ASUU Strike: Okigbo, Malam, Adeniran, Others Deepen Research Knowledge At Jacksonites Webinar Series
Despite the ongoing strike by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the pioneer Registrar of the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria-APCON (now ARCON), Prof. Charles Okigbo and other distinguished researchers of global repute were on ground to facilitate the second edition of Knowledge Hub’s six part webinar series on Mixed Methods Research (MMR) for postgraduate communication students in Nigeria as well as professionals with interest on research.
A spinoff of the Jacksonites Professional Development Series (JPDS)-an initiative under the auspices of the members of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) Mass Communication Alumni Association known as Jacksonites, Knowledge Hub’s sessions is a sustained drive to provide monthly continuing education training on mixed methods research for the benefit of all interested researchers in Nigerian universities.
Previous sessions of the webinar series covered an overview of mixed methods approaches and the applications of action research in addressing pressing social problems. This month’s session which was held on Friday September 2 covered qualitative research methods and was covered by five widely experienced research teachers in the US and Nigeria. In attendance were more than 65 participants who joined from across the country to listen to the presentations and interact with the panellists.
Professor Okigbo, formerly a senior lecturer at UNN, and now professor emeritus of strategic communication in the United States explained the necessity of using qualitative methods in mixed methods designs, while Dr. Nuhu Gapsiso of the University of Maiduguri illustrated the various ways of conducting qualitative data analysis. Professor Mustapha Malam of Bayero University provided three fascinating examples of qualitative and mixed methods applications in recent theses research by BUK students. One of his examples came from Balarabe Maikaba’s 2010 dissertation on titled “Mass Communication Research in Nigerian Universities (1980 – 2006): An Analysis of Themes and Trends. This research showed that different mass communication departments reflected different curricular emphases, despite the efforts of the National Universities Commission (NUC) to promote uniformity among all programs. UNILAG and BUK emphasized broadcasting, while UNN showed clear interests in print journalism.
The fourth speaker, Professor (Rev. Sr.) Bellarmine Ezumah of Murray State University in the US explained the philosophical foundations of qualitative methods, gave examples from her research in the US, Nigeria, and South Africa, and concluded by emphasizing that qualitative and quantitative methods are equally valuable, depending on the purposes of our research. She drew attention to the valuable use of qualitative approaches in research situations that call for deeper understanding, especially where we need to explain social reality as constructed through people’s interaction.
Drawing from her doctoral dissertation on newspaper coverage of maternal health issues, Dr. Raheemat Adeniran of Lagos State University empathized the need for quantitative researchers to pay attention to the problems of using human subjects in research. She also illustrated her versatility in the use of multiple qualitative research methods with her study of Nigerian journalists’ experiences with fact checking training. She has used thematic analysis, in depth-personal interviews, and qualitative content analysis in her various research engagements.
The presentations drew many comments and questions from the more than 65 participants, who were promised unfettered access to the complete set of the slide deck immediately after the webinar. Many participants expressed interest in further instruction of the uses of computer tools in qualitative data analysis, the sample size question in qualitative research, and the applicability of focus group discussion methods in online research settings. Professor (Rev. Sr.) Ezumah encouraged participants to be receptive to the new computer tools such as Excel, which is not complicated and comes free in some Microsoft Office packages.
These series of special instructional and demonstrative webinars are the brainchild of UNN Mass Communication Association members with Professor Chinedu Mba of Algonquin College, Ottawa, Canada as coordinator, and Dr. Chuks Enwerem of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) as moderator. The topic for next month is Quantitative Research with Dr. Kayode Mustapha Lambe, Head of Department of Mass Communication at the University of Ilorin as the special guest, and Professor Idowu Sobowale (ex-UNILAG) as the guest lecturer.
As ASUU strike enters the sixth month, continuing with no end in near sight, postgraduate students in communication and similar disciplines can take advantage of this utilitarian instructional package on continuing education and capacity building from the UNN Mass Communication Association.
As Dr. Marcel Mbamalu, UNN Mass Communication alumnus, former news editor at the Guardian, and now publisher/editor-in-chief at Prime Business Africa noted in his welcome remarks at this webinar, serious students cannot continue to wait indefinitely for the end of the strike but must seek ways to build bridges between “town and gown” by continuing to learn while the strike continues and also practise what they learn in the real world of addressing problems with data through applied action research, using qualitative and quantitative methods, as appropriate.