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Psychology Department showcases work: Psychological Studies department hosts annual research symposium | The Gustavian Weekly

By Elsa Biese - Staff Writer | December 6, 2019 | News

On Thursday, Dec. 5, the Psychological Studies department hosted the Fall 2019 Psychological Science Research Symposium where students in the department were able to present research projects and studies that they have completed and conducted.

“The purpose of the research symposium is to showcase all the hard work Psychological Science students have done over the course of the semester. This includes research conducted as part of a class, like research methods or child development, as well as research projects students completed with faculty as an independent research project or as part of the faculty’s own research,” Assistant Professor in Psychological Science Patrick Heath said.

The symposium was a space for students to stand with their projects, answer questions about their research and share their process with the community.

Heath, along with professors in Psychological Science Lauren Hecht and Madeline Harms, are currently teaching the research methods course and were key in preparing the symposium.

“[Hecht], [Harms] and I are teaching sections of our research methods course this semester and have helped students develop, refine and conduct their projects for that class,” Heath said.

This is also part of the course, but other students were able to present if they felt inclined to do so.

“We don’t have a formal selection process. Students who are taking psychology classes with a research component are required to participate. Beyond that, any students who complete their own research projects or assist with faculty research are encouraged to take part so that others can see all the hard work they have been doing,” Heath said.

Students taking the Child Development course in the Psychological Science department are also presenting their research from the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota taught by Professor and Chair in Psychological Science Kyle Chambers.

Junior Isabel St. Dennis presented two of her projects during the symposium.

“I presented two posters; the first one is for my stats and research methods II class and it is about voice recognition and vocal attraction. We wanted to see if there was a relationship between the voices that are categorized as attractive or unattractive and the voices that are most frequently recognized. My second poster is about a project I did along with the other research assistants in the Center for Developmental Science, done at the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota in Mankato. We observed children as they played in different exhibits and recorded how frequently they went to each exhibit and how long they stayed at each exhibit. The data collected during this project allows the museum to have concrete evidence on their exhibits regarding how popular each one is and what element within each exhibit is visited most frequently,” St. Dennis said.

Heath also mentioned the benefits students gained from being part of the symposium and attending the event in general.

“For the students presenting, this is a great opportunity for them to gain experience communicating research findings with others. Presenting research is something they will likely have to do if they continue to graduate school, so it’s a great way for them to develop their presentation skills. For the attendees, it’s an opportunity to learn about psychology from their peers. Additionally, the studies that are being presented span a wide range of psychological topics that apply to everyday life, so we hope that attendees will learn some things about how the world works,” Heath said.

St. Dennis echoed this sentiment by expressing her interest in being able to share her studies with her peers.

“I enjoyed being able to explain what my role was in both of the studies I presented and being able to answer questions that people may have had about the work I did. It makes me so proud to be a psychology major and look at my completed project with real data and know that I did that,” St. Dennis said.

These research methods courses allow students in the major to be able to understand how to conduct their own research study and gain the skills needed during their career in the psychological science field.

“This helps me in the psychology major because we often read articles and information about studies that involve knowing the general knowledge of how a method and results/discussion section flows. Having experience in running my own study and writing my own research article, it allows me to be more present and attentive to understanding other people’s studies,” St. Dennis said.

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