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.