginning instruction (Atkinson, 1996).

            Parents, during this period, may be alarmed at what appears to be erratic growth and rapidly shifting moods in their children who would want love and attention one minute and then likes to be left alone the next. However, if the proper foundation of love and security has been laid during infancy and childhood, the adolescent years can be productive and rewarding for both parents and children. By gradually preparing the child for the physical changes that will take place, including giving him the necessary information in life, the shock and onset of awakening maturity can be minimized (Kozier & Erb, 2004).

            Even with understanding and sympathy, the adolescent will often still be subject to tensions, rebellion, and conflicting emotions. The period of adolescence may demand a large measure of patience and tolerance from the parents. Faced with hostile parental attitudes, the growing child may develop feelings of insecurity that find understandable but often undesirable outlets (Atkinson, 1996).

            While the adolescent may rebel against authority in the home, acceptance and approval by his group is of paramount importance to him. Few influences will shake him from conformity to teen-age standards and values. The changes from dependence upon parents and home to identification with his peer group is a natural process in the process of maturing for the adolescence (Atkinson, 1996).

            The proper attitudes on the part of the parents can be of immeasurable help in assuring that the period of adolescence is a significant and meaningful step towards maturity. Children who develop secure attachment relationships with their parents are at an advantage cognitively, socially, and emotionally compared to peers who have not developed secure attachments. Within the family law arena, the relationship between a parent and child is a sign determining residential placement and reunification (Ellis, 2002).     

            Relationships with parents are the foundation upon which children define themselves as adequate, and develop the capacity to have meaningful and intimate relationships throughout their lives. Children's relationships with their mother or father are determined by the quantity and quality of care offered by each parent and the repeated presence across time of the parent in the child's life (Atkinson, 1996).

            A child's affectional "bond" is determined by five factors: 1) persistent; 2) enduring; 3) linked to a specific person (not interchangeable with anyone else); and 4) emotionally significant. The child must also 5) maintain proximity to or contact with the significant person because distress will likely be experienced at involuntary separation. The attachment bond that forms between a child with his or her parent includes these five criteria, plus an additional critical factor, which is the child's pursuit of security and comforting in the relationship. Seeking security is the defining feature in the parent-child "attachment bond" (Ellis, 2002).

            Most young infants are thought to form more than one attachment bond. Generally, the mother and father have primary roles as attachment figures early in an infant's life. During their first year of life, children may have two or three attachment figures, who are usually family members or individuals closely involved in the child's care. These attachment figures are not equivalent, nor are they interchangeable (Ellis, 2002).

            However, many factors can affect the families and the children. The number of families suffering silent stand-offs between young people and their mothers and fathers is at an all-time high. More than half of all 15-year-old girls have difficulty talking to their fathers, while 26 per cent of boys at the same age have trouble opening up to their mothers (Weale, 2004).

            Parents know how easily highflying hope can plummet into free-falling anxiety. Well-to-do parents must grapple with an additional irony: the very good fortune that lends their hopes wings also inspires their deepest fears. And as their children embark on adolescence--that long, questing journey toward adulthood--the paradox only deepens. Wishing their offspring to attain not just worldly success but success as people--hardworking loving and capable--affluent parents sometimes wonder whether their superabundant circumstances will tip the balance for good or ill (Guernsey, 1998).

            Adolescents, when subjected to traumas usually undergo negative development. Such traumas could include divorce. Many studies have documented the effects of divorce on children.

            The resulting picture of divorce is heartbreaking. It has been shown how the trauma of parental separation can thrust vulnerable children into the role of caretaker, how it too often robs them of one parent or the other, how it tends to reduce love to a financial equation and how it can forever color their own attempts to find a life partner (Steffens, 2000).

It is important to examine the impact of family disruption during adolescence, as this developmental period has been viewed as one in which individuals are particularly vulnerable. During adolescence the individual begins to form a sense of self, seeks to develop more mature relationships with peers and family, and attempts to increase independence (McCabe, 2001).

