Tag Archives: research use

Marketing Research Conceptual Framework

What is marketing research? How do you come up with your conceptual framework on marketing research? This article defines the concept and provides a simplified example.

One of the readers of my article on how to develop a conceptual framework asked if I could provide an example conceptual framework on marketing research. I am quite interested in applying the principles of marketing research on my entrepreneurial venture such as in creating and running this website.

It so happened I came across a book on marketing research in BOOKSALE while looking for textbooks on statistics. The book is on sale, so I pulled out my wallet and shelled out a little investment for my hungry brain. The title of the book is a straightforward “Essentials of Marketing Research” by William Zikmund.

I set aside 15 minutes to read the book right after my jogging session. I did this thinking that my mind could actively absorb the contents of the highly academic book after pumping a lot of oxygen during vigorous exercise. In fact, Hillman (2008) noted the beneficial effect of aerobic exercise to cognition. Exercise not only improves physical health but also academic performance.

To come up with a conceptual framework for marketing research, I find it necessary to define marketing research first.

Marketing Research Defined

Zikmund (1999) defines marketing research as a systematic and objective process of generating information to aid in marketing decisions. This process includes specifying what information is required, designing the method for collecting information, managing and implementing the collection of data, analyzing the results, and communicating the findings and their implications.

The most important thing in this definition is that marketing research, as in any research venture, helps business owners or marketing managers make decisions. Marketing research sheds light on customer’s preferences, the long-range profitability of business operations, and other product-oriented concerns.

Successful companies like Google, Microsoft, IBM, among other well-known businesses must be employing excellent marketing research activities to keep their edge. Decisions related to their products and services are not haphazardly done. Managers decide with calculated risks.

Example Conceptual Framework on Marketing Research

One of the popular marketing research activities focuses on product quality and services. I illustrate product and service research with a personal experience below.

A few years back, I answered a simple questionnaire soliciting my feedback on the product and services of a pizza shop. The questionnaire sought my rating of pizza taste, service speed, and the courtesy of the server.

We can plot the paradigm of the study as follows:

marketing research example
The paradigm of the pizza study showing the independent and the dependent variables.

The paradigm above shows the conceptual framework of the study. It is an abstract representation of what the pizza manager or consultant has in mind. It shows the variables that the researcher shall examine to determine which of the three variables correlate most with customer satisfaction.

Why were the three independent variables namely pizza taste, service speed, and waiter courtesy selected? A review of the literature on customer satisfaction may have revealed that these variables are determinants of customer satisfaction. But in the particular location where the pizza restaurant operates, any of these variables may be more important than the other. A study found out that customer preferences vary geographically. This finding implies that clients in one place may prioritize courtesy over taste. In one location, customers may put a premium on service speed. In another location, customers may not mind much either the speed or courtesy but the taste.

So how will the marketing manager use the findings of the study in the given example? If for example, customers in the location I’m in prioritizes service speed, then the appropriate action should be to improve the speed of pizza delivery without compromising taste and courtesy.

This example illustrates the importance of marketing research in making decisions that can help businesses grow. Research findings guide marketing managers on what steps to take to improve their business operations.

Reference

Hillman, C. H., Erickson, K. I., & Kramer, A. F. (2008). Be smart, exercise your heart: exercise effects on brain and cognition. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 9(1), 58-65.

Zikmund, W. (1999). Essentials of marketing research. Dryden Press. 422 pp.

Cite this article as: Regoniel, Patrick A. (May 20, 2016). Marketing Research Conceptual Framework. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from http://simplyeducate.me/2016/05/20/marketing-research/

Outcome-Based Research: Directing Research Towards the Desired Goal

Have you ever heard of or read about outcome-based research (OBR)? Does it sound familiar?

The truth is, outcome-based research is a word play from outcome-based education (OBE), a popular theory that emphasizes the outcomes or goals of an educational system, that is, the focus is not on content but to the object of the training – the student. Also, OBE does not follow the rigid dictates of some sort of methodology to educate the student. It focuses on the outcome, or goal as the ultimate measure of the effectiveness of a curriculum. OBR works the same way.

The Principle of Outcome-Based Research

The idea of OBR just occurred in my mind as I read through or heard about outcome-based education. Why not adopt the same principle in doing research? Make it goal-oriented just like OBE.

As research director of the university, I embarked on the idea by holding a three-day research planning workshop two weeks ago. And I used e-tools in putting the OBR approach to work. The e-tools I used consisted of a free version of Vensim®, a systems analysis tool and XMind, a mindmapping software.

