Graduate Students Highlight Research at Statewide Forum

From: Public Affairs

Six graduate students from James Madison University presented their research at the Graduate Student Research Forum sponsored by the Virginia Council of Graduate Schools Feb. 3. The sixth annual forum was held at the Library of Virginia in Richmond.

"The forum provides a wonderful opportunity for key individuals in strategic leadership positions to meet outstanding graduate students who have received their education at Virginia’s public universities," said Dr. Reid Linn, dean of the Graduate School. "Each student will be instrumental in helping to find solutions to the many challenges facing our nation and the world."

The JMU graduate students were among more than 60 student presenters. The following graduate students represented JMU:

Allison Wood of Richmond, master’s degree student in adult education and human resource development, presented “Using Social Media to Improve Student Engagement in Online Courses.” The overall results of this study suggest that Facebook is a more effective social media tool than Blackboard for engaging students in meaningful exchanges outside of the classroom.

Jason Kopp of Midlothian, master’s degree student in psychological sciences presented, “Measuring Entitlement in Higher Education.” Kopp's research focuses on students' academic entitlement and led to the development of the Academic Entitlement Questionnaire. The results from this project support the idea that students outside of a testing situation expect more reward for less effort.

Lauren M. Matyisin of Vernon, N.J., master’s degree student in educational technology presented, “The Impact of Computer Assisted Instruction on Early Literacy Development.” Matyisin's research project focused on children's use of Starfall, a free website designed to teach reading using phonics, and its effects on early literacy development, specifically on alphabet recognition and phonemic awareness.

Anna Zilberberg of Boston, Mass., master’s degree student in assessment and measurement presented, “Detecting Autistic Traits in a Non-Clinical Population: Dimensionality of the Short Version of Autism-Spectrum Quotient.” Zilberberg’s research gives more insight into how many students suffer from high-functioning autism. The results of this project could enable large-scale empirical research on high-functioning autism or Asperger's syndrome and further support of diagnosis in clinical practice.

Lindsey A. Mayberry of Virginia Beach, master’s degree student in psychological sciences presented, “An Examination of Impulsivity in Women with Eating Disorders.” Mayberry’s work addresses the lack of research focused on behavioral measures to examine the characteristics of women with eating disorders. Mayberry measured impulsive behavior in college women who met the criteria for eating disorders.

Zachary Hittie of Harrisonburg, master's degree student in integrated science and technology presented, "Integrating Street Mapping & Structure Preplanning with GIS for Emergency Responders." Hittie developed new software that uses Geographic Information Systems to integrate several databases into one application that quickly identifies an address point, nearby streets, building plans and fire response data, custom map drawings, and turn-by-turn directions to an emergency. The Harrisonburg Fire Department has been using the software since October as they respond to incidents throughout Harrisonburg and Rockingham County.

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February 4, 2011

More information about VCGS, and the research forum can be found at
More information about JMU's graduate programs can be found at