By Jacob Kent
Students presented a variety of research projects as part of the third annual Education, Health and Human Services Student Research Conference in the Angell College Center on Friday, Feb. 17.
The conference began with a welcome by co-moderators and mentors of the students professors Michelle Bonati, Emily Hoeh, Alison Puliatte, James Rigney and Maureen Squires, followed by a keynote speech by Associate Professor of Political Science Raymond Carman, who shared his own personal story about his research experience.
As the keynote came to an end, the conference was split into two different rooms. One focused on presentations on the topics of excellence in teaching, service and coaching. The other was focused on professionalism in human service industries, inclusion and cultural responsiveness.
The first topic was presented by Shannon Breen, who spoke about using Modified Schema-Based Instruction (MSBI) as a mathematical intervention for students with disabilities. This intervention would help teach new concepts to students with disabilities by helping them “conceptualize math.” Its focus on solving real world problems through the use of visuals and diagrams to help students with disabilities will help prepare them for future success.
Breen’s own experience working with high school students inspired her to research this topic.
After Breen, Jaiden Varmette spoke about the “Good Behavior Game.” This was focused on noisy classrooms and how to intervene to keep students attentive and learning. This game helps reinforce positive behaviors in the classroom and reduce disruptive behaviors. This is in opposition to some classrooms where students who are disruptive can be singled out by teachers, often making the behavior worse. Varmette said her research “was a little difficult, but collecting the data was easy.”
There were two presentations on literacy assessments by Arianna Milich and Brianna McGlauflin. Although on the same topic, these presentations focused on different applications of literacy assessments for intervening with students experiencing difficulties learning.
Erin Wilson presented her research on “the impacts of homework on parent-child relationships for elementary students in both general education and special education settings.” This presentation focused on the role parents have in the success of their children during tense homework settings. Wilson cited data that elementary students are receiving more homework than usual, with the baseline being 10 minutes per grade and first graders receiving about 30 minutes of work — 20 minutes more than the standard.
Wilson continued by saying the “parent needs to believe that they can help their child learn” in order to minimize the amount of “homework battles,” clashes between parents and children during homework time. In the future, Wilson does not plan to assign her own students homework, “except for small necessary assignments for extra practice.”
The next presenter, Kayla Conkin, participated in this research conference on her own for fun. Presenting on “how video games affect young children and their literacy development,” Conkin said her nephew inspired this topic. Having grown up watching him play video games, she wondered whether there was a correlation between narrative-driven games and reading comprehension. Conkin struggled to find answers to this question because of the lack of research on the topic in general. Conkin said there were “a lot of ups and downs” in her research, “like I was in an ocean, but I finally got to the beach.”
Brynna Sady ended the night like it began, with a presentation on an intervention tool. This presentation was focused on “self-regulation checklists,” in which she shared her experience working with a student experiencing difficulties learning to help them perform better in the classroom. This intervention tool showed great success with her student. With the use of a checklist, a personalized notebook and rewards, her student improved from a score of 3/10 to 8/10, leaving her very satisfied with the results. Sady ended the night by sharing particularly touching stories of this student and how he opened up to her, when he wasn’t receptive to any of the other teachers.
The presentations ended a little early, as they were ahead of schedule. Participants and presenters received certificates serving as indicators of their attendance and fulfillment of their academic requirements. What began as an informative conference ended with an emotional bang with smiles from proud friends, family, and students filling the room.