In the competitive world of graduate school admissions, every student is looking for some sort of experience to give them the extra edge. Three psychology students found theirs when their work alongside Distinguished Psychology Professor Laraine Glidden was recently published.
Senior Psychology majors Katie Bamburger and Kelli Hill started their work with Glidden early in their sophomore years when she offered them an opening in her study. Senior Kevin Turek, after hearing from Hill and Bamberger about the project, signed on to the project that Spring. According to Hill, she, Bamburger, and Turek have primarily worked on data analysis and presentation and writing and editing the manuscript sent out for publishing. According to Glidden, students who have worked with her in the past have also helped her with interviewing and coding. She added, however, that she usually works with alumni instead of current students and that it is “very unusual” for undergraduate students to be published.
Glidden’s study, known as Project Parenting, is a more than 20-year longitudinal study comparing families with biological children with developmental disabilities to those who voluntarily adopt children with disabilities. According to Glidden, she started the project because “back in the [1980’s], there was the belief that families with children with disabilities were disabled families.” She added that it was common back then for doctors to even go so far as suggest children showing early signs of developmental disabilities be institutionalized. So far, according to Glidden, the study has generally shown little to no difference in the coping potential and quality of life between the two different groups.
Both Glidden and student researchers believe that the experience was highly valuable. Hill said that the best part of the entire experience is “having that published manuscript under your belt, and making a poster as an [undergraduate].” Bamburger agreed, stating it “makes [graduate] school a lot less scary,” and that the experience “was totally worth the five hours a week.”
Turek noted how unique the experience was for an undergraduate, and said that when they went to conventions to show off their work, “everyone thought we were [graduate] student or post-[doctorate].”
Hill and Bamburger are going on to graduate research at University of Kansas and Penn State, respectively, and both acknowledge their directed research opportunity. Bamburger said, “I’m a good student, but I would absolutely not have gotten into Penn State had I not had this experience.” Turek is remaining at St. Mary’s to get his Pre-medical degree, but also acknowledges that the experience will most likely be of great use and that “research techniques and methods [are] apparently important in any field.”
Glidden said that any student who wishes to get involved in faculty directed research should talk to professors who work in a field of interest, and have a working knowledge of the subject matter. Hill said that having research skills, especially in statistics and methods, is also a necessity. Glidden added that at a school such as St. Mary’s, directed research of this kind is “always an option.”