UWRF psychology students excel in new study
February 19, 2009
UW-River Falls psychology students have been awarded two Regional Research Awards with their work on research projects. Twenty-four out of 370 regional admits were awarded with a certificate and a cash grant of $300.
The research was compiled in two groups’ work on campus. Natasha Sedgwick, a senior psychology major worked with professor Dan Linwick to see how rats that are raised in different environments react to maze learning and delayed gratification.
She said she learned that by rats growing up in different environments there is an impact on how well they do at adapting to find or wait for food. Relating this research to human, it has an impact on how children develop.
“As far as relating about how people go, it’s encouraging to have an enriched environment for children to grow up in,” Sedgwick said.
Students Ashley Thompson, Ben Stanek, Shannon Sommer and Alyssa Petrangelo formed a group that worked with associate professor Travis TubrŽ that researched how people view potential mates. This project started out as an in class assignment, but Stanek, a senior psychology major, wanted to carry the study further as an independent study.
The group then sent out a survey to freshmen psychology students. The study was about young adults’ opinion as they look at the opposite sex with or without a child.
“We looked at multiple different characteristics, and found that some characteristics depending on whether it was a male or female doing the survey, found different things or rated things differently,” Stanek said.
They generally found that people find it more attractive if a man has a child verses if a woman has a child.
Twelve psychology students, who are involved in five to seven different projects, will be traveling to Chicago April 30 to take part in the Midwestern Psychology Association Convention.
This major regional professional meeting is attended by psychologists, professional researchers and student researchers from the Midwest.
Some of the other projects that the psychology department is working on are racial and stereotypical attitudes being carried out by associate professor Cyndi Kernahan, health issues related to alcohol use by assistant professor Todd Wilkinson, gender issues by assistant professor Melanie Ayres and testing reliability by Tubre’.
“In our department we really encourage under-graduate students to try to work with faculty in research,” Mike Reich, psychology department chair, said.
The reasons for all this extra work, Reich said, are that it looks good on rŽsumŽs, it builds long-term relationship with faculty and it is needed to get into graduate school.
All students majoring in psychology have to take a course in research methods and statistics.
Last year, the psychology department talked about plans for the future and one of the ideas was how to find ways to increase involvement in undergraduate research. They decided to put this idea into action by creating a new course called advance research methods. Students now have an option to take their first course in research methods and continue as they wish to a more advanced course where they are also able to propose to work with a faculty member.
UWRF’s psychology department has more than 250 majors.
Reich said that the department prides itself as being able to successfully get students into graduate school. In allowing the ability for research opportunities on campus and at local conferences the psychology department helps in providing internships, as well as maintaining contact with those students who have graduated. “
In any program, with any student, I recommend that they get involved as best they can in the program that they’re in, with their professors, getting involved in research or some writing,” Reich said. “You get a nice relationship going and I think it strengthens the education that they get and the connections at the University.”