Psych Sex Group Project Diary

Group Meeting 1

  1. A spider diagram / mind map was created, with the project title at the centre
    This endeavoured to map the areas of interest which fell under the purview of this; and hence subject topics which could potentially be researched
  2. The research groups contact details were created
  3. A yahoo group, and a collaborative wiki we’re created
    These tools were created in order to co-ordinate the groups research programme, to compile data and research sources, and to facilitate conglomeration of the groups research strands and information
  4. A research program was outlined and agreed upon
  5. Tasks were assigned to various group members

Group Meeting 2

Censure Process

A discussion took place over whether to write up a formalised censure process for absenteeism etc. Ultimately the group decided against this.

Breakdown of Project for Ethics Proposal and Penary

A rough breakdown of the project was created for the ethic proposal and plenary session

  • Social and Health Axis

Interviews with Health Professionals
Interviews with Legal Professionals

  • Psychological / Psychological Axis

Professional Interview
Questionnaire for young adults (25 yrs old approx)
Questionnaire for 6th year students (17 and above)

  • Educational Axis

Interview with Professionals
Curriculum Review & Comparison

  • Cultural Axis

Focus Group, using multi-media to stimulate group discussion

Whats needed

For Plenary Session the following things are needed

  • Slide Show (Power Point Presentation)
  • Title of project, Aims of Project

4 Points of research approach
Group Evolution, History and Tools

  • It was decided that each member of the group should write a reflexive commentary, prior to the beginning of research – in view of the qualitative nature of the research
  • This reflexive essay would focus on the researchers personal opinions on

Behaviour – age that first sex should begin, sex before marriage, relationships, homosexuality etc
Sex Education – what should be taught, attitude to discussion of sex
Age of Consent – for which orientations

And include information about researchers background, experiences post school and pre-college, and religious beliefs


5. Each group member reported on the information they had gathered / the tasks they had completed

The tasks completed / information gathered were as follows..

Lois and Chiara

Contacted Sheila Green
(expert in female developmental psychology)

Sheila provided suggestions

  • Use clinical terminology in classroom environment
  • Ask any kind of questions – as participants will be over the age of consent

age 17 & 25 (as previously decided) are ideal – no consent needed etc

  • Make it clear uncomfortable questions can be skipped (as research is qualitative, statistical power will not be a problem)
  • Focus groups are a good idea – select volunteers rather than using the whole class surveyed

Audio recording better than video

  • Record of conference of sexual development which occurred recently will be made available to the group
  • Sheila will co-operate with interview as will her colleagues
  • Maturity testing – impractical and unreliable – how would base rate be judged

Group response: agreed, would depend on theoretical approach, although we can report previous findings as compare (with caveats), contrast we are primarily interested in is knowledge & behaviour

  • Sheila produced first research of this kind (in Ireland) about 20 years ago

Sourced Professionals for Interview
Social / Developmental

Professor Sheila Green
Head of Trinity College Children’s development research unit

Medical / Biological

Dr. Hilary Hoey
Professor of Pediatrics and endocrinology in the Trinity Medical School. Primarily interested in girls physical development – puberty etc.

Legal / Medical

Dr. Caroline Hunter
BROOK CLINIC (UK) Good for comparison with Irish situation

Professor Ivana Bacik
Reid Professor of Criminal Law, Criminology and Penology, Labor politician, abortion campaigner


Dr.Paula Maycock
“Children center” Trinity. Expert in education.


Sorcha, Stephen & Brendan

Examined Midland Report
– which recommended ISSP – 1994 Social research project
– violence and sexual abuse reports referenced – but only some are available, others must be requested / purchased directly from researchers

Examined – National survey of sexual attitudes and lifestyles (1990, 2000 Natsali)


Examined past years report (On topic of poker)
Prepared structure and style of final report


Examined library literature on sexual behavior in teenagers
Identified useful books – see other page
Photocopied Relavent chapters

Keira, Eimear & Niamh

Collected information on Irish and British Sex Education Curriculum

  • Identified no government mandated primary sex education
  • Although private sex education instructors are hired by schools on a case by case basis (Brendan

might have more information on this)

  • Suggested asking primary schools for more information
  • Irish Secondary Level Program is – Social Personal and Health Education

Contains a subsection – Relationship and Sexual Education

Designed to tackle development and sex issues

  • Seems on initial consideration not to tackle specific biological or sex related issues

Encountered difficulties due to mid-term holidays in identifying how this program is applied in different schools

  • British Second Level Program is – Personal Social and Health Education
  • Focuses primarily on biological changes, contraception, abortion etc

Content of Irish Curriculum will be requested from Dept Education

  • Chiara noted that Italian sex education consists of visits by several medial professionals to the school, who answer questions (in teachers absence)

Group Meeting 3


Will aquire..

