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.