I believe that research performance in the university will be boosted further by the innovative approach of outcome-based research. The focus is on the goal of research founded on the research agenda of the university.

Vensim was used to identify which specific issues need to be addressed by research programs, projects, or activities. The tool was used to help unravel which variable or variables of the whole chain of interconnected events or resource states really matter. It also helped the researcher discern if he or she has the relevant expertise to do research along an issue or problem identified in the systems analysis.

When the specific issue or problem has already been identified, the participants of the workshop came up with their desired research goal to help address the issue or problem. The desired goal became the head of the fishbone diagram created using XMind.

Outcome-based research starts at the goal, then works back to identify the steps required to achieve the pre-set goal. I provide below an example of the OBR approach:

pollution mitigation
Outcome-based research approach to mitigate pollution using low-cost technologies.

Outcome-based Research is Goal-oriented

You would notice that by stating clearly the goal of research, everything falls in place. Research now is not simply just research for the sake of research but an exercise which can help resolve an issue or problem. The steps required in carrying out the research venture are also identified such that all efforts converge towards a desired goal. It is a step-by-step process.

Outcome-based research, therefore, is a new approach that brings the value of research towards a higher level. It is responsive to the needs of society. It does not stop at publications as the outcome of research but a much higher goal that can make life better for everyone. Research is not just for the sake of personal gain but for the sake of humanity.

©2015 August 2 P. A. Regoniel

Do You Know that the Computer Can Disturb Your Sleeping Patterns?

For those who lack sleep due to computer overwork, here is an article for you. Take control of your sleeping patterns by getting rid of the blue light emanating from your computer. 

What does the blue light do to your brain and how does it affect your sleep? Listen to the video and appreciate how research findings can improve the quality of your sleep and affect your way of life in general.

Relationship between Hours of Computer Use and Sleep Time

I noticed that there seems to be a connection between the hours I spent sleeping and my use of the computer. As I stay logged in late in the night staring at the computer screen, the shorter my sleep time. I thought, “Is there a relationship between computer use especially at night and the number of hours I spent sleeping?

I’ve read somewhere that the computer does affect sleeping patterns. So, this could have been resolved simply by sleeping early thus avoiding the use of computer which may have been the culprit for my lack of sleep. But during times when I need to keep up with a heavy workload, I have to stay awake until late in the evening.

The Effect of Blue Light

Once again, I searched the internet for the specific effects of the computer to sleep. Then I came across a youtube video on how to sleep better. That video reminded me of the “blue light” emitted by the computer.

The video did not explain why blue light affects sleep but I remembered I read an article about it. According to research, blue light from the computer inhibits or reduces the production of melatonin, a sleep hormone. Thus, my lack of sleep may be due to reduced melatonin levels. I searched further in youtube about the blue light and what it does to melatonin. And I found a good explanation by Dr. Dani. I embed the helpful video below.

How to Counter the Effect of Blue Light

Knowing about blue light and upon hearing from another youtube video that it can be countered by wearing glasses with red filter or ultraviolet light protection, I resurrected my old sunglasses to experiment. I placed it on top of my progressive lens while typing in front of the computer late into the night.

At the first night I did it, I gained one hour of sleep and on the second day, I gained another hour. The latter gave me enough sleep, a full 7 hours, and greater energy to run early in the morning. I covered 7 kilometers that day in 39 minutes.

In summary, the lack of sleep that you may be experiencing may be attributed to the blue light emitted by the computer. Counter it by wearing glasses with red filter or sunglasses that serve the same purpose. If it doesn’t work then there may be other reasons.

For more tips on how to counter the effects of blue light, read the newsletter on blue light published online by Harvard Medical School.

©2014 December 12 Patrick Regoniel

Five Tips for Research Paper Presentation

Are you ready to present the findings of your study in a conference? Here are five pointers for research paper presentation that you will find handy.

I figured out these tips from my personal experience in presenting research papers in many conferences I attended. 

Five Tips for Research Paper Presentation

1. Be ready with your presentation one week ahead.

Allocating a generous amount of time in preparing your slides means better quality presentation. Start preparing your research paper presentation at least a week ahead of schedule. This will give you ample time to download or prepare graphics that will make your presentation more interesting to your audience.