  • UK Survey, National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles
  • Dr Thomas’s Trinity Student Sexual Survey
  • Sexual behavior in Britian, early heterosexual experience


Researched qualitative research.
Proposed a post positive paradigm using grounded research
Informed group about use of wiki research diary, and suggested uploading reflexivity to wiki.


Tasks completed in this meeting

  • 2 groups formed – ethical proposal and questionaire
  • Reflexivity – questionaire and proposal for Thursday
  • Ethical proposal was fleshed out with the group

Tasks assigned for next week

  • Everyone- reflexivity to be completed. Should include the following headings:

1.Social status/ background, life experiences, religion 2. Attitudes: sex before marraige, sexual behaviour, age of consent, sexual education, contraception, abortion, age of first sexual experience, sexual orientation

  • Gareth and Conor – Presentation and Ethics
  • Steven – Gather Surveys to serve as inspiration & guideline for our survey
  • Chiara and Lois – Presentation
  • Keira, Lois, Brendan – Work on Survey
  • Eimer – research post positivist research, and grounded theory
  • Group Boundry Exercise performed

Values of group

  • reponsibility and mutual respect
  • no judgemental positions
  • listening
  • flexibility
  • honesty in research
  • punctuality
  • understanding (of others difficulties)
  • communication (of own difficulties)
  • honesty
  • clarity
  • importance of ‘collective’

Proceedures for encountering problems or potential abseenteeism

  • inform group immediately of difficulties which may interfere with work
  • no complaining outside group
  • send a mail if you’ll be absent
  • any problems and concearns should be ackknowledged and voiced in a responsible and constructive manner

Vision for group research

  • Ray Full Prize
  • Maintain communication and work well together
  • Learn more about sexuality in Ireland
  • Honing Research skills for 4th year project

Timetable Agreed

  • finish project by easter, end of hillary term – for editing and polish before Friday week 2 of trinity term

Email update from Steven

Shay wasn’t in today when we checked. I’ve emailed him and asked for a meeting. Dr. Thomas hasn’t got back to me either. I suggest that we email the original researchers of the studies and ask them for their questionnaires. I think this is important because we can’t really move on with our work until we have a basic draft of our questionnaire. Here are the details of the pervious research that we want the questionnaires from:

1. The Trinity Sexual Health Survey that Chiara replied to last year AND the survey carried out in 2002 of 2000 undergraduates, (interesting results: “80% of college students are sexually active, 50% students always use condoms, 25% of students sometimes use condoms and an alarming number of students never use condoms”)

2. The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes & Lifestyles (NATSAL) conducted in Britan in 1990 and the NATSAL2 conducted in 2000 (referenced in the National Scoping Study, available in the files section of our yahoo group)

3. Sexual behaviour in Britain: early heterosexual experience , By: Wellings, Kaye, Nanchahal, Kiran, Macdowall, Wendy, McManus, Sally, Erens, Bob, Mercer, Catherine H., Johnson, Anne M., Copas, Andrew J., Korovessis, Christos, Fenton, Kevin A., Field, Julia, Lancet, 0099-5355, December 1, 2001, Vol. 358, Issue 9296

Correspondence to: Kaye Wellings (e-mail:

I have uploaded this report to our yahoo group.

Group Meeting 4

Shay Meeting

Wednesday 1.00 Shay Cafrey meeting – Eimer, Kiera, and Lois will go

Eimer and Chiara

  • Found emotional maturity scale and love scale
  • may be of use for ideas questionaire – however, costs 35 euro
  • will request funding for this


  • confirmed draft questionaire is enough for plenary

Kiera and Steven

  • have found example questionaires


  • Working areas for questionaire
  • knowledge, attitude, behavior, maturity
  • although sheila green has stated that statistical analysis of maturity scales will not be possible, this shouldn’t be a problem with qualitative


  • spoke to doctor thomas about trinity survey (which included sexual behavior section)
  • will appraoch health promotion unit of Irish government


has ethics almost completed – petting research question into 30 words is talk time plenary presentation

