STEP Reflection

Maria Zulliger

I was an Undergraduate Research Assistant for the ABLE Project at the Ohio State Eye and Ear Institute Psychosocial Cognitive Lab for my STEP Signature Project. The ABLE (The Adjustment, Behavior, Language and Executive Functioning) Project studies how language and executive function affect pyschosoical outcomes in children with and without hearing loss. As a research assistant, I helped with transcribing audio from video, coding, entering data, participant testing, and other office related tasks. I also presented some of our research at the Denman Undergraduate Research Forum and CogFest 2018.

My understanding of myself, my assumptions on research, and my view of the world changed while completing my project. Before I took on the role as a research assistant, I did not fully know what was involved in performing, documenting, and presenting research. This past year I was able to learn about all of the careful work that must be done to make sure the research process is approved and to avoid bias. I also learned all that must be done to check over our work to make sure that information is entered properly and that we record all of the necessary information. Lastly, I learned what is involved in preparing for a research presentation, such as writing an abstract and making a poster.

Many events and relationships led to my transformation. I gained much confidence in oral presentations by presenting in the Denman Undergraduate Research Forum and Cogfest 2018. As I presented more, I become less nervous about speaking in front of judges and professors. I also gained more knowledge about our research through these presentations by seeing all of our significant data put together and by creating a poster. Many questions were asked after I presented that made me think critically about our work. This project taught me about the impact a mother’s language choice can have on her child’s neurocognitive development, something I had no knowledge of before taking part in this research.

Relationships with the members of our team for the ABLE Project also led to my transformation. My research mentor and lab coordinator taught me how to do the tasks I was responsible for in our research and helped me when I was creating the poster and practicing my presentation since it was my first time participating in research. Their feedback made me feel more confident in the lab and when presenting.

Lab meetings also led to my transformation. I enjoyed when our entire team was together and could discuss aspects of our project. I also enjoyed learning more about certain aspects of our project through presentations on those topics. These meetings helped to developed stronger interpersonal and critical thinking skills.

This development is valuable because I can apply all that I learned to my future endeavors in the dental field. I can use my critical thinking skills and detail-oriented methods in dental school. I can also use my interpersonal skills and strengthened confidence to help build relationships with patients and other professionals. In addition, I gained exposure working and building relationships with the ABLE Project team which helped me to practice patience, collaboration, and support for each other. Experience in a professional environment and learning the scientific process through research will ultimately help to be successful in the field.


One thought on “STEP Reflection

  1. Maria,

    Thank you for sharing your experience. It is easy to see this was a transformative experience for you. It looks like you gained a lot skills you can apply to future opportunities and reaffirmed some of your career goals, like wanting to work with patients. Best of luck this semester!


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