Reflections on Working in the Centre

The most important thing I learned while working with the Centre was to embrace new methodologies. Prior to working here I had not engaged in qualitative research, and I was excited to learn from Dr. Wells as we completed the MCFD project. I enjoyed the exposure to a new area of research, and came away knowing another data analysis program (NVivo). I thoroughly enjoyed the project, and I appreciate the considerable efforts that Dr. Wells put into training those under her supervision. – Tara Carpenter



The Centre was an amazing learning opportunity! Truthfully, I probably learned more practical skills in regards to research and utilizing research tools at the Centre than I did via my classes. The opportunity to learn how to use NVIVO, as well as become reacquainted with SPSS was valuable resource. The formative evaluation & implementation work that was done at the Centre, and that I was just a small part of, is playing a big role in my current job. That work prepared me well for helping with evaluating current programs as well as beginning the creation of long-term program implementation and planning for further evaluation. The work that Centre is doing is going to play a big part in helping children and families, and that is also something that those who have an opportunity to learn and work there can be proud of. – Janice Cross



I think I owe a large part of my success to the Centre and the opportunities that it provided me with. In the Centre I learned how to conduct and write up systematic literature reviews, meta analyses, thematic analysis, and formative evaluations. Through the lab I became familiar with NVivo and RevMan data analysis tools and learned how to conduct Kappa reliability checks. I also learned about child welfare systems, the representatives for children and youth, and various health and mental health systems across North America. One thing I loved about working at the Centre was the practical application of the work we were doing. Our research had a purpose. In university we conduct research and write papers for the sake of learning, but at the Centre our research had value within a greater context and required a higher level of precision, accuracy, accountability, and transparency. The Centre was a fun place to work and had a lot of positive energy. We even had a pet spider who lived outside Andrew’s window. I loved how well everyone worked together and the constructive feedback that we got from each other.– Priscilla Healey


Geoff JohnsonWorking at the Centre gave me a real sense of the urgency that exists concerning racial disparity in child protection. Currently there is an abundance of important work that needs to be done which translates into valuable learning opportunities for students.– Geoff Johnson




During the time I worked at the Centre I learned countless skills that I still draw on today in my academic, work, and everyday life. Early on, I was given a leadership role through which I learned the ins-and-outs of project management. I learned how to organize my own time and work closely with others to reach project goals. I learned how to facilitate team meetings, to troubleshoot and problem-solve on the spot, and to bring professionalism to all my interactions. Moreover, I learned the importance of qualitative research and that people often appreciate having somebody who will just listen to them. The Centre helped me grow from student to professional. Working there taught me how to conduct myself as a real, independent researcher. I saw first hand that what we do as researchers is important and worthwhile. By providing me the leadership position, the Centre taught me not to feel limited by my age or experience level. I dove right into the deep end, and learned how to rely on myself to figure it out. That ability is what makes a great researcher. More importantly, however, is your integrity as a researcher. When you are passionate about what you do, the most difficult or frustrating times are worth the successes, and you can bet your life that whatever can go wrong will go wrong. If you keep your integrity as a researcher you can turn any pitfall into an opportunity.– Sarah McQuaid


I have been at the Centre since February of 2013, and trying to list the things I have learned seems nearly impossible to do. I have learned about research development, project management, lab infrastructure, administrative duties, and how to work alongside both small and large teams. Although there are many specific things I have learned, I think it is easier to say that the Centre has impacted me more in a global sense. It has changed the way I think about the work I do, and the approaches that I take. I feel better prepared in almost any task I take on since working at the Centre. Working at the Centre has changed my life. – Crystal Mundy


The biggest thing I think I’ve learned has been about organization and management of my roles—really being able to keep track of what I’m doing and what needs to be done to complete a project. This has translated into my academic work as well. I’m better able to complete tasks with a plan in mind. I’ve also learned about working with a team despite not having a lot of people working on the same project. My ability to communicate effectively with other people in  the Centre about computer issues and new volunteers has improved. I’m always learning new skills and improving old skills, and the Centre is a really positive environment to do both. Actually having the opportunity to do research is incredible. Before working at the Centre I only had the opportunity to learn about research—being at the Centre I got to learn to actually do research, to write it up, and do literature reviews—all extremely valuable skills. It definitely gave me an appreciation and understanding of what goes into research and the process that is involved in conducting and writing up research. – Amanda Neufeld