Research Question

  • synopsised*
  • Consulative exporatory research into sexuality among young irish adults – a review of community educational and health services – recommendations relating to social / health policy, psychological / physiological development, educational and cultural influences

Group Meeting 5

Eimer and Lois

– met with Shay Cafree

    • Maturity and puberty aspects may not be relevent and may be difficult to impliment
    • may be problems with retrospective memories of behavior – in contrast to Sheilas view
    • even more true of maturity


getting handbook of sexual measures


may be a difficulty using questionaires – tension between potential for plagarism vs reliability of reconstituted questionaire


we should be ok without draft questionaire for plenary session


Shay advised in mailing people for interviews etc – state our research project and supervisors first – only mention student project at end

Other Issues Discussed

  • Presentation finalised
  • Group decided to refer to puntuality as an issue in plenary

Plenary Session Thoughts

  • Using standardised tests from outside sources, with good reliability etc – is ok
  • Actual implementation on English vs Irish Curriculum -> could be most important part of our study
    • Katrina pointed out that a case is currently in the high court, where a parent is fighting for the right not to have her child recieve sex education
  • Professor Fuller recommended – should do early teenage focus group (13 – 14 yrs approx); if possible, despite potential difficulties getting parental consent
    • Barbara Hannigan, a counselling psychologist in the department, is an experienced co-ordinator of focus groups
    • may be able to help
  • Stephen – possible social facilitation / normalisation of promiscuity etc springing from education => UK vs Ireland levels of STI and teen pregnancy
  • Feedback at end of report for participants an important part of grounded research – Can we do a debriefing session(s)?
  • Importance of memos (like these!)

Meeting 6

  • Questionaire compilation will be begun on Thursday

– based on the three questionaires we have collected

  • We may take a 2 week break from next week to get essays, study, exams and career work out of the way


  • Everyone should contribute to introduction
  • in narrative and bullet point form
  • and then we’ll fuse contributions together

Stereotypical report format

  • For intro – format for writing a lab report is as follows

A – brief dicussion of hypothesis

B – Summary of literature and theoretical modesl, how does this research contribute

C – How research will be conducted, IV’s, DV’s

D – Formal statement of hypothesis

Format for this research

  • We won’t directly replicate this – instead writing the introduction for each section or axis separately

Cultural – Lois and Connor

Psychological / Physiological – Stephen, Gareth, Chiara

Education – Brendan and sorcha

Social / Health Policy – Lois and Conor

Further points

  • Meetings just on Thursday from now on
  • Next presentation will primarily consist of the work we’ve outlined today
  • Objectives for January
  1. Methodological tools completed – interview questions, questionaire, focus group preparation / design
  2. introduction & methodology fleshed out
  3. provisional agreement from schools
  4. chiara – will get interrater group of 17yr olds together to discussion questionaire language to ensure validity


Group Meeting 7

  • A suggestion was made to carry out a group evaluation excersize – this was postponed in order to focus on the detail of the project
  • Group split into sub groups to work on interviews, contacting schools and the questionaire


  • Questionaire deals with 3 main sections – Attitudes, Knowledge and Behaviour
  • Ideally to contain questions related to all 4 axis of study
  • Lots of duplication seems to exist between the questionaires we have compiled – in addition to the duplication within each survey (e.g.: lie scales)
  • Questionaire design from ‘National Survey on Contaception and Pregnancy’ seems preferable – clearer and easier to fill in
  • Henry J Keiser family foundation questionaire – contains questions on all three sections of interest
    • With a specific focus on contraception and disease
  • Some disagreement exists as to whether we should have a lie scale – with some members of the group feeling that it would contribute to validity, whilst others were of the opinion that it was transparent, and would lead to the final questionaire being too long
  • It was decided to avoid trying to measure maturity as a section – as reported behaviour to a degree reflects maturity; and there is a great danger of subjective judgements by the group
  • The suggestion was made to bring up in focus groups, the medias recent unreliable reporting of an aids patient who recovered from the disorder


