Second Year Project Proposal

Part of obtaining a PhD in one of the experimental psychology programs at Utah State is delivering a project proposal at the beginning of your second year, then defending the project at the beginning of the third year. The rationale behind this is this: after you’ve been in graduate school for a year, you should probably have some valid research ideas and be able to design an experiment around them, carry that experiment out over the next year, then show what you did.

I’ve just started my second year in the Neuroscience PhD at USU and therefore just spent a good portion of the summer preparing for my second year project. It’s based on a research idea that I’ve had in the works for a long time- in fact, I came into my interview at USU knowing that I wanted to do exactly this research. I’ve spent a year filling in the blanks in my own understanding of the research question, paring down aspects that were too ambitious for my current abilities, and submitting the idea to review, feedback, and approval processes.

Honestly, I’m extremely proud of it. I love my research, I love talking about it, and I love that I get to actually do it as a job for (at least) the next few years. My proposal was this morning, and I’m happy to be able to share the video with you now.

Title: Numerical Cognition in Bilingual Education: Language Effects on Place Value Knowledge and Automaticity of Processing Two Digit Numbers

Abstract:  This study examines the behavioral differences in bilingual children who speak languages with different numerical base systems. The proposed sample is 75 eight-year-olds with no bilingual experience prior to attending first grade, including 50 children participating in either Spanish or Mandarin Chinese bilingual education and 25 children in monolingual general education. The sample will be chosen using purposive sampling due to local availability of bilingual education classrooms. This study uses a between-groups design. Measures included are Dot Number Stroop, Panamath, Number Line Estimation, and Test of Early Mathematics Abilities (TEMA-3). Students participating in Mandarin dual language immersion classrooms are hypothesized to have decreased reaction time on tests of automaticity of processing (Dot Number Stroop) as well as increased scores on a standardized math (TEMA-3), better-developed concepts of place value (Number Line Estimation), and increased scores on a test of ability to quickly judge quantities (Panamath). Results of this study will add a new perspective on cross-cultural and cross-linguistic development of numerical cognition.

I was a little nervous starting off, but calmed down and got into my groove a few slides into it. All my practice presentations that I recorded and listened to for self-feedback really paid off, I think. Even the questions that were asked at the end of the presentation were much easier than I expected them to be (though they aren’t included in the video).

Now that I’ve presented this, the next step is to start actually collecting some of this data. Time to start talking to second graders about math!


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