STEP Project Reflection
My STEP project mainly entailed helping Patrick Whitmoyer, a clinical psychology doctoral student, with his dissertation project as part of the Clinical Neuroscience Lab at OSU. This involved helping with screening potential participants, supplying them with the surveys to be completed for the study, and preparing the participant data for analysis. The goals of the study are to determine age differences between the two groups (young and old adults) in different facets of emotion regulation and overall emotional wellbeing.
The main changes in my thinking as a result of this project are a better understanding of what clinical psychology/neuroscience research looks like. I gained a better understanding of what I will have to do in the future to complete a dissertation and obtain a PhD in clinical psychology, if I can get into a program. I learned that simply getting participants and screening them all to make sure they are eligible can be a long process, especially when you need over 250 participants that are gender and education matched, which was the case for the project I’ve been working on. I also learned about the several steps that are required once you have obtained all your participant data before you can properly conduct the statistical tests and analyses. For example, the data must be checked for outliers and if it is normally distributed, as different tests are needed depending on these things. Lastly, my views of Columbus as a city changed during my time outside of the lab this summer.
The things I learned over this summer were largely due to the work I did in the lab and the interactions I had with Pat and other graduate students. Through completing my assigned tasks and progressing through the stages of a clinical psychology research project for the first time, I was able to learn about which parts are difficult, time consuming, or necessary to complete before the project can continue. I learned through working about how to properly interact with participants in a research setting and how to answer certain questions or concerns they may have about the process. I also learned things to do that can make collecting and organizing the data more efficient such as creating excel sheets with specific layouts that the data from Qualtrics can be transferred to.
Many of the changes in my thinking of research and graduate school in general came from my conversations about things other than the research project that I had with Pat and other graduate students. Through these interactions I was able to receive advice on things such as studying for the GRE and applying to graduate schools. I was able to learn about what a doctoral program for clinical psychology is like and how it changes from year one to six. I was able to learn more about the long process of researching and writing up a dissertation proposal and all the steps that take place between the time the proposal is approved and the time you defend your dissertation in front of faculty (many of these steps I have been able to help Pat with during the past year).
Other transformations worth noting from this summer occurred outside of working in the lab altogether. Because of STEP, I was able to live in Columbus during the summer for the first time and experience Columbus in ways I previously did not when I was busy taking classes during fall and spring semesters. Before this summer, my experience and view of Columbus was largely restricted to OSU’s campus, but this summer I had more time (and a car) to explore more of Columbus such as its various metro parks, bike trails, Short North, and Easton. I also met OSU students during this summer who I was able to explore the city with. These experiences outside the lab transformed my view of Columbus significantly as I now view Columbus more positively and feel more like a resident of the whole city instead of just OSU.
This change I experienced during this summer is valuable for me because it has given me a better understanding of what will be required of me if I am to achieve my professional goals of becoming a psychology professor or clinical psychologist. To achieve either of these, I must first get into and complete a PhD in clinical psychology. Working and talking with Pat over the past year has opened my eyes to what completing a PhD actually looks like. I have found learning of his experiences and advice valuable because I can now picture myself in his situation more and decide if it is something I still want