As you may recall from your STEP signature project proposal, your STEP signature project was designed to foster transformational learning—that is, learning that challenged you personally and helped you gain broader and deeper understandings of yourself, others, and the world around you. Please address the following prompts to help you reflect on your experiences completing your STEP signature project; please give careful and critical thought to your responses.
Name: Brielle Hudson
Type of Project: Research Experience
- Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.
My STEP Signature Project allowed me to create an independent research study to expand upon the research that I had previously been involved in. My project allowed me to investigate the relationship between childhood negative stressful life events and the development of psychosis. Through this research project, I was able to develop and practice my empirical and analytic skills.
- What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.
This project had a tremendous impact on my focus within the field of psychology. Prior to completing this project, my main focus in research was mood disorders. Furthermore, because I was so intrigued with mood disorders, I tended to focus solely on biological factors and completely ignored environmental factors. Exploring stress and trauma’s influence on the development of psychosis shifted my focus to be inclusive and mindful of environmental interactions and influences. Further, this experiment solidified my passion for research and has encouraged me to pursue research in my graduate schooling.
- What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation. Another key aspect of this experience was the data analysis skills that I acquired. Prior to this experience, I barely knew how to navigate SPSS. To analyze and sort my data I was required to not only build my own database, but to also learn and create syntax. Both of these tasks seemed monumental at the start of my project but now seem second nature. Further, my mentor encouraged me to decide on the types of analysis that was most appropriate to analyze my data. Having hands on experience collecting, sorting and analyzing data gave me a broader perspective on the holistic process that is research.
- Finally, another significant aspect of this experience was my comfort with developing hypothesis and being patient with my results. I had to revise my initial research question multiple times. My mentor was extremely encouraging and patient with me, which challenged me to be more patient with myself. My results were largely inconclusive and insignificant, yet I learned so much throughout this experience and feel better equipped to modify my hypothesis and methodologies to reevaluate my topic of interest.
- One key aspect of my STEP experience was working so closely with faculty members. My mentor and the lab that hosted me played a vital role in the execution of my project. My mentor encouraged and challenged me to uncover as much existing literature about the topic as I could. While at times mundane, these literary analysis familiarized me with the existing literature that pertains to mood disorder and childhood stressful life events. This process also taught me to look for gaps in the literature and transform them into research questions. Further, these literary analysis familiarized me with the existing measures and methodologies used to evaluate these topics.
- Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.
All of the transformations that I have undergone throughout this experience have been significant to me because it has allowed me to become more confident in my future goals. Before this experience, I was interested in research but did not have enough research experience to decide if I wanted to pursue a career in research. While I acknowledge that I still have more research experiences to gain, I am now solidified in my passion and love of the research process. Further, working with my mentor encouraged me to ask questions to faculty in order to get a better understanding of how their journeys ultimately led them to their careers. This transformation is significant because it allowed me a preview into the work that I hope to do as a career and reignited my determination to achieve my goals.