Late adolescence and early adulthood is also a time of transitions; the individual may be completing school, beginning tertiary education, leaving home, or commencing full-time employment. Any of these changes may result in the dissolution of former peer groups, leading to a reduction in available support networks. In these situations, parental divorce may act as an added stressor and greatly impact adjustment (McCabe, 2001).

            Many adolescents initially feel betrayed by the divorce. Researchers find that about 30 percent of adolescents angrily disengage from the family (more often boys in divorced families and, as we will see later, girls in stepfamilies). They spend as little time at home as possible and actively avoid activities and communication with family members. Serious problems can result if the adolescent's disengagement is accompanied by a lack of parental supervision or monitoring. If so, they are at high risk to become involved with antisocial peers. Delinquency, alcohol and drug use, school failure, and teenage sexual activity often follow (Teyber, 2001).

            Other adolescents may become depressed and withdraw from peers and family involvement or lose their plans and ambitions for their own future. It is sad to note that dropping out of high school and being unemployed extend across diverse ethnic groups. As we will see, one of the long-term effects of divorce for some adolescents, especially females, is a diminished capacity to succeed academically and to achieve occupationally during their early adult years (Teyber, 2001).

            Researchers, theorists, and practitioners agree that the family functions as an interactive unit in which anything that affects one member will have a ripple effect on every other member. In healthy families, positive parent--child bonds build relationships that are characterized by stability and integrity, on which children can base their expectations and model their future relationships. Furthermore, parents who are content with their marital relationship are more likely to meet the challenges that they face as parents. Indeed, studies suggest that marital accord is positively related to the adjustment of children (Alatamin, 2003).

            In one study, the question of whether an only child copes better with divorce than children from bigger families is under the spotlight in a study on sibling relationships in family breakdown. The University of Queensland study is being conducted in partnership with the Family Court of Australia, with help from the Australian Institute of Family Studies. The researchers hope that through this study, there will be a better understanding of the effect of divorce on only children and siblings. The study had important implications for finding better ways of helping children cope with the separation or divorce of their parents (Way, 1998).

            In another study, the children of divorce had reached their 20s, 30s and 40s. But even in adulthood, the subjects are suffering the fallout of their parents' long-ago split. As these children of divorce set out in search of love, she reports, they find themselves struggling to overcome fears of betrayal, grappling with unrealistic ideas about love and partnership, and in many cases, shying away from intimacy altogether (Steffens, 2000).

            A prominent Bay Area researcher also conducted a groundbreaking 25-year study that adds further weight to a growing consensus about divorce: Children suffer far longer and more deeply than previously thought. The study concludes that the breakup of a family burdens children at each developmental stage: from childhood through adolescence and into early adulthood (Kato, 1997).

            Studies have shown that children of divorced parents are disadvantaged in a variety of ways as compared to children who grow up with both parents. They are less likely to perform well in school, more likely to exhibit behavioral problems, and more likely to have psychological and social difficulties. These results are surprisingly consistent for children from different social class backgrounds and different race and ethnic groups. They also persist regardless of whether the custodial parent remarries after the divorce (Hanson, 1999).

            According to research reviews, children of divorce, when compared to children from dual-parent families, exhibit more "acting-out" behaviors (e.g., aggression, conflict with school authorities) as well as maladaptive, internally directed behaviors (e.g., depression, anxiety, and withdrawal). Children of divorce also are more likely to perform less well academically, have a lower academic self-concept (but not lower self-esteem), and are less motivated to achieve. These adjustment difficulties are sometimes directly divorce-related, and sometimes due more to problems in parents' functioning (Morrison, 1999).

            There may be age-related divorce concerns that are linked to children's levels of cognitive and emotional development. Preschoolers are more likely to focus on maintaining emotional security and relationships with both parents, and to need routines in their school and home environments (Wallerstein & Kelly, 1980).

In middle childhood, issues that originated during the preschool years can be compounded by children assuming guilt, blame, or responsibility for the parents' divorce, or by children holding unrealistic expectations about their ability to influence parental behavior, such as bringing their parents back together. High school students are more likely to deal with divorce-related concerns cognitively, and to express these concerns in terms of their own identity, capacity for relationships, and life-choice issues (Morrison, 1999).

