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Undergraduate Research Day at CU

By Cassidy D'Angelo and Amy Ahern
On April 27, 2017

Olga Novikova presenting her research on Tourism Training and Education.
Photo Courtesy Olga Novikova

On Thursday April 13, Concord University hosted the 10th anniversary of Undergraduate Research Day in the Jean and Jerry Beasley upstairs ballroom. Sponsored by the McNair program and directed by Dr. Rodney Klein, over 72 students participated and celebrated in the annual event. With 66 students presenting poster presentations, and six students giving oral research presentations, the scholarly event highlights research projects across the university while Concord students, faculty, and community had the opportunity to interact with the McNair Scholars. 

    For the event more than 20 colleges including Marshall University, Tufts University, Vanderbilt University, Virginia Tech, University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina—Pembroke, Hollins University, Pikeville College of Osteopathic Medicine, and Radford University came to set up to provide students with additional information about graduate and professional programs. 

    Kicking off the event, the six students Adam White, Hanna Wood, Ronni Wood, Tammy Tyree, Elisa Sperandio, and Morgan Bibbee gave their oral presentations on research they have been collecting throughout the year. The majors of the students consisted of education, English, geography, philosophy and history. Running 10 minutes long for each presentation, the students had the opportunity to present their paper verbally while having a short descriptive PowerPoint. At the end of each presentation, audience members were encouraged to engage in conversation with comments, or questions for the presenting students. Following the end of discussion, Dr. Klein bestowed a certificate to each student in congratulations. Senior Morgan Bibbee gave her presentation on her philosophy capstone, commenting on her experience, “As a soon to be graduate, being able to present my findings and research on the topic of ‘Just War Theory’ and the American Civil War, was a great experience. This topic was interesting to me, and something I believe that everyone should acknowledge. Everyone did and impeccable job,” Bibbee says. 

    After the verbal presentations, the McNair scholars provided a light lunch for students participating in the event, and audience members who came out to support. Dr. Klein comments on his overall thoughts for the beginning of the event. “I think one of the things that is kind of our goal, is that over the years often times I believe students come and see things as freshman and then sometimes even as a sophomore and start to think ‘I can do that’ and you know, that’s the way often times students are. They’re a little intimidated especially about having to bring a talk in front of an audience, but I think once students start to see it and get more and more exposure to it, they become more aware of the fact how do-able it really is. I think often times there are students who start off giving a poster presentation and get some confidence from that kind of experience. Then they can later engine a paper presentation,” he says, “I think students have gotten a lot more sophisticated in their research projects over the years. Now-a-days, a lot of projects are graduate level kinds of projects, so the sophistication and research that our students are doing here I think continues to increase and go up year after year.” 

    Concluding the research paper presentations, students who prepared poster presentations stood at their designated area allowing audience members to converse with them on their research findings. Among the 66 students presenting their research Junior Steven Daniel, Psychology major at Concord presenting his research entitles, “The Effects of Priming on Motor Speed.” Daniel elaborates on his reaching. “Priming has its root or is at least related to something called ’negative suggestion.’ Essentially that is, if I tell you not to touch something, you’re going to want to touch it. …In a more basic sense, it is proving the prior context or experience to a person that would then influence them in a certain way, relevant to what the prior experience was.” 

    Daniel states that his research included, “multiple participants were tested at a time. Upon entering the testing room, participants were given a blank sheet of paper, a pen, and asked to please pay attention to the projector screen. A list of 25 words were presented to the participants for four seconds each. The experimental group—group slow—were given words like, ‘grey, retire, stiff’ and the control group—group neutral—were given words such as ‘natural, proud, clinical.’ Then Daniel’s co-author, River Ellis, times the participants as they walked through the door to a different colored line of title down the hall and timed the differences. 

    “The reaction from the students and professors was entirely positive. Undergraduate Research Day is such a wonderful opportunity for the students to get to work on things they find interesting and really get experience collaborating between themselves or professors,” says Daniel. He adds, “I would like to thank those involved in creating, supporting, and executing Undergraduate Research Day, as well as the Concordian for giving me the opportunity to talk about it and my research and doing an awesome job for the university’s news.” 