  • A question arose as to the specific methodological approaches allowed under the auspices of the project – members of the group were previously unaware of the methodological processes and epistemological roots of grounded theory
    • The questionaire sub-group compared the difficulties of quantitative (e.g.: experimental power, and the reliability / representativeness of statistical findings) and qualitative methodologies (i.e.: specifically the difficulties of utilising questionaires in a grounded research paradigm
    • It was decided to consult Professor Fuller in relation to these issues
  • Professor Fuller emphasised an integrative / exploratory / non-directive (in relation to methodologies) approach; noting that (for the purposes of this project) it is more important to use methodologies which successfully represent and examine the samples studied – than to find representative and significant data
  • The sub-group decided to proceed on the basis of a semi-qualitative, integrative approach
  • All present felt that the examination of methodology had been rewarding, and helped ease uncertainty about the direction of research
  • It emerged that each member of the group had been defined as idealist by the Keirsey Temperament Scale

Group Meeting 8

  • Everyone worked on the questionnaire.

Divided up into groups
Each group reviewed one of the template questionnaires – selected which questions should be included in questionnaire
Questionnaire compiled in computer room

Question Headings

  1. Demographics
  2. Age of Consent
  3. Contraception
  4. Sexual Experience
  5. STD’s
  6. Peer Pressure
  7. Sex Education

Plenary Session 2


  • Progress since last presentation
  1. Questionaire compiled
  2. Professionals contacted
  3. Primary Organisation of Groups
  4. Ethics Form compiled
  5. Decision to have introduction / methodology completed by the start of next term
  • Group Processes
  1. Split into sub groups for specific tasks
  2. Leniency in time management – as workload outside the group has increased
  • Focus Groups – primarily 6th year class students
    • Ideally with 1 group of older (college age) young adults, and 1 group of young teenagers
  • Visual Stimuli – Film, TV, Magazines, Music Videos
  • Possible Sources (media for focus groups)
  1. Sexual Experience – ‘OC’ – Seth and Summer talking about sex
  2. Sexual Education – Connor has sourced Sexual Education videos from the 1950’s
  3. Contraception – ‘Friends’ – who gets the condomn scene
  4. STD’s – ‘Sex and the city’ Samantha getting aids test
  5. Peer Pressure – ‘Kids’ – Scene from film, boy talking girl into bed
  6. Age of concent – ‘Sex in the City’ – Samantha sleeping with 17year old
  7. Homosexuality – ‘One Tree Hill’ – Character ‘coming out’ to her parents
  • Additional Sources – Magazine pictures
  • Focus Groups need to a) provoke debate about sexual issues overall, b) provide a perspective on the role of the media in provoking behaviour
    • How representitive is the medias portrayal of adolescent sexuality
    • How does it effect teenagers?


  • In pilot survey group – ask each specific question alone, then elicit feedback on comprehensibility and appropriateness etc
  • Construct a rationale for multi-modal approach
  • Offer results feedback to schools – including an executive summary of the overall report
  • Allow them to know if there are specific issues raised by respondents / groups within their institutions
    • Whist insuring individual confidentiality
  • Must make clear to schools and participants – Aim of study is – ‘To improve [teenagers] personal [sexual] development, and how this is supported by the curriculum.
  • Develop a timelined, stage based approach to the completion of the project

Group Meeting 9

Things to Do

  • Group A – Work on 4 Introductions & Methodologies
    • Conor & Sorcha
  • Group B – Work on Pilot Study & Prepare Final Questionnaire + Contact Tcd Students
    • Chiara & Lois
  • Group C – Work on Interviews + Contact Professionals + Carry Out Interviews
    • Gareth & Brendan
  • Group D – Contact Schools & Work on Focus Groups
    • Kiera & Stephen & Eimer & Sorcha

Group Meeting 10

  • Gareth – Presented completed questions for Ivana for email approval
    • Addendum by Kiera – attorney generals interpretation of age of consent vs legal age
  • Everyone to gather clips for focus groups by Monday
  • We need to begin considering the analysis we will carry out on completed interviews + questionnaires
  • During Group meeting
    • Gareth Phoned: Caroline Hunter (will email), Shiela Green’s Secretary – meeting arranged for next Wednesday 25th Jan, 2pm-3pm
    • Chiara, Kiera, Eimer – worked on questionaire printing etc – Questionnaire is now complete and edited – will be ready for next Wednesday


Group Meeting 11

Chiara’s Report

  • Pilot study carried out
  • New revision of survey (with ammendments from pilot study) is available
  • Hugh Garavan contact for credit system – 50 collage age participants signed up
  • Girls from 2 football clubs should be available through a classmate to take survey
  • We will easily get retrospective participants

