Student Research Symposium strengthens skills for Psychology majors

College of Health and Behavioral Studies

In April, the Psychology department held their Annual Student Research Symposium for undergraduate students to present research and strengthen communication skills through poster presentations and brief talks.

“We want all of our students to have oral presentation skills and be able to communicate science effectively to people who may not be science-minded or experts in the field,” said Robyn Kondrad, associate professor of psychology. “Doing posters and doing talks are both experiences that are a wonderful way for students to gain those professional skills,” Kondrad said.

Five groups gave brief talks with slide show presentations to an audience of peers and faculty members on various topics in psychology, including gender, relationships, and mental health.

“It takes a lot of courage,” Kondrad said. “You’re standing up in front of a lot of people all at once with a microphone.”

Four groups of students presented posters on field placement, internship, or practicum experiences in local agencies. Twenty-nine groups of students presented on research endeavors. Many of the students who presented posters at the symposium work with faculty members as assistants in research labs.

A psychology student discusses her Field Placement poster with a symposium attendee.“There are students at all stages of the research process that are welcome to present,” Kondrad said.

Psychology students first joining research labs often work with entry-level tasks. As they learn more about the research process, they get more hands-on practice with research skills, such as data analysis. Any students working in research were encouraged to present on their lab work.

“Students who are research assistants develop close working relationships with their faculty,” Kondrad said. Students get connected to faculty members, usually with faculty who share similar interests in research fields.

Faculty and graduate student judges walked around during the presentations with ballots to rate the presentations on research quality and presentation effectiveness. The symposium committee compiles the ballots, and then selects two Best Research Poster awards and two Diversity in Psychological Research Awards. The Diversity awards are selected for research on topics related to diversity or diverse populations, or for presenters from underrepresented groups like racial or ethnic minority groups, first-generation college students, LGBTQ+ students, and more.

“These awards are meant to be motivators and recognition for students to help them gain competence and confidence,” Kondrad said.

A student discusses their poster about cyclical sighing and social connections with a symposium attendee.Best Research Poster Awards were given to Alexandra Sheffield for her poster, “How Accurate Is Deception Detection in Capital Murder 911 Calls?”, and to Katie Fox, Rachael Johnson and Katelyn Morgan on their poster, “Happy Face Advantage in Children: Human and Pareidolic Faces.”

Diversity in Psychological Research Awards were given to Katavonni Sorlouangsana, Jessica Johnson and Francis Powers III for their poster, “Add Confetti to the Fire: Conveying Object Emoji with Time Delay Responses”, and to Tanner Skyhammountry for their poster, “Engaging in Politics: Early Exploration Between Mindfulness and Political Engagement.”

In addition to the student presenters, other students in the general education courses PSYCH 101 and PSYCH 160 were encouraged by their instructors to go to the symposium. Many students in these classes participate in Psychology research as subjects. Kondrad encouraged her students to visit the symposium and observe some of the outcomes of the studies in which they participated.

In a reflection assignment for PSYCH 160 students who opted to attend the symposium, Kondrad said that some of her students were surprised about the results for the posters of the studies they participated in as subjects. For general education and Psychology students, the symposium “provides a great experience for students to see science in action and get a better understanding of that process.”

“We all look forward to it every year,” said Kondrad, about the symposium. “It’s fun to see the students work hard and to see their excitement about presenting their work.”

Projector displays "Psychology Symposium" while students and attendees look on.

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by Lindsey Park

Published: Friday, May 31, 2024

Last Updated: Monday, June 3, 2024

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