    Jasmine Hall, another poster presenter states that her research findings included, “Survivors of childhood abuse tend to experience long-term negative consequences, such as chronic health conditions and difficulties performing academically, because of traumatic experiences throughout the stags of development. It is crucial for society to understand the consequences of abuse, to ensure a healthy, bright future for the victim. Previous literature looked at abuse for implications for the child at the time, but not closely into how the abuse will affect the child’s academic performance in the long-term. This study examines whether adult survivors of child abuse have trouble performing academically, by comparing the academic performance of survivors to those who did not experience child abuse.” Hall states that she got her results by, “The Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ) was distributed to a sample of 200 students at a small university. The results indicate that students who experienced little or no abuse performed better academically than those who experienced moderate or severe levels of abuse. During the research, my hypotheses were statistically significant.” First becoming interested in this study because of her own personal background with the addiction of her current demographic. “Concord University is located in Southern WV, which many of the students from the university reside in nearby counties or surrounding areas. In Southern WV, childhood abuse is prevalent in society. Before conducting the research, one must note that in these local areas, there are a lot of factors that could cause the results of childhood abuse or neglect including, but not limited to, drug abuse and high rates of poverty,” Hall states.

    “It was outstanding to see how many students have [gone] through a traumatic experience and are continuing to better themselves with their probability rates of being successful in life being incredibly low.” 

    Senior, Olga Novikova, another poster presenter studied “Tourism Training and Education: International Students Assessment of Tourism Education in the United States.” Her study examined the satisfaction with education at Concord University and her training experiences at service industries based on her own internship at the Greenbrier Resort. Novikova states, “I surveyed interns from various countries from the Greenbrier and accommodation and costs of attending college in [the] education portion of the survey, as well as the relationship with the manager at a workplace and living conditions in the training section, trigger students’ overall experience with the university and with the internship placement.”

     She says that this research helps educators evaluate tourism programs and hospitality managers evaluate education and practical training jobs that are offered to international students. As a result, this ensures hospitality training continues to be a valued commodity. As an international student herself, Novikova has had different expectations about education and training before coming to the United States. She says that some of those she is happy with, but some she is not. She states, “The reason I wanted to conduct this research was to give more ideas and suggestions to educators and hospitality managers to make their programs better so that international students can feel more comfortable with them to get the most out of them. Learning experience is very important in everybody’s life and I hope that this research can give a new perspective on how to make it better in both training and education.” 

    Also presenting her research at Norther Recreation Research Symposium in Annapolis, Maryland on April 2, Novikova states the similarities to the Undergraduate Research Day. However, in Maryland she talked to students with Master’s degrees or Ph.D. students, along with professors from other schools. “I really enjoyed talking to all of them and I’ve received very good advice about my work and was asked some very good questions. I also have attended presentations of other students about their work and it gave me a broader idea for my new research in the future,” she says.  

    Impressed with the variety of presentations presented by the students, Dr. Karen Griffee, Professor of Psychology, expressed her thoughts for most of the day’s event. “We had quite a few literary ones this year and I am always interested to see what their research methodologies are and the variety of stuff they come up with. It was a nice range of talks and it was great. The posters that are here this year too, again, there’s a real range.” She goes on to state, “I love when you can be talking about the civil war or the Brontë sisters, and then the paper presentations. Then there’s chemistry, psychology, biology posters at the same event, that’s my favorite part.” 

    Concluding the event, Dr. Klein expressed his opinions for students who may want to get involved next year. “The advice I would give to students would simply be that participating next year would not be to wait until the last second. A big part of it is just sort of thinking about the event. I would like to start promoting it more in the fall so that students are more aware of it, but to also be aware of the kind of research that they are doing, whether it’s in one of their classes or a class they have already done. Do not be intimidated by this, because this is going to be one of the safest places and environments they’re ever going to have to present their research. Plus it looks good on their resumes whether they’re wanting to go to graduate school or not, and clearly indicates to graduate schools and professional schools they can start a project and carry it through and present,” he says. 

    For more information, contact the McNair Scholars Program staff (Phone: 1-800-344-6679 (toll free) or 1-304-384-6019, email: ikarnes@concord.edu.

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