2. Assume that your audience does not know anything about your study.

Many presenters assume that their audience understands their jargon or scientific musings. Always assume that your listeners are laymen who know nothing about your study. This will help you present your ideas clearly to a broader group of people. After all, the intention of research is for people to see the relevance of your findings to their lives, not for purely academic debate. Reserve that one during your thesis or dissertation defense.

Your main purpose in attending the conference is to disseminate information. Many findings are left unutilized because people were not able to appreciate them in their utmost complexity.

3. Present only the highlights of your research paper.

In a large gathering of professionals particularly those that cater to many disciplines, the sheer number of research papers submitted for presentation will leave researchers a very brief time to explain the results of their study. It is common that a presenter will be given 15 minutes to present his paper with 5 minutes allocated to questions or clarifications by a panel or the audience. This will mean preparing roughly 10 to 15 slides of content.

It is good practice, therefore, that for every slide you prepare, present only three to four bullet points to put your idea across. Don’t be too wordy as the audience cannot grasp a paragraph-long content in one minute aside. This will also mean showing fonts that are indiscernible from afar.

Good quality, not tending to distract, and relevant graphics can help a lot. A picture speaks a thousand words.

4. Use large fonts that can be viewed easily from a distance.

How large fonts should be that these can be viewed from a distance? Arial font, size 26 can be a great size even from a 50 meter distance. Why arial? That’s because the font has more or less even sized impression. Contrast “Arial” with “Times New Roman.” The former is easier to read.

5. Always have a back-up.

Make sure that you have back-up copies of your presentation before going to the conference area. Copy a file in either a USB flash drive or a CD aside from having it in your laptop or desktop. If something goes wrong with your laptop or your file gets corrupted due to a virus that prevented you from accessing your files in the computer, you have another copy ready for use. Test each copy to make sure either works.

Applying these tips will help you gain more confidence in presenting your research paper. Do you have other tips to add? Leave your comments below.

©2014 November 6 Patrick Regoniel

A Critique on the Cooperative Writing Response Groups

Are you interested in writing a critique and would like to see how it is done? This article is for you. I write about the work of an English teacher, Melina Porto, on how to teach students to write. How did Melina approach students’ difficulty in writing good papers? I explain below how she made innovations in her pedagogical approach and presented my own perspective about what she did.

Writing the Paper

The author of this article is Melina Porto. She is an English teacher from the National University of La Plata, Argentina. She believes that timed writing itself contradicts recent research on writing pedagogy, and is therefore inappropriate.

This pedagogic proposal is based on cooperative writing response groups and self-evaluation. However, the university has already established testing procedures and she can only take limited instructional decisions.

The university requires students to devote two hours in writing approximately 350 words on a teacher-selected topic. The teacher then gives feedback in the form of error correction. In this process, grammar is given more emphasis than content. This means that a student would receive a failing mark if his sentences are grammatically wrong.

This situation contradicts Melina’s belief that writing is an interactive activity wherein learners need to know who they have to interact with and why (Widdowson, 1984). In addition, writing is a provoked activity; it is located in on-going social life.

Raimes (1985) intensifies this argument by giving a real audience for the students —their own teacher. In doing this, students become more social and communicative in their written works because they know whom they are writing to.

Another problem in teaching writing is the time pressure involved. Students are deprived of the concept of writing as recursive, interactive, communicative, and social activity (Silva, et al., 1994) due to the length of time allotted in finishing a composition. They do not have enough time to give suggestions or comments about their classmates’ paper nor to revise the final copy of their work.

Finally, little or no teacher feedback only leads to limited improvement in student’s writing because of unawareness of the linguistic problems and thus, they cannot generate alternatives and assess them.

Porto’s Research

The problems mentioned above encouraged Porto to conduct a research guided by the following criteria for good writing pedagogy:

  • to respond to student writing as work in progress (Zamel, 1985),
  • to encourage revision for meaning, and
  • to offer specific guidelines and directions on how to proceed (Raimes, 1991; Zamel, 1985).

With these in mind, she used the cooperative writing response groups (Bryan, 1996) in which three or four students as a group take turns in reading out their written pieces to members who then give feedback to the writer based on instruction given. This was implemented by selecting a topic that was developed at home through teacher-student negotiation. The point of discussion was merely on the content.

As a result, the students were able to ask questions, give clarification and opinion, make suggestions for improvement, give examples and pinpoint ambiguities before grammar related aspects were considered. Likewise, the writer was able to evaluate himself based from his teacher’s and classmates’ suggestions and feedback. In this process, the learners need to write the first draft, two revisions and the final copy.

