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Thursday, April 19, 2012

UNCP graduate students’ work displayed

Candidates for a master’s degrees at UNCP presented their research at the university’s 5th annual graduate student poster session on March 27.

“Research is an integral part of graduate study,” said Dr. Sara Simmons, dean of the School of Graduate Studies. “Events like the poster session are important venues to showcase student work.”

Lindsey Riley, left, and her research poster with elementary education professor Dr. Karen Stanley

Lindsey Riley, left, and her research poster with elementary education professor Dr. Karen Stanley

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Lindsey Riley, a graduate student in elementary education, investigated ways to help children with language difficulties; her award-winning poster mapped out her methods and the results of her research.

“The method I researched helps children connect prior experience to new knowledge,” Riley said. “It works well for new English-language learners and all students. Of the 40 students in my 5th grade classes, Spanish is the first language for 18 of them.”

Riley teaches in Sampson County, lives Duplin County and attended graduate elementary education classes through UNCP’s satellite program at Bladen Community College.

“It has been great,” she said. “I was intimidated at first, but the professors are great, and it has been a growing experience for me personally.” Riley now hopes to continue her education and earn a doctorate.

Like Riley, many of the students at the event focused their research on topics relevant to them professionally and personally.

Tiffany Noel Dial, who is earning a master’s degree in science education, will be entering into the job market soon. She believes her research is relevant to her future in education.

“I am a science tutor at UNCP,” she said. “I did a survey of students who are struggling with biology to see what motivates them.

“I am going to be a science teacher, and I’ve found that the problems college students have with science relates to things they didn’t get in high school,” she said. “I want to make sure they get it.”

Jason Smith knows a lot about overcoming adversity, and he plans to make a career of helping others struggling with challenges. He didn’t let three knee surgeries prevent him from a college basketball career, for example. Now a candidate for a master’s degree in sports administration, he wants to be a basketball coach. In his research, he looked into ways that sports can help kids overcome adversity.

“I volunteered in a community sports program with kids,” Smith said. “I tried to tie basketball to resiliency skills in every day life for the kids. I believe that to help kids learn how to overcome problems will make them better people.”

For some graduate students, the simple act of conducting research is also relevant to them, since it adds to their knowledge and builds skills for the future.

Graduate Student Association – New on campus this year, the group was recruiting members at the Poster Session. From left: President John Edwards, a candidate for a Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health, Vice President Marri Brooks, Social Studies Education, and Sydney Bens, MBA.

Graduate Student Association – New on campus this year, the group was recruiting members at the Poster Session. From left: President John Edwards, a candidate for a Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health, Vice President Marri Brooks, Social Studies Education, and Sydney Bens, MBA.

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Kendall Dorr, an English instructor at Fayetteville Technical Community College, is studying English education at UNCP. She prepared a poster on her historical research of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.

“March 25 is the…anniversary of the fire that killed 146 factory workers, mostly young women, who were recent immigrants,” Dorr said. “To me, this story is a valuable lesson because we all work somewhere, and factory work is still dangerous. Research is part of my career. It’s why we go to school – to learn more.”

Pamela Bozeman was a philosophy and religion major as an undergraduate and is now seeking a Master of Business Administration degree at UNCP. With the goal of earning a doctorate, she worked for two semesters on her research project with UNCP business professor Dr. Eric Dent.

Bozeman’s project studied the relationship between business practice and the prevailing belief systems of the captains of industry in the early 20th century.

“This was an important time in our history, but you can’t understand business globally unless you understand the religion of the people,” she said. “The reading, writing and research I’ve done have really paid off. Dr. Dent is an awesome teacher; I’ve learned so much. It’s amazing.”

Bozeman plans to use her skills to become a consultant. She has written a book she says is a roadmap for success for college students and their families.

“I love higher education, but it’s not easy,” Bozeman said. “My real goal is to improve retention at UNC institutions.”

“We are so proud of our graduate students whose scholarship was showcased in this year’s poster session,” Dr. Simmons said. “The quality of the poster presentations was high, and the students were articulate and passionate as they discussed their research topics with attendees,” she continued.

Along with the poster session, graduate program directors held an information session to give insight about their programs to prospective students as well as to interested faculty, staff and community members.

“What a great way to share with prospective students the ways in which a graduate education imparts benefits to individuals as well as to their families and the broader community!” Dr. Simmons said.

Dr. Irene Aiken, associate dean in the graduate school, plans and organizes the poster session each year. “The experience celebrates the work of our students but also encourages participants to share their research in other venues, collaborate with colleagues on future projects and gain ideas from others,” she said.

At the Graduate Research Poser Session, Jason Smith, left, a graduate student in Sports Administration, explains his research on resiliency and youth sports to judges. From left: Dr. Warren Eller, Valerie Austin, Dr. Velinda Woriax, Lt. Col. David Walton, guest judge, and Dr. Roger Ladd

At the Graduate Research Poser Session, Jason Smith, left, a graduate student in Sports Administration, explains his research on resiliency and youth sports to judges. From left: Dr. Warren Eller, Valerie Austin, Dr. Velinda Woriax, Lt. Col. David Walton, guest judge, and Dr. Roger Ladd

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The students’ poster presentations were judged by Lt. Col. David Walton, education director at Fort Bragg, and Drs. Valerie Austin, Warren Eller, Roger Ladd and Velinda Woriax.

The judges selected two posters for special recognition: Lindsey Riley’s presentation, “Improving Student Comprehension Using the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol,” and business administration students Anh Pham and Brian McCormick’s project, “Strategic Planning at Laurinburg-Maxton Airport.”

Two additional presenters earned honorable mention. Matthew Dial, a science education major, presented “Changing Nature of Science Views in Undergraduate Biology Majors Using Case Stories on the History of Science.” Joel Mayo, a student in the Master of Arts in Teaching program with a specialization in English education, presented “The Working Class Hero in Don DeLillo’s ‘Take the A Train.’”

Creators of the two best posters will represent UNCP at the North Carolina Graduate Education Day to be held at the state Capitol in Raleigh on May 23.

Graduate Education Week is sponsored by the North Carolina Conference of Graduate Schools. Graduate students representing North Carolina public and private universities will attend to highlight the importance of graduate programs to the state’s economy.

UNCP offers 17 graduate programs in business, public administration, social work, counseling and education. To learn more about graduate studies at UNCP, contact the office at 910.521.6271 or email grad@uncp.edu.

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