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Published: April 29, 2019 Author: Tony Meale

The Patton College of Education hosted the Undergraduate Honors Research Reception on April 2, as members of the Michelle Connavino Honors program led presentations about their individual and group research projects. Some projects are nearing completion, while others are in their infancy.

“All the topics are very much in the spirit of what the Honors Program intends to do,” said Dr. Dwan Robinson, Educational Studies chair. “The topics are very unique. They do have a promise of affecting change in education and, in their own way, including inquiry that’s going to change the lives of people in everyday school and community environments.”

The Connavino Honors Program provides a learning community for talented students majoring in teacher education. In addition to completing rigorous, inquiry-based courses, Honors students participate in a collaborative research project that addresses a significant pedagogical issue, with Patton College faculty serving as mentors throughout.

“I am immensely proud of our Honors students and their dedication to learning the craft of research,” said Honors Programs Director Dr. Mike Hess, Educational Studies assistant professor. “The research presentations offered this evening represent the best intentions of our Patton College Honors Programs.”

The event allowed students to showcase their research, which will ultimately be submitted to peer-reviewed journals for publication and disseminated via national-conference presentations.

Three students led individual presentations: Sarah Ahrendt presented “Using Literature to Understand Self-Image: Rural School Girls’ Image of Self,” Madeleine Gervason presented “Teaching Poetry in a High School Classroom,” and Marjia Giglio presented “Mediated Representations of Students with Autism in Netflix’s Atypical.”

Ahrendt, a junior, is a member of the Creating Active and Reflective Educators (CARE) program. Her work in the Federal Hocking School District inspired her project.

“I’m focusing on how development of self happens and what we can do as teachers to positively impact girls specifically,” said Ahrendt, an Adolescent to Young Adult Integrated Language Arts major. “Being in the same school system for four years through the CARE program, I’m able to interact with students on a personal level. The Honors Program has allowed me to engage with students on a different level through research.”

There were also four group presentations, including Annie Dill and Rosie Lamb’s “Perceptions of Improvements of Adults Enrolled in the Aspire Program.” Aspire provides free services to individuals who need assistance acquiring skills to be successful in post-secondary education, training, and employment. Ohioans 18 and older with less than a 12th-grade education are eligible to participate.

“This project (has inspired) us,” said Dill, a freshman Middle Childhood Education major. “I love getting to explore different problems and seeing if we can come up with a solution for them – and possibly help impact someone’s life.”

Lamb, a freshman Special Education Major, agreed.

“I look forward to getting to interview people and do observations next semester,” she said. “Right now, it’s all theoretical, so it’s going to be really exciting to start conducting our research.”

Meanwhile, Grace Lowe, Averie Hicks, Jacob Lundgren, and Tyler Wulf presented “Law Enforcement’s Effect on High School Culture.”

“We all went to suburban high schools, and we noticed a significant change even from when we were juniors to when we graduated because of everything going on – like the Florida shooting (at Parkland High School),” said Lowe, a sophomore Middle Childhood Mathematics and Social Studies major. “We all had a different shift in our school environments and are interested to see if other schools were affected similarly.”

In addition, Avery Ausher, Regan Burridge, Emma Dickman, and Danielle Swaim presented “Parental Involvement’s Effect in Rural Schools,” while Erin Knight, Brianna Hoffman, and Alissa Reichard presented “Rural Teacher’s Opinions on Out of Classroom Experiences.”

“Our project started out as one person’s proposal,” said Knight, a sophomore Special Education major. “Then we realized we could all reflect upon our own ideas, and it really came together.”

Robinson, who delivered the keynote address at the reception, was impressed with every project – and presenter.

“Our Honors scholars are not living below their capacity; they are thriving,” she said. “Michelle Connavino envisioned the program as a way to inspire and engage educators in extended research opportunities toward changing and improving public education. We need to think about how our work as researchers – and how school stakeholders and communities where we live – coexist.”

Group of Honors Students with Dr. Mike Hess

Photographer: Gabe HannahsDr. Mike Hess (left) poses with a four-person team who presented research "Law Enforcement's Effect on High School Culture." Students from left to right include Tyler Wulf, Averie Hicks, Grace Lowe and Jacob Lundgren.

Honors students Annie Dill and Rosie Lamb

Photographer: Gabe HannahsHonors students Rosie Lamb, left, and Annie Dill, right, explain their research to Patton College Student Affairs Director Ben Forche.