The steps involved in cooperative writing response groups and self-evaluation are complicated and time consuming; but at the end, this is rewarding. Students’ performance can be easily monitored by including their cooperative writing response groups and self-evaluation in their portfolios; however, it entails more time for a teacher and the students as well, to read and give feedback for the initial draft, the two revisions (one on content, one in grammar) and the final copy.

On the other hand, students achieved better when 80 percent of the learners passed the required writing task in 1997 compared to the 70 percent passing rate before the innovation was introduced.

Further, empirical support was clearly lacking. Thus, further research should be made whether the approach actually succeeded in helping the students meet the writing requirement set by their institution. Cooperative writing response groups synthesizes product and process; thus, capturing the complexity of writing.

The Critique

I strongly agree with Porto’s idea of implementing the cooperative writing response groups and self-evaluation because it is student-centered and content-based rather than grammar. As a teacher, I also experienced before the dilemma of giving grades. I tended to give higher grades to students whose papers were grammatically correct; and in effect, students got a lower score if their papers had grammatically incorrect sentences, no matter how comprehensive and substantial they were.

I also agree that students should address a particular audience in writing and have a definite purpose. In doing this, they will know what kind of words they will use and how they will organize and present their ideas. The use of a more familiar audience or a particular person whom they know more – like their teacher or a classmate can motivate them to express their ideas well. They might feel that it is a cool and non-threatening activity.

Likewise, the concept of writing as recursive, interactive, communicative, and social activity entails a lot of time. Therefore, students must be given ample time to write and to interact with their classmates for suggestion and feedback. The giving of feedback by their classmates and most especially, by their teachers can help them improve their work and correct their mistakes. This also helps them become critical thinkers, writers and readers.

However, the implementation of this concept is impossible if the school administrators still insist on carrying out their traditional belief or policy concerning writing. A total re-engineering of the curriculum is necessary in order to avoid mismatch of the theories and principles (worthwhile activities that should be done in a classroom to make students communicatively competent) and of our practice in the educational system.

© 2014 October 9 M. G. Alvior

Qualitative Research: Three Ethnographic Research Techniques

What is ethnographic research? How is this research approach conducted?

This article explains the meaning of ethnographic research and discusses three ethnographic research techniques namely mapping the block, private language, and body language. A detailed example is given for each of the techniques. 

What is Ethnographic Research?

Ethnographic research is a qualitative research approach where the researcher captures a particular phenomenon by describing or explaining it without the use of statistics. It involves a systematic collection, description, and analysis of data to explain the subject or develop a theory of a “cultural behavior.”

Further, ethnographic research is an in-depth study of a people’s culture,  or of a nation. It may also refer to studies of culture prevailing in different professional fields like education, business, communication, tourism, and language.

The following are three ethnographic research techniques that are easy to follow. These are mapping the block, private language, and body language.

Three Research Techniques Used in Ethnographic Research

1. Mapping the Block

One of the research tools for ethnographic study is called mapping of the block. This approach uses  a vivid documentation of observations made in a place or a street in which a phenomenon that you want to investigate is located.

For example, if you want to study the culture of an indigenous group of people called the “Molbog” living in the remote island of Balabac in Palawan, you have to get as much detail about their village or houses. Or, if you want to study a group of students in the classroom, you have to tell exactly where the classroom is located and how it looks like. A one-time visit is not enough to map a block so you must make repeat observations. I did it once and it took me two weeks to map a block of my study area.

2. Private Language

Another way of gathering data is by capturing the private language used by a participant. Private language may pertain to a single word, an expression or a sentence. (next page please)

For example, a participant may use a common word or a totally strange word where you can’t find its meaning, even if you consult a dictionary of their language or use context clues to know its meaning. That’s because it’s only the participant who knows about it.  You have to make sure, however, that this “private language” is important to your study.

3. Body Language

A third technique of ethnographic research uses keen observation of a participant’s  body language. Once you see something peculiar as to the way he/she moves or rolls his/her eyes, bear that in mind so that you can put that observation into writing once you get the chance. But then again, you must make sure that his/her body language is relevant to your study.