            Data from the National Survey of Families and Households that examined whether parental conflict prior to divorce can explain why children with divorced parents exhibit more academic and adjustment difficulties than children with parents who stay together show that children whose parents divorce are exposed to more conflict and acrimony than children who grow up in stable marriages, and this may explain why the former do less well than the latter (Hanson, 1999).

The relationship between marital conflict and adolescent adjustment is particularly complex because of the difficulty of isolating the effects of age and exposure to conflict, and other historical variables. Marital conflict in families with adolescents is unlikely to have arisen suddenly and may have already disrupted many facets of family functioning. However, apart from these complex factors, in a few longitudinal studies, researchers have suggested that the association between marital fighting and childhood problems may become stronger with age, in part because children seem to become sensitized to conflict with repeated exposure (Gilliom, 2004).

The results indicate that parental conflict is partly but by no means completely responsible for the association between divorce and child welfare. The results also suggest that, for four of the sixteen measures of child well-being examined, children exposed to high levels of parental conflict are neither better off nor worse off, on average, when their parents divorce, while those exposed to low levels of parental conflict appear to suffer severe disadvantages when their parents separate. This suggests that, in some areas, marital relations prior to divorce help determine when the consequences of divorce are particularly harmful for children and when the consequences of divorce are relatively benign (Hanson, 1999).

Conflict between parents has proven to be an important predictor of adjustment problems in children. This predictor is true for a wide range of childhood problems including internalizing problems and externalizing problems. The effect is found in both clinic and nonclinic populations, and can be found in intact families as well as divorced or divorcing ones (Gilliom, 2004).

Two promising frameworks for investigating the direct impact of conflict on children have been proposed: (a) the cognitive-contextual model and (b) the emotional-security hypothesis. In the cognitive-contextual model, observed conflict between parents is proposed to be a stressor that elicits affective, cognitive, and behavioral responses as the child attempts to understand and cope with the event. The three types of cognitions, described as the most important in appraising an interparental conflict episode, are assessments of threat, attributions regarding cause and blame, and perceived ability to cope with the conflict. The final stage in the child's response is an actual attempt to cope with the conflict (e.g., by intervening), to cope with the negative affect elicited by it, or both (Gilliom, 2004).

Although many studies have focused on the impact of divorce on the adjustment of children, some have also examined its impact during adolescence. The research indicates that the reactions of children and adolescents to their parents' divorce differ qualitatively (Wallerstein & Kelly, 1980).

            Fewer adolescents experience parental divorce because most divorces occur when children are younger (divorce is most common when children are four to seven years of age). When divorce does occur, however, the responses of adolescents tend to vary greatly.

On the one hand, some adolescents may adjust to the family disruption better than younger children. Because they are becoming more independent and removed from family relations, they do not need as much affection and guidance as younger children.

Some adolescents cope effectively with the divorce by distancing themselves from tensions in the parental relationship and becoming more involved in their own ambitions and plans for the future. For these adolescents, the main concern is about their future. In particular, they often worry about how the marital failure will influence their own ability to have a good marriage or go to college. Like older school-aged children, adolescents are likely to have problems when they are not free to pursue their own interests but are pulled into "loyalty conflicts" and feel pressured to take sides or choose one parent over the other (Teyber, 2001).

This difference is possibly due to cognitive maturity, as adolescents may be more capable of understanding the reasons behind a parental separation than are children. This cognitive maturity may also lead parents to rely on their adolescent offspring to provide support and advice, resulting in increased pressures and responsibilities (McCabe, 2001).

            Refreshingly, a few adolescents show a positive developmental spurt in response to the marital disruption. These young people are often helpful to their parents and younger siblings during this family crisis. Their own maturity and compassion can be seen as they participate constructively in family decisions, help with household responsibilities, and provide stable, nurturing relationships to younger siblings. However, this enhancement occurs infrequently, and when it does it is found almost exclusively for daughters and not for sons, as is found out in a study (Teyber, 2001).