My time at the Centre proved to be invaluable for my career. After my time at the Centre, I returned to my position as a Provincial Practice Analyst for MCFD. The Centre drastically improved my ability to provide succinct reports from large quantities of written information. I also developed the ability to identify critical information in cases and to analyse such information. I learned to identify themes within a single case and across multiple cases. Since my experience at the Centre, I have had several compliments from my superiors on the reports I provide, as they are easy to read and understand. Prior to spending time at the Centre I was under the mistaken assumption that complicated language and sentences created a sense of professionalism in a report. I now understand that reports affect change when they are simple and easy to read, while being comprehensive and accurate. Thanks to my experience with the Centre the quality of my writing and analysis was greatly enhanced, and I am no longer afraid to tackle challenging projects. I have been able to produce concise reports even when using information regarding multiple service delivery areas and interview information from various practice analysts. Faithe Reimer


My involvement at the Centre made me a strong team player, and helped me advance my communication, writing, organization, and time management skills. More specifically, I gained experience in conducting various steps of research, from writing proposals and planning research designs, to conducting systematic and comprehensive literature reviews, to writing manuals for researchers, to solving expected and unexpected challenges in the process, to publishing the results. I also learned how to effectively use programs such as Access and NVivo, and how to manage confidential data in a secure way. Through my participation in the MCFD/SSHRC project, I became more familiar with the work done by child protection social workers in BC. I also learned first-hand about the ability of research to enhance knowledge and improve social work practice. I am more aware now of the complexity of conducting community-based research and the great learning that can be gained from such research. Overall, I learned that work environments can be supporting, enriching, respectful, and fun. Hilla Shlomi


I have learned more in my short time at the Centre than I have learned in all the rest of my studies combined, and the skills I have acquired have benefitted me in all areas of my academic career. Broadly, I have learned about child protective services, cultural competence in health and mental health, and the long term developmental role of familial instability on children. I have gained practical knowledge of teamwork, communication, and the research process. For example, I have learned to conduct systematic reviews, analyze data, submit manuscripts for publication, use software for research, and perform psychometric analyses. I have honed writing, organization, critical thinking, and communication skills. I have learned to see feedback not as criticism, but as an opportunity to do better work. I have learned the value of integrated teamwork and to negotiate toward mutually beneficial working relationships. With each new challenge my work assigns me, I see the advantages that working at the Centre has afforded me. My work at the Centre has been the most important learning experience of my academic career. – Megan Stager


I’ve learned how to work as a team to undertake and complete projects in an organized and effective way. I’ve also learned a lot about research on culture and health, from how interventions can be adapted to better suit underserved populations to how such adaptations can be isolated and evaluated to better understand their effects in improving levels of care. During my time at the Centre, I’ve improved my ability to efficiently and effectively manage multiple tasks and project components and to work towards deadlines in a more streamlined and organized manner.– Kyler Woodmass


The Centre has provided me with training in many areas that help students shine when applying to graduate school and to excel within graduate studies. I think in particular, my writing ability was honed well in several areas from academic report writing to concise proposal writing, where successful funding relied on saying something incredible in few words. This process also served to refine my ability to critically evaluate published/unpublished research towards informing Centre studies followed by professional presentations to our committee members. There were many opportunities to network with prominent local, national, and international community leaders and researchers. This allowed for participation in the forefront of research that could be used to inform policy related to the purview of the Centre. As a Metis-Filipino student, I greatly appreciated the direction and goals of the Centre in its pursuit of cultural appropriateness and the direct impact the projects we undertook had for the local community. The collaboration with community stakeholders during projects further increased the local relevancy of each of our projects to ensure their usefulness. – Andrew Vergara


Working at the Centre provided me with opportunities to develop my understanding of research and evidence based practice, applying this to my work as a frontline child protection worker in ways that I had not previously considered. Developing these skills has led to promotional opportunities for me wherein I am now responsible for promoting the integration of evidence informed practice into child welfare service delivery across a wide range of communities with the goal of improving outcomes for children and their families. During my work at the Centre I was also able to develop skills in policy analysis, project management, and report writing, which I now rely on regularly. – Alaina Hawken