Here are detailed examples for the three ethnographic research techniques:

Detailed Examples of Ethnographic Research

Example 1: Mapping the Block

The Block of XYZ Language Academy

From my dormitory in Molo, Iloilo City, I often pass by M.H. Del Pilar Street with nothing so interesting. Old buildings and newly erected buildings can be seen everywhere with different structures and architectures uniquely designed according to the services and purposes of the establishments. It’s a long queue of banks, hotels, restaurants and offices.

buildings cartoon

But one day, while searching for a language school to conduct an action research, a newly found friend told me to try XYZ. I was not familiar with that school and I didn’t even know its location. So, armed with a letter of request , I rode a jeepney towards XYZ.

XYZ is renting a space in the John B. Lacson Maritime University, the first maritime university in Asia. It is located beside La Fiesta Hotel, just before the newly constructed flyover.

The façade of the John B. Lacson Maritime University building is painted off peach while the pillars are Gothic, like the one I saw in La Salle, Taft; and in the Supreme Court in Manila. The pillars are circular with distinct columns to support the building. The upper part of each pillar has concave spiral designs in both sides which are exquisitely made.

From the ground floor, after walking about four meters ahead, I saw a stairway at the right side. Each stairway has ten small steps.

While making my first step upstairs, I saw that the wall was originally painted off white, but now became gray or dirty white. Once I reached the 10th step, I arrived at a platform, where I saw another stairway with the same number of steps as the first one. That platform, which has space enough for only a few people to pass by, has a well-decorated wall with yellow plastic flowers. On top of the flowers are the crystal cubes. There are 5 cubes in a column, and 15 cubes in a row; a total of 75 cubes. The same is true in the third floor. The only difference is that the color of the flowers at that level is orange.

Once I reached the third floor, I turned right, and then walked a little further. At my right side, there’s a signage of XYZ, at the corner of an aisle. I passed through the aisle and took a passage towards the Korean managers’ office.

The entrance door of the office is made of glass with no tint at all. I can see a divider from outside. To go inside, I must push the glass door.

Research Findings Dispel Old Myths

How can research findings be put to practical use? Here’s an account of how research findings were used to improve one’s health condition through a systematic application of the principles of aerobics.

On February 23, 2014, I joined a 10-kilometer run of a local runners’ club to test whether I can keep up with the pack. I woke up early in the morning at about 4 o’clock to ready myself for the 5:15 AM run.

At age 51, once hypertensive and sedentary for at least four years because of the “lack of time” to exercise and too engrossed at work,  doctors 50 years ago would not recommend what I intend to do. It would be too risky at my age. That is what they say. Accordingly, as people reach middle age, medical doctors once recommend that they should take it easy. Strenuous exercise must be avoided as much as possible for fear of heart attack, stroke, bone injuries, among others.

But I was comforted by the fact that a groundbreaking approach to develop endurance in running or walking long distances was developed by Dr. Kenneth Cooper in his aerobics book in 1960. I happened to see the book in a book sale center as I browse for useful tips on health and self-development.

About the Aerobics Book

The aerobics book outlines how one can build up stamina and endurance in running by undertaking a 16-week aerobics program. The idea behind this book is to build running capacity gradually using a point system. As one progresses, he adds more points until a 30-point week is achieved.

I was able to reach the 30-point week with diligence at week 29 or in August of 2013. Now, I can achieve the 30-point week effortlessly. And the last record I had in my three workouts per week is 48 points. I can easily exceed the 30-point week requirement without feeling too tired to walk or feel anything uncomfortable with my joints. I have maintained the pace and increased my points — gradually.

The key in this approach to stamina building is — gradual. My arteries and veins increased in size gradually. Thus, my blood pressure normalized and even my heartbeat per minute went down. 

Slow Heart Rate?

Last March 4, my heart rate was only 44 when I checked it early in the morning before my workout. Is this abnormal?  How slow can a heartbeat get?

My doctor was a bit alarmed during my last medical check up because he said, the military SWAG (similar to the US SEAL team) he checked have heartbeats averaging 60 per minute. There may be something wrong with my wrist blood pressure monitor or I have bradycardia or slow heart beat which is linked to problems with the electrical system of the heart. So I told him about my workout and he nodded in agreement that I am okay.

Mayo clinic says a normal resting heart rate ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute. However, a slower heart rate at rest implies more efficient heart function and better cardiovascular fitness which is true for well-trained athletes who usually approach 40 beats a minute.

This means that it takes much less effort to pump the blood all throughout one’s circulatory system as the heart is strong. That’s how Dr. Cooper explained it. 