            Children experiencing their parents divorce tend to undergo depression. Depression in younger children tends to emphasize their loss of self-esteem or being love-worthy; older children tend to suffer more from a critical evaluation of their own abilities, a loss of initiative, and diminished feelings of self-efficacy. Parents may observe signs of depression in their children in four categories of behavior, including cognitive behavior.

Children may anticipate failure, saying, for example, "I can't do this." They expect failure in any arena—with friends, in sports, or at school. Children younger than nine or ten years of age tend to have more emotional and physical signs of depression; older children tend to have more of the motivational and cognitive symptoms (Teyber, 2001).

Parents do have some options and some choices to make it better for their kids and some of that is just good logic. It's important for the kids to have a relationship with both parents, provided that both parents are suitable parents. And kids shouldn't have to have loyalty conflicts. Parents should not act out their anger through their children. When parents are able to cooperate, the children fare better. Parents need to set aside their guilt, and be honest about their own mistakes. That way the kids won't end up feeling that divorce is an unpredictable disaster, one that "can come like a bolt from the blue (Steffens, 2000).

            Several explanations have been proposed to account for the association between divorce and child welfare. Many accounts emphasize factors that are a consequence of the divorce transition itself, such as loss of income, family stress, father absence, and diminished parenting. Other explanations focus on the role played by family processes preceding divorce in influencing child development (Hanson, 1999).

            While parents may be devastated or relieved by the divorce, children are invariably frightened and confused by the threat to their security. But absorbed in their own problems, parents may become less communicative or affectionate with their children or fail to discipline them consistently. That's when the children begin to feel worried. Although every child's situation in divorce is unique, psychologists believe there are universal reactions that can be reliably predicted on the basis of factors like age, sex and the level of the development (Kaur, 2004).

            A built-in transition time is necessary that focuses on the child after a divorce. Further, it must be recognized that parenting is more complex and stressful once a family breaks apart and that parents should not divorce at all ``if they don't have a really good reason (Kato, 1997)

Based from the literature search that has been done, compared with children in intact, cohesive families, researchers have documented that children in nontraditional family structures (e.g., children of divorce) demonstrate poor levels of adjustment, characterized by aggressive, violent, and antisocial behavior, conduct disorders, adjustment difficulties, communication problems, low self-esteem, and high rates of dropping out of school, sexual activity, and substance misuse.

Similar findings have emerged in studies of children of divorced parents, children of widowed families, adopted children, children from single-parent families, and children who are living with one biological parent or one stepparent.

            When teenagers do get a hard time forming cognitive strategies and preserve their mental well-being after the divorce, this could be attributed to a variety of factors, found out by researchers, which can be summed up as follows:

  • Loss of a parent. Children's parents are their anchors. Parents provide the structure for children's daily lives, and even when parents are not functioning very well, children depend on them for a sense of security that enables them to cope with their developmental tasks,
  • Interparental conflict. Previous research has indicated that conflict between parents can be seriously harmful to children, particularly if they are directly exposed to the conflict, and
  • Diminished parenting. Many believe that when children from divorced families exhibit problems, this happens primarily because the divorce has brought about a deterioration in the quality of parenting provided by the custodial parent.

The adolescence period is a crucial time, as is outlined in the previous paragraphs. Situations can drastically affect the development of the teenager at this stage. Complex situations such as divorce have been documented to leave ill effects on the child. Given the fact that a teenager is still in the process of development, divorce is said to affect the level of cognitive functioning of a child thus leaving a child sometimes disrupted after an episode of divorce. The cognitive functioning of the child can be assessed by how well he responds and find solutions to situations and how the child performs in tasks that require cognitive abilities.

 

METHODOLOGY

This part of the assignment will focus on the steps I must undertake to complete my research. I will explain the proposed techniques and procedures I plan to use to gather and analyse my data. I will also examine some issues involved in choosing my approach and what factors I shall consider in choosing my techniques.

 

Study Design

This particular meta-analysis will have to employ the use of case study methodology of quantitative research. In this study, the researcher seeks to explore how divorce would influence the cognitive behavior and well-being of teenagers by observations and interviews.

