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Student Highlights

Allison Tidwell, Undergraduate Researcher
27 Jan 2020
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Written By
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Military REACH Project Manager
Allison Tidwell is an undergraduate researcher for Military REACH, where she began as an intern in January 2019. Allison has contributed to the project in numerous ways (e.g., writing Translating Research Into Practice (TRIP) Reports, assisting with Research Reports, authoring Family Stories and Monthly Topics), but perhaps one of her most significant contributions has been the creation of the REACH Dictionary, which she discusses below.
The Dictionary, which contains over 200 terms, is organized into seven categories: (1) military, (2) data analyses, (3) study methods and variables, (4) theories, (5) programs and therapies, (6) errors and biases, and (7) contextual. Not only can users explore the REACH Dictionary freely, but our Research Team also tags terms throughout TRIP Reports and the links take users directly to the term/definition in the Dictionary, which can be accessed here.

1. What prompted the idea of the REACH Dictionary?

The idea for the Military REACH Dictionary was born from a simple question: “What does that mean?” When I first became a team member at REACH, I was unfamiliar with the research terminology that appears in family science publications. No readily available resource existed that included a comprehensive list of terms related to family science, research, and the military, so I resolved to create one myself!

2. What was the response from the team when you shared your idea?

The Military REACH team immediately supported my idea to create the REACH Dictionary. My team members recognized that this would be a useful resource for our audience of military families, helping professionals, military leadership, and policy makers, so we dove straight into the development process.

3. What was the process like for you to create the REACH Dictionary?

Creating the Military REACH Dictionary was a challenge, as it required months of research. This resource could not have been created without collaboration with our research and website development teams here at REACH, and I am grateful to have received their support to make my dream a reality.

4. Since the launch of the REACH Dictionary, how is it different from what you imagined?

The current model of the Military REACH Dictionary is even better than I imagined it would be. The website development team has done an incredible job to make the dictionary practical and easy to use.

5. How has the REACH Dictionary helped to advance the mission of the Military REACH project, "…to make research accessible and practical"?

Creating the Military REACH Dictionary was important to me because I realized that if I couldn’t understand what was being said in a research article or TRIP Report, then it was likely that the families, helping professionals, military leaders, and policy makers that Military REACH serves couldn’t either. To me, this was an accessibility issue: people can’t use information they don’t understand. That’s where the Dictionary comes in as a resource for our audience to improve their own understanding of research so that they may take key findings and implications and put them into practice.

6. How did your educational training in Global Studies contribute to the idea of creating the Dictionary?

The Global Studies [degree]in [the College of] Human Sciences is rooted in problem-based learning, wherein students are presented with a problem scenario, conduct research to better understand the problem, and develop practical, effective solutions to resolve the problem. Through this model of learning, I have improved my ability to anticipate needs and develop useful resources that address those needs, which ultimately led to the idea of a specially-tailored dictionary for Military REACH.

7. Being that you have cross-disciplinary experience, what overlaps have you noticed between Global Studies and Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) – the department that Military REACH is rooted in?

The similarities between Global Studies and Human Development and Family Studies goes far beyond their ultimate goal of helping people live better lives. Both disciplines ask difficult questions, use research to inform policy and programming, and strategize the use of resources to address major issues. The unique skills I have gained in both fields pair well together and have inspired me to engage in problem-solving on behalf of military families.

Students are an integral part of Military REACH because they provide our team with a new perspective, high-quality products, and invaluable assistance. Continue to look out for our Student Highlights, where we will feature students from our team and will highlight the contributions they have made not only to our team, but to the larger military community.

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