Performance in the 10K Run

How did I perform in the 10-kilometer run which I ran for the first time? Well, I finished 12th, that is, from the last runner who finished the fun run.  🙂  I did it in one hour and three minutes and got a certificate as a finisher of the 10K run.

10 kilometer run

I mentioned my accomplishment to a colleague who runs regularly. He said, my performance was good because normally, runners are expected to finish the 10K run in one hour and 15 minutes. In fact, I bested 11 other runners I saw still running towards the finish line on my way home. And not only that, I learned later from a runner friend that there were still other runners who decided not to finish the run; either because they were not able to keep up with the top ten runners or they can no longer make it. It gave me somehow a sense of pride for my accomplishment. What a pleasant surprise.

Dispelling Old Myths

How was this accomplishment made possible? A systematic approach was applied by a doctor of medicine and a former Air Force Colonel to dispel old myths that “when you get older, you need to take it easy.” That’s not true. Just like a machine, the body should be worked out regularly. If not, the rust will take over or the parts deteriorate prematurely such that it will not work efficiently anymore.

Dr. Cooper did research and applied his findings. Now, he is in the forefront of preventive medicine. We enjoy the fruits of his labor and gain more control of our health.

Ah well, I am joining the 10K run again tomorrow to see if I will be able to do it better.

© 2014 April 4 P. A. Regoniel

How to Use Research Tools in Managing Your Finances

How do you manage your finances? Do you realize that you can use research tools in effectively managing it? Read the article below and be victorious in handling your monetary affairs.

Some people find it difficult to keep themselves free of financial concerns. Many of these difficulties lie in the kind of lifestyle that people adopt in their daily lives. But what kind of lifestyle do you have and how does this impact to your financial status?

There is no generic way to describe what really transpires in one’s financial life unless an objective approach is applied to examine it. It may be that you believe you are doing just fine. It’s just the circumstances around you that make it difficult for you to make ends meet. 

Most of us have this inclination, we tend to believe what we perceive. But we could be wrong in this presumption. For this reason, doing a little research and using research tools can empower you to help you  manage your finances better.

How can research tools be used in handling your money? Here are the things you can do to see things clearly and apply the correct approach to bring you out of perennial debt.

1. Use graphs to look at how you spend your money

You cannot really say you understand fully your spending behavior unless you list down where your money goes. Every time you buy something, take time to record the transaction into a notebook dedicated for that purpose. Don’t be tempted to use an electronic media as you will tend to lose it if for any reason viruses attack your computer. Your expenses are not also visible and easily accessible to you. If you have a hard copy, you can grasp it at an instant.

Do your recording consistently for one month and graph your expenses at the end of the month. This is easily done using a spreadsheet application such as Excel or Open Office Calc. The best graph for this purpose is a bar graph. Those that you spend most will rise above the rest of your expenses. Look at the three highest bar and contemplate if you can still bring them down or make a little adjustment.

2. Get a good, objective perspective to guide your thinking

Many people believe that they need everything they spend on. Wants may actually be viewed as needs by different persons. For example, having the latest high-tech cellphone satisfies the need to interact with the latest technology. That could be considered a need if that itself satisfies a person and he has the means to acquire it. But for a person who does not have the means, it will be just a luxury. So, the classification of needs and wants ultimately lies in the eyes of the one concerned.

Adopt a perspective that suits your present financial capacity. Don’t fall into the trap of keeping up with the Joneses because the Joneses live luxuriously. You do not know the real score behind their way of life. It may be that they are in a quagmire of debt.

3. Use a theoretical framework to prioritize your needs and wants

What needs do you really have to fulfill? You can reflect on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to have a better idea where your belief stands. For example, the basic need at the very bottom shows that people need to breathe fresh, clean air; drink clean water, wear appropriate clothing to warm the body or keep it from the elements, and get a good sleep. These needs must be satisfied first before going up the next level. The other items towards the top describe the higher level needs when all the needs below are satisfied.

Why use this theoretical framework by Maslow? A theoretical framework sums up, in a most critical way, the results of many studies. For this reason, the framework represents what you really need to fulfill.

4. Satisfy all your needs first before your wants but first define what is a need and what is a want

In research, you need to be clear with what terms you are using. Is your definition of need clearly distinguishable from want? What is really a need? How about the want?

The rule is you need to satisfy first your needs before your wants. This is just fair because needs are designed to be fulfilled mainly for survival, while wants can be done without. Wants can be ignored. This is the reason why many advertisements always appeal to one’s vanity to get products across which, actually, are not vital to one’s survival.

