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March 23, 2012
Over the years, Northwest Missouri State University students have consistently succeeded at the annual Great Plains Students’ Psychology Convention, and this year was no different as the students presented their research on their home turf.
More than 300 students from throughout the Midwest gathered at Northwest for two days in March as the campus hosted the 32nd annual Great Plains convention. Northwest had hosted the gathering only one other time in the convention’s history, in 1993.
Founded in 1981, the annual conference is an opportunity for students, who come from nearly 30 universities, to hear guest speakers and present psychology projects to their peers. This year’s convention included a Friday night banquet that featured Dr. Jeremy Wolfe, a professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, as the keynote speaker.
About 50 Northwest students teamed up and gave 14 research presentations during the convention, which featured a total of 136 student presentations. Seven presentations given by Northwest students received first- or second-place honors.
Among the first-place winners was a research project titled, “The Effects of Grading: Pen Color on College Students’ Perceptions of Teacher Feedback.” Northwest students Tanya Anders, Anna Bagby, Maria Brought, Erika Hanson and Lauren Peters presented the research, which was sponsored by Dr. Carla Edwards, professor and chair of Northwest’s Department of Psychology, Sociology and Counseling.
The study evaluated the effect that the pen color professors use when grading has on college students’ perceptions. Research participants read a short, narrative paper in both ungraded and graded versions before completing a survey about their perceptions of the feedback. The results showed the students perceived feedback written in green ink as more insulting than feedback written in blue ink; red ink fell in the middle.
Anders, a senior biology and psychology major from Raytown, said the conference helps students gain valuable experience in addition to the pride of competing with students attending top institutions, including Creighton University, Kansas State University and Missouri State University.
“The experience allows for personal growth in that you learn exactly what it takes to successfully create and present a research study,” Anders said. “Thus, the experience helps not only in developing those skills, but it serves to strengthen them as well.”
Northwest students Kyla Johnson, Alysha Woolridge and Clyde Turner earned a second-place award for their research, “College Students' Preferences Toward Professors With Accents,” which Edwards also sponsored.
For the study, college students of varied levels and ethniticities listened to four professors – two with accents and two without – and answered questions about the professors’ teaching style and delivery. Participants showed a preference to professors without accents.
Like many Northwest students at the convention, Johnson, a senior psychology major from Kansas City, participated in hopes of broadening her knowledge in the psychology field as well as networking with other students and professionals with similar interests. Presenting research also helped broaden her knowledge.
“I gained a lot from this experience,” Johnson said. “I was able to improve my verbal communication skills, meet new people, network and learn a little more about the research side of psychology. I also learned there are so many different ways one can conduct an experiment. What I enjoyed most was looking at other students’ projects and learning about why they chose the topic they did and how they went about conducting their research experiments.”
Students in Northwest’s Social Sciences Research Group (SSRG), which consists of students who come from all areas of study and are interested in research, gave several of the presentations. Student in Northwest’s Psych/Soc Society and the Psi Chi honors society also participated in the convention.
“We all dedicated numerous hours and put in a lot of hard work and effort. To see this all pay off by placing in the convention was a great achievement,” said Kasaundra Victor, a junior comprehensive psychology sociology major from Liberty, whose research group earned first place for its presentation, “Helping Behavior, Gender & Wheelchairs.”
Associate Professor Dr. Rebecca Hendrix and Assistant Professor Dr. Alisha Francis were co-chairs of the convention. Hendrix said she measures the success of the convention not by the number of awards Northwest students receive but by what the students take away from the experience.
“My measure is the students’ reactions afterward,” Hendrix said. “When they say, ‘Hey, this wasn’t so bad,’ and ‘I want to do this next year,’ then I think we had a successful conference.”
For more information about the conference, including a listing of all winners, visit www.nwmissouri.edu/greatplains.
Presentations by Northwest students that received first- or second-place awards during the Great Plains convention are as follows:
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