Lois’s Report

  • Could get retrospective surveys from 20+yrs contacts in military if need be

Kiera’s Report

  • Difficulty encountered getting schools to agree to questionnaires
    • Needing each parents individual consent
    • Against school policy
    • Lack of interest
    • Explicitness of survey questions

Gareth’s Report

  • Interview carried out with Dr Sheila Green – Brendan will transcribe
  • Interviews arranged with Dr. Shay Cafrey, and Dr. Ivana Bacik

Sorcha’s Report

  • Will gather all media clips and magazine clips by monday

Connor’s Report

  • He is proceeding with structure of introductions and overall report
  • His school has agreed to participate

Important Dates

  • Plenary – Thursday 9th February
  • Report Deadline – April 13th
  • Presentation – Thursday 22nd April

Group Meeting 12

  • Conner
    • Contacted union of secondary students – we should have time to speak at their congress
    • Still working with his school to arrange focus group etc
    • Will reduce down introductions & and give back to original writers
  • Reminder: Plenary on Thursday – Pre-plenary meeting 1pm next Tuesday
  • Lois & Chiara – Have conducted 100 adult surveys – in process of collating / entering into SPSS
  • Stephen – will produce group process section – has emailed around handout to be filled in
  • All members of group filled out questionnaire
  • Gareth
    • Caroline Hunter Interview – to be carried out on Friday 2pm
    • Will digitise clips for focus groups
    • Will transcribe Shay Cafree interview
  • Brendan & Sorcha
    • Will interview Shay Cafree
    • Will transcribe 2 previous interviews
  • Group – discussed statistical analysis of questions

Time line for rest of project

2nd March focus groups and questionnaires complete
9th March testing complete
16th March Report done (except for editing)
13th April Hand in report
27th April Presentation

Group Meeting 13

  • 3rd Plenary Presentation Prepared
    • What is done
    • What is ongoing
    • What is still to do
  • Ideas for presentation discussed
  • Project Results – What to put in it?
    • SPSS of Questionnaires
    • Analysis of Interviews, Open Questions, Focus Groups
    • Qualitative reflexive influence on interviews & focus groups
  • Focus group videos done for plenary

Plenary Session 3

  • Deadline: 5pm, Thurs 13th April
  • Presentation Data: Thurs 27th April

Report Size

    • less like a PHD, more like a report
    • combining skills into cogent and succinct report with recommendations is aim of GP
    • not comprehensive representation – usable presentation

Report Format

  • Complete leeway – not an experiemental report
  • Report data & references in APA fashion
  • Other info = free to synthesise and integrate succinctly and effectively
  • Replication details – do need proceedures
  • Group Process section


  • 20 minutes
  • followed by 10 minutes of questions
  • Location: AP1.11
  • Lets assume really impressive police demo + multicultural group displays, and aim to beat
  • Presentation – evaluation as a report but different mode – equal value to written report
  • Not just skills but results and evalutation of preject
  • Brief group process segment

Group Meeting 14

To Do

  • For Thurs 9th March
    • Gareth & Bren – Complete thematic analysis of interviews
    • Chiara, Lois & Sorcha – Open Questions
    • Stephen – Group Process
    • All – Reflexivity
    • Focus Groups – Lois, Chiara and Conner
    • Interview with Hilary Hoey – Gareth and Eimer

Report Compilation

  • Conner – research goals, intro/background, findings, summary
  • Do we have research goals / hypothesis?
    • 4 Areas – holistic perspective
  • Conner is reducing length
  • Some problems with intros
    • Educational – review of UK and Irish Curriculum needed
    • Which aspects are compulsory / optional, content & implementation, differences and similarities
    • Physiological/Phychological – aspects need to be removed


  • Need to contact Hillary Hoey
  • Gareth and Eimer will do it tomorrow and interview ASAP
  • Gareth and Brendan will do thematic at weekend


  • Cultural – OC Glamour vs scanger reality – copying and contradicting
  • Educational context – awkward teacher trying to give sex education – lots of puns etc and drawn out analogies to rabbit and birds and bees
  • Social and Health – Sid James Dr. Clinic – Pervy Doctor – Carry on Innuendo
  • Psychological / Physiological – Bowlby and Freud have an erudite discussion which desends to gross genturing and acting out

Data Analysis

  • Kiera and Eimer have in hand
  • Integrative approach to synthesis of sections

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