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    Connections Newsletter
    Issue 2                                                                                                                                         Spring Semester 2012


    Notes from the Collaborative

    A Note from the Collaborative Director

    Collaborative Opportunities

    Research & Academic Travel Funding Opportunities

    Collaborative Research Showcase

    2011 Summer-Fall Collaborative Grants Awards

    Snapshot of Summer-Fall Collaborative Grants

    Student-Faculty Development Endowment Fund Award Recipients

    McNair Scholars Presentations

    Student Profiles

    United Nations New York Trip

    Sponsor: Dr. Gratzia Villarroel

    VanSchyndel & Hill-Soderlund


    Important Dates

    Mar. 19, 2012 Collaborative Summer-Fall Grant applications due

    Mar. 29-31, 2012 National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR)

    Apr. 20, 2012 Collaborative Continuation Grant applications due

    May 4, 2012 Student Academic Travel Grant and Attendee Grant applications due





    Collaborative Work:

    "Regulation in Early Childhood: Strategy Use and Prediction of Performance Across effortful Control Tasks"

    Reflection by Sarah VanSchyndel

    An important developmental milestone in early childhood is learning how to delay gratification.  For example, when a child sees an attractive toy that another child is playing with, s/he must work out an arrangement with the other child to share the toy (even if that means waiting until the other child is finished with it), instead of impulsively taking it.  This ability develops as a part of a larger process called effortful control, defined as the ability to inhibit a dominant response (taking the toy immediately) in favor of a more appropriate, subdominant one (waiting to play with it).  Children who develop a high level of effortful control have better peer interactions, exhibit less aggression, and display more empathy later in life.  They also tend to have better grades and stay in school longer than children with a lower effortful control capacity.


    In Dr. Hill-Soderlund’s lab we examine the way four and five year-old children regulate emotional responses during delay of gratification tasks and how that behavior predicts performance across effortful control tasks.  With a group of other students, I helped create a coding scheme for regulation strategies and coded videotapes for the strategies children used within every 10 seconds of the tasks.  Last semester, I helped train a separate group of RAs on coding each child’s emotional expressions within every 10 seconds during each of these tasks.  Currently, we have done some preliminary data analysis on the way emotions function to contemporaneously motivate specific strategies, the findings of which I have presented at the Society for Research in Child Development Biennial Meeting, an international conference in child development that was held in Montreal at the beginning of April, 2011.  Dr. Hill-Soderlund and I plan to draft a manuscript from this data which we will submit for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

    As a freshman and sophomore, when I heard people say, “I do research,” I remember automatically cringing; that type of work, I was sure, wasn’t something I would be happy doing. Now, after three semesters of working on this project, I have been accepted into a Ph.D. program in developmental psychology, and I hope to use this degree to secure a job as a professor and researcher in an academic institution.  My involvement in research really began with a question, something in the literature that I found completely fascinating; that question, for me, was: how do emotion and cognition interact to facilitate self-regulation?  After taking the Development in Infancy and Toddlerhood course with Dr. Hill-Soderlund, I recognized that, although our interests aren’t identical, Dr. Hill-Soderlund’s research was related to this question I was fascinated with.  And, with that, we began a research project.

    I can’t adequately convey how exciting the research process is when you are investigating a question you find particularly fascinating.  Because I was so interested in this project, my idea of research was transformed into a living entity; it became real to me.  I came to understand it as a process that was continually adapting to new problems and demands; I found it innovative and largely self-directed. Before I knew it, I was looking for Ph.D. programs at large research universities, and my entire future was remapped before my eyes.  Even if you know you’re not interested in a research career, getting involved with research allows you to think critically about an area that interests you, to discover it in a way you had never experienced before.  That, in and of itself, is more rewarding than I can describe. For this reason, in particular, I would highly recommend getting involved in research at whatever level suits your particular interests and needs.  As in my case, you may be surprised by what you find, and it could impact your future in a very real way.  


    Reflection by Dr. Ashley Hill-Soderlund

    Sarah showed a real interest in Developmental Psychology as a student in my Infant and Toddler development course and expressed an interest in continuing some of the work we did in class the following semester.  With two other students, Sarah reviewed the literature and we developed a hypothesis that is based on emotion as a functional process, rather than something that must always be harnessed by cognition. For example, frustration can serve to motivate a person, to help one to persist on a task, or to stand up for oneself. This idea has been well received during Sarah’s recent presentation at SRCD, a national conference on development. In addition to her time working in my lab, Sarah was also part of the McNair Scholarship program. I was Sarah’s mentor for McNair and facilitated her summer research project with my colleague, Dr. David Bridgett at Northern Illinois University.  Sarah conducted similar research while at NIU that also examined the function of emotion.  We have plans to write up findings from both projects for publication. In addition, Sarah has decided to pursue a career in Developmental Psychology and will be starting graduate school at Arizona State University in the Fall of 2011. It has been a rewarding collaboration to work with Sarah over these last few years.   



    St. Norbert Collaborative

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    Fax: (920) 403-4086

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