Rather than using large samples and following a rigid protocol to examine a limited number of variables, case study methods involve an in-depth, longitudinal examination of a single instance or event: a case. They provide a systematic way of looking at events, collecting data, analyzing information and reporting the results. As a result the researcher may gain a sharpened understanding of why the instance happened as it did, and what might become important to look at more extensively in future research. Case studies lend themselves to both generating and testing hypotheses (Flyvbjerg 2006). Thus, case studies should not be confused with qualitative research and points out that they can be based on any mix of quantitative and qualitative evidence (Yin 2002). Aside, those studying the case are led to a specific point in time and circumstance where they become a 'participant' in the case (Yin 2002). The case study offers a method of learning about a complex instance through extensive description and contextual analysis. The product articulates why the instance occurred as it did and what one might usefully explore in similar situations as these can generate a great deal of data that may defy straightforward analysis (Yin 2002).

The survey questionnaire to be used in this study will point out to the comments and experiences of divorced parents and their children with regards to the child's ability to form cognitive strategies. Furthermore, the teachers will also be asked rate the participants regarding their academic performance. The basic methodology requires that the data from reports through a survey for parents, teenagers and teachers in terms of a Likert scaling technique. For the survey, a total of 50 families with teenage children will be used as participants.

In this kind of study the study population is the target population. These are the teenagers whose parents have undergone divorce. All the selected participants will be examined, observed, and questioned through questionnaires and personal diagnostic interviews with regards to the dependent and independent variable. In the analysis, the prevalence rate will be computed. The hypothesis of relationship between divorce and teenagers being unable to develop cognitive strategies and preserve their mental well-being may be generated.

                Quantitative research uses methods adopted from the physical sciences that are designed to ensure objectivity and reliability. These techniques cover the ways research participants are selected randomly from the study population in an unbiased manner, the standardized questionnaire and the statistical methods used. (Steckler, McLeroy, Goodman, Bird, McCormick, 1992) The strengths of the quantitative paradigm are that its methods produce quantifiable, reliable data that are usually generalizable to some larger population. Quantitative measures are often most appropriate for conducting needs assessments or for evaluations comparing outcomes with baseline data. (Steckler, McLeroy, Goodman, Bird, McCormick, 1992)

 

SAMPLING PROCEDURE

About 50 families with early teens will be recruited for the study through a family court in the area and from divorced families being referred for counseling. A comparison sample of families not undergoing separation or divorce would also take part. Subjects with no previous emotional or psychological problems will be chosen. The families will be middle-class or upper-middle-class found through a family court judge.

When a certain family has two or more children that are eligible for the sample size, the researchers will have to pick only one child to include in the study. Selecting one adolescent per family is a problem that involves choosing the adolescent to be included. To follow the strategy of taking only the oldest child would over-represent older children and restrict the age range. Therefore the researcher would have to choose a child at random--a popular solution. However, although this has been done, it still raises the question of which random choice to use.

The target sample for the adolescent study will consist of children at or between the ages of ten and eighteen regardless of whether they are male or female. These participants have to be studying in school. The researchers of this study believes that it would be possible for children in this age range to talk to the researchers and answer the test questionnaire cogently about their current life situations and their with respect to the divorce.

 

DATA COLLECTION

The teenager participants will complete a self-report paper-and-pencil measure of psychological functioning in a large group-testing environment, this means that they will have to answer the self-report in an environment where they are not alone. The 50 participants, from the 50 divorced families will be later assessed with a structured diagnostic interview in private offices. Please take not that by participants, it pertains to the teenagers. The same procedure will be done to the 50 teenagers from intact families not undergoing separation or divorce.

The participants from the divorced group will be given measures of cognitive appraisal of parents' divorce, and emotional security to complete at their convenience. Participants were instructed to complete the measures related to their parents divorce only if they had clear memories of their parents living together and during the divorce. When the teenager has no clear memories of his or her parents living together or no clear memories of the divorce, then it defeats the purpose of the study which is to identify the effect of divorce itself on the cognitive ability of the teenager.

