Overall, I consider myself so lucky to have had such an incredible summer internship experience. I have learned so much about research in general and about the specifics of the project that I helped with. Additionally, it was extremely interesting for me to assist in a study that could relate so well to STEM education because it focused on problem solving and collaborative learning. Because of this incredible opportunity, I have been exposed to so many important principles and concepts.
My experiences throughout this internship have absolutely transformed my thinking about myself as a learner. Once I had finally mastered something or felt confident with new information, Professor Corter always introduced new articles and procedures to me. This helped me to see just how much more there was to learn about the topic we were researching, which allowed me to truly understand how essential it was to be conducting the studies. Because Professor Corter has not analyzed all of the data yet, I am anxiously awaiting the results of our study. I am so excited to see if collaborative work significantly yields better and more efficient results. I am also looking forward to understanding the results because I know that more detailed questions about learning will materialize after data is analyzed. It will be extremely interesting to further continue the study in a more specifically detailed direction. I truly love knowing that there will always be more to learn and to explore.
In terms of how this internship has influenced my thinking about STEM fields and education, I would say that I am very grateful for the insight I have gained this summer. Not only have I seen collaborative problem solving in action, I have also observed group work when it seems to succeed and when it seems to fail. Comprehensive communication is essential, as are gestures. Most of the best group situations that I have personally observed include equalized turn taking, illustrative gesturing and explaining ideas to each other. When it comes to explaining mathematic concepts, it seems so essential to have physical diagrams and gestures at the ready. For example, when one partner had the idea for a Steiner point and had to explain it to the other, idea transfer success typically occurred when the first partner physically pointed at or touched the map. This indicates to me that in a classroom where challenging math concepts are being taught, a teacher should gravitate towards using visuals to convey the concepts to students. I am very glad that I have been able to research problem solving and learning processes.
I am so excited to say that I will most likely be helping Professor Corter and Davie with this research project and any extensions of it in the fall. I will definitely be building on everything that I have learned by finally getting a chance to analyze the results of the data and using those results to ask more detailed and specific questions about collaborative learning. Additionally, I am excited to use what I have learned about collaborative learning once I am in the classroom for my student teaching. Furthermore, I am so happy to have learned so much about research in general and know that I will use the skills I have acquired this summer when performing other research studies in the future. Finally, I am very thankful that I was given the opportunity to become IRB certified for studies with human participants because now I will be prepared for any other research projects that I may become involved with. Hence, I will definitely be using many of the skills that I have learned this summer for future projects and research.
All in all, I could not have asked for a better summer internship experience. I was so lucky to run study sessions by myself, to schedule participants, to get my IRB certification, and to get so acquainted with the data through organization and entry. Furthermore, I am so glad that I learned so much about our actual study, about Steiner tree points, and about the traveling salesman problem. Working at Teachers College has provided me with invaluable skills and comprehension of both research studies and collaborative learning.
The past few weeks of my internship at Teachers College have been extraordinarily insightful and enjoyable. Not only have I been able to work with some very interesting data, but I have also gotten the opportunity to conduct the study with human participants. I was able to make the shift from observer to experimenter and I have learned so much in the process. I enjoyed becoming a more active participant in such an interesting study and was able to see more connections between how my internship relates to teaching and STEM education.
I have been learning so much about how to conduct a study in the past few weeks. After imputing all of the old data from the first part of the study into spreadsheets, Professor Corter and Davie decided that I was ready to sit in on some studies. For the first few sessions, I sat and observed the process while taking notes. At first, it seemed incredibly overwhelming because there were so many details that go into the experimentation process. First, Davie would have the participants sign an informed consent form and then give them the instructions for their first task. She then set her stopwatch for 15 minutes and would tell them when they had five minutes remaining. After participants finished their first task, they were given a different map and had to do a similar task. This second task varied between groups. For example, participants in the individual condition worked alone on their second task while participants in the group condition had to work together.
