College of Education Students Present Research Findings at Capitol
by David Price (April 2010)
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Two College of Education undergraduates studying special education recently represented Penn State University Park when they presented their research findings at the state capitol in Harrisburg.
Krista Farace and Liz Nolan presented on the effectiveness of self-regulated strategies to improve writing skills in students with emotional or behavioral disabilities. Krista, who will graduate in spring 2010, focused on the story-writing strategy known as POW+WWW; Liz, who graduated in December 2009, examined the persuasion strategy POW+TREE. Both had been students of Linda Mason, assistant professor of special education.
Their presentations were part of the Undergraduate Research at the Capitol event on March 23. Students and faculty from 25 Pennsylvania institutions of higher education participated, including undergraduates from four Penn State campuses. The semi-annual event is held in twenty states throughout the nation.
"These strategies are working!" Krista says. "Although geared mostly toward struggling writers at younger ages, these strategies teach basic writing skills on different genres of writing and can be used at any age."
(POW is an abbreviation for the structural concepts of "pick your idea, organize your idea, and write and say more about your idea." The WWW asks the writer to identify: Who is the main character? When does the story take place? Where does the story take place? Then WWW additionally asks, what does the main character do? What happens? How does the story end? And how do the characters feel? In the TREE strategy T = Topic sentence, R = Reasons (three or more), E = Explanations for the reasons, and E = Ending sentence.)
The URC event offers students the opportunity to demonstrate their intellectual ability to the members and staff of the General Assembly.
"The sophistication of these projects demonstrates the intellectual ability of the students who attend the Commonwealth's colleges and universities," remarked Speaker of the House Keith McCall. "Their work is a testimonial to the dedication of the faculty who mentor them, and I am confident that these students will learn a lot through participating in this conference."
The goals of the event are to demonstrate that participating in research as an undergraduate is important to the educational development of college students and to show that undergraduate students can conduct valuable research that is important to our communities. Their projects addressed research questions in the physical, life and social sciences; engineering; information technology; and humanities.