In relation to the second research question, the educational achievement levels of the children are measured in two ways. First, the researcher will obtain end-of-second-semester scores for the following 10 subject areas: religion, expressive language, comprehension, dictation, handwriting, grammar, science, mathematics, geography, and nature. Each set of scores will be measured on a 100-point scale.

Second, the subject area teachers will be asked to rate the children with respect to the following 10 outcomes: achievement in science, mathematics, religion, nature, and physical education; attendance record, effort spent on school tasks, age-appropriate behavior, ability in comprehension, and happiness level in school. Each of these ratings will be made on a 5-point scale ranging from extremely below average of peers (1), moderately below average of peers (2), average of peers (3), moderately above average of peers (4), to extremely above average of peers (5). All teachers will be blind to the hypotheses of the study so that their ratings will not be affected subjectively.

 

DATA ANALYSIS/STATISTICAL CONSIDERATION

For the purpose of statistical ways and its analysis, the Likert scale method produces means and standard deviations for the responses given. It also prints the minimum and maximum value. Likert scale questions are appropriate to print means for since the number that is coded can give us a feel for which direction the average answer is. The standard deviation is important as it give us an indication of the average distance from the mean. A low standard deviation would mean that most observations cluster around the mean. A high standard deviation would mean that there was a lot of variation in the answers. A standard deviation of 0 is obtained when responses to a question are the same. Henceforth, prior to computing a scale that is the mean of a series of questions, first assign points to each question so that the reverse wording questions will be assigned the opposite number of points than the positively worded questions. The median is known as a measure of location it tells where the data are. As stated in, we do not need to know all the exact values to calculate the median; if we made the smallest value even smaller or the largest value even larger, it would not change the value of the median. Thus the median does not use all the information in the data and so it can be shown to be less efficient than the mean or average, which does use all values of the data. To calculate the mean add up the observed values and divide by the number of them. The total of the values obtained in divided by total number to give a mean.

The process is conveniently expressed by the following symbols:

The range is an important measurement, for figures at the top and bottom of it denote the findings furthest removed from the generality. However, they do not give much indication of the spread of observations about the mean. The standard deviation is a summary measure of the differences of each observation from the mean. If the differences themselves were added up, the positive would exactly balance the negative and so their sum would be zero. Consequently the squares of the differences are added. The sum of the squares is then divided by the number of observations give the mean of the squares, and the square root is taken to bring the measurements back to the units we started with. The division by the number of observations of the number of observations itself to obtain the mean square is because degrees of freedom must be used.

With regards to the ratings given by the teachers, the means and standard deviations pertaining to end-of-semester scores will be tabulated to generate results. Because these scores represented ranked data (i.e., using the 5-point rating scale), it will not be appropriate to use parametric statistical analyses.

 

DATA QUALITY       

The data to be gathered and analyzed will be of quality and will be beneficial not only for the children of divorced parents and their parents, but also for the health care community. The results of the study could provide health care professionals, along with the parents, with the best way to provide individualized support for the children of divorced parents that will enable them to develop cognitive strategies that help them cope with the divorce and preserve their mental well-being. This way, the divorced parents of children in their early teens would also be able to get ready for what to expect and what to do in their particular situation.

            However, the findings to be reported here arise from a cross-sectional design, making it difficult to determine whether the cognitive and mental problems exhibited by the children from divorced households were directly caused by the divorce itself, or whether the children, even before the divorce of the parents, were already developmentally and mentally lagging. In other words, differential selection of participants is a threat to the internal validity of the findings.

In addition, maturation is a threat to internal validity to the extent that the children from divorced families were more likely to exhibit dysfunctional behaviors before the onset of the divorce than were their counterparts. One way to rule out this concern would be to use a pretest--posttest study on children of the divorced families and compare their developmental outcomes with a control group of children from children of normal families not undergoing divorce or separation.