For this second task, the participants’ hands would be videotaped so that we would have data on gestures. While the participants read their instructions, I had to set up the camera on top of the table so that it would be taping the hands of the participants. After they complete their second task, we give the participants an exit survey. Finally, after they have completed their exit survey, participants sign a sheet and get their $10 compensation if they are not doing the study for class credit. After participants leave, the experimenter must photocopy the maps and then fax copies to Professor Corter. The original maps are brought upstairs to the office while the copies remain in the conference room.
I was granted quite a bit of responsibility because for two weeks, both Professor Corter and Davie are away. Hence, I have been scheduling participants and running the study by myself. The majority of our participants see flyers on campus advertising our study. They email the Relief Aid Team and say that they are interested in participating. I regularly check this email and schedule participants. It is very frustrating when I schedule a participant and then they don’t show up to the study. Most of the time, the participant does not even send a cancellation notice. However, when participants do show up, the studies run smoothly. I have to decide what condition we give the participants and make sure that I hand out the correct sheets. I then must do the exact procedure I described earlier.
Both learning how to do this study and the study itself connects to STEM education. It took a while for Professor Corter and Davie to teach me the basics of conducting a study, and I can imagine it would take some time to teach students about the intricacies of research as well. There are so many aspects to conducting a study, including learning about ethical principles and understanding how to collect data. It may be helpful to teach children about the scientific method through experimentation and data collection, and I’m glad that I was able to see a real study so that I can one day convey that information to students. Furthermore, because I have been working so hard to put data in order, I will one day be able to teach students about data organization skills and the importance of keeping clear and thorough records. It is essential to keep data in order so that nothing gets misplaced or forgotten about.
Since I am in my second week of conducting the study alone, one of my goals is to continue having successful sessions. Another goal of mine is to schedule more participants and try to squeeze as many sessions into this week as I possibly can so that we have a lot of data to work with. Finally, once Professor Corter and Davie get back, I will be able to devote more attention to data input. I am very excited for the upcoming weeks because we will probably be analyzing the data soon. This means that we will be able to draw some statistically significant conclusions about collaborative learning.
Overall, my experience at Teachers College so far has been fascinating and enjoyable. It has been an honor to work with such intelligent and creative people on their ongoing study. I am so lucky to have gotten the opportunity to run study sessions on my own almost immediately after getting cleared by the IRB. Finally, I am very excited for the next few weeks because I will get to speak to Professor Corter and Davie about our findings and what they mean.
Working at Teachers College on a research study with Professor James Corter has been very exciting for me so far. I am truly enjoying the work on collaborative learning and gesture that we have been doing. My experiences have already been extremely insightful and meaningful especially because the study I am working on relates so well to the psychology of learning and to STEM education itself.
In the experiment we have been performing, the task that participants must complete involves creating an imaginary “relief aid” road and route between certain points (a.k.a. the cities) on a map. Participants are told that their design must contain the shortest road and route possible.
For the past three weeks, I have been helping Professor Corter organize this prior research before we begin the new stage of the study that will be completed this summer. I began my internship by examining the maps and measuring the distances between cities (the points on each map) so that Professor Corter could determine which route was truly the shortest. I then went through each map where participants had connected the points to make roads and proceeded to record both the connected points and the direction of the route into a spreadsheet. I made a long list of each map trial to make sure we did not accidentally omit any data.
In order for me to help out in the actual experimentation phase, I was required to take an online Institutional Review Board Social and Behavioral Researchers course because we are studying human subjects and I had to learn about the ethics of this sort of experiment. I finished and passed the course and was able to start watching the videos that had been recorded the participants figuring out roads and routes in the group setting.
Since then, I have been typing out transcripts of their conversations and recording each hand gesture they make so that we can later analyze the different motions. While we have not diverted much of our focus to gesture yet, we will soon be analyzing the importance of each hand movement in conversations.
In short, I have been thoroughly enjoying working with Professor Corter and his colleagues on their study involving collaborative learning and gesture. I am extremely excited to finally help out with the actual experiment after passing the required IRB course. It will be extremely fascinating to see the data that I have been meticulously working with come alive as I see the participants work together to create the shortest possible road and route.