Needs and wants, therefore, can be defined thus:

  • Needs. These are goods (and/or services) that are vital to one’s very survival. Non-satisfaction of these needs lead to loss of life.
  • Wants. These are goods (and/or services) that one can avail to enjoy but can live without.

Notice that ads are trying to make you believe that the things they sell are really your needs. But if you ask yourself if you really need those things to survive, chances are, the answer is “not at all.”

5. Systems Thinking: Don’t spend more than you can earn and spend the minimum possible

Adopt a systems thinking in managing your finances. What comes in must equal what comes out. Don’t put out more than what comes in.

Imagine yourself stranded in an island surrounded by sharks where your only means of survival are goods that come your way from a sunken ship. Your consumption will entirely depend on what goods land on the island. Your best strategy to survive is to live on the smallest amount to keep you alive each day and for a long time.

island

If you have a credit card, this is one way that you will spend more than you can actually earn. Spend less than what you earn. If you want to spend more, earn more. This is just a matter of discipline. If you don’t have discipline, don’t use a credit card. Always pay your credit on time to prevent being buried in debt. Stay within your credit limit and don’t increase your credit limit if you are not able to pay your debts on time. 

Lastly, what matters most is application. Whatever things you learn but unable to apply will be for naught. Take action and manage your finances well.

© 2013 December 7 P. A. Regoniel

How Research Translates Into Health Guidelines

The US Government recommendations for better health arise from research findings. A systematic review of literature helps form guidelines on diet and exercise that the public can adopt for better health. Learn the recommendations.

I just finished a free online course titled Nutrition and Physical Activity for Health offered through Coursera.org by the University of Pittsburgh. It was a six-week course with two modules to finish each week.

Although I was a bit behind by a week, I tried to keep up with the reading assignments and quizzes to complete the 11-module course. An optional forum is provided to give feedback on the course or interact on posts written by fellow students or courserians who come from various parts of the world. I learned there were 70,000 of us who joined since the online course’s commencement on July 15, 2013.

What I really appreciate about this course is its science-based approach to health. For every recommended physical activity or diet, there is a corresponding research to back it up. A comprehensive review of research literature point out findings that support diet or physical exercise recommendations.

Here is a summary of what I have learned from the course.

Diet and exercise approach for better health

If you intend to manage your weight and reduce the risk of getting chronic, diet-related diseases like cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, stroke, and diabetes, then the best approach should be to implement both a diet and exercise program. Much will be gained from having a balanced diet and more could be achieved if this is coupled with regular exercise.

What is the recommended diet?

To maximize the benefits of diet, it is important that you should be able to track down your energy or food intakes each day. You should list down how much and what kinds of food you ate. This requires counting the calories derived from food. This simple daily record will give you an insight on the kind and amount of food in terms of calories that will help you manage your diet.diet

All of the food consumed do not get burned for energy. The body will use up only a specific amount of calories to carry on the daily activities. The rest gets either excreted as waste or stored as fat. You should be concerned about overeating because if you take more than enough, the excess gives that added weight unless you do something to get rid of it. It is here that exercise plays a role.

There are a specific amount of calories needed for maintenance of body weight for the different food groups namely carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. The same goes for optimal quantities of vitamins and minerals to help absorb and regulate food in the body.

The whole point is that you should first understand your diet through consistent monitoring and from there design a diet that will give you just enough amount and kind of food required for weight maintenance. This means more of fibrous food and less of trans and saturated fats which are obtained easily from food.

What is the recommended amount of exercise?

The recommended amount of exercise to maintain weight is at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate exercise per week. Ideally, this should be spread at a minimum of three times a week or better still, four to five times a week. This means at least 50 minutes of exercise if you opt for a three times a week exercise program or 30 minutes per session if you decide to exercise five times a week.

According to studies, more exercise is better. For best results, 250 minutes of moderate exercise per week is recommended. My exercise program is just okay as I do 41 to 44 minutes of vigorous exercise, that is, running a six kilometer distance three times a week. I just need to adjust my calorie intakes because my weight is between obese and normal based on a body mass index (BMI) of 25.9.

If you want to learn more about the health benefits of exercise, download the 2008 Physical Guidelines for Americans.

To measure the amount of calorie intake based on your food as well as your progress in your physical activity, use SuperTracker, a free online tool to track an individual’s diet and physical activity.

© 2013 September 2 P. A. Regoniel