 

ETHICAL ASPECTS

            In all countries, research works that involve human subjects and animals should be carried out in accordance with high ethical standards set by various ethics committee. The privacy and dignity of every individual involved in the research should be protected. The participants should be assured confidentiality and anonymity through identification coding and reports of aggregate data. The participants involved should also be notified of the aims, methods, expected outcome, benefits and potential hazards of the research conducted.

Mauthner (1997) has recommended that researcher should treat children's as subjects, rather than objects of research and this is the principle I which to hold throughout the study. I plan to approach families initially, by sending letters to parents, enclosing a letter to the child, asking if parents would pass it on to their children or discuss it with them, including their views on participation. Depending on the outcome, this would then be followed by phone calls asking for appointments and would provide me with the opportunity to elaborate on what I had said about myself in the letter and the purpose of my research. Grinnell (2001) recommended that participants must receive adequate information about the research before consenting. 

I think it would be appropriate to approach families in this way, because parents would act as gatekeepers, if they saw fit, and securing their agreement is what Ritchie & Lewis (2003) called "obtaining informed consent". Although children cannot be expected to understand the research study sufficiently to give legally binding permission for their own participation, their parents or legal guardian (with PR) must provide such permission for them. However, ethically, children may reasonably be expected to want to give their opinion, they may or may not agree with the permission to participate, but if they do agree, this agreement process is referred to as 'assent' rather than 'consent'. Above all Grinnell (2001) has recommend that whenever possible, researchers should always involve both parents (or guardian) and children in consent and assent process.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE FUTURE AND CONCLUSION

Each year, a large new group of growing teenagers joins the growing number of those whose parents have divorced. For a non-specified period of time, these teenagers must adapt to life in a single-parent family. From the child's standpoint, the loss of the familiar everyday presence of the parent who has left the household is often a major event that initiates a cascade of consequences, usually negative consequences.

Although many families attempt to make up for this loss by arranging visitation with the "outside" parent, it is a very different situation for the child to spend time with the two parents in two different households than it was to see them together in the same setting. In addition, the child's new life may involve a change in neighborhood or school, new caretakers while the custodial parent works longer hours, and a substantial drop in standard of living.

            There is, however, one piece of guidance that everyone seems to agree on based on the literature search that has been done: Parents who do divorce should explain clearly the reasons for their decision and work together to minimize its effects on their children. It is inevitable that divorce will almost always have its negative effects on the children. But these could be stopped with the proper strategy and the aid of the parents and other health care professionals.

Studies have generally indicated that divorce can have a detrimental impact on both short-term and long-term adjustment. Children's responses to divorce are not uniform; some children may be indistinguishable from children of intact families, while others may experience serious emotional behavioral, or academic adjustment problems.

Consequently, in the future, with relation to the limitations of this study that have been discussed, researchers should use multiple data sources to assess the teenager's levels of functioning (before and after the divorce), including teacher, parental, and child ratings of behavioral problems and scholastic adjustment. In addition, researchers should investigate the role of resilience and coping among children living with consideration of various family structures. In the proposed study, the family structures prior to the divorce that could have contributed to the teenager's cognitive development and mental well-being is not included.

Finally, future investigators should compare pre-divorce and post-divorce families with respect to the level of parenting styles and the development of the child. This additional information could help researchers to determine better the nature of the group differences and trends found in the present study.

Much has been written concerning the adjustment that children have to undergo when their parents have divorced. These children have been compared with children in non-divorced families to see what kinds of adjustment problems, if any, occur when parents have separated. There is evidence that parental children do, indeed, increase the risk of several forms of maladaptation in children. But popular articles on the subject not only exaggerate the risks but oversimplify the issues.

From the literature search that has been done regarding studies on divorce and its effects on the children. Many studies have focused on the impact of divorce on the adjustment of children, some have also examined its impact during adolescence. The researches indicate that the reactions of children and adolescents to their parents' divorce differ qualitatively. This difference could possibly be attributed to cognitive maturity, as adolescents may be more capable of understanding the reasons behind a parental separation than are children. This cognitive maturity may also lead parents to rely on their adolescent offspring to provide support and advice, resulting in increased pressures and responsibilities.


No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails
 

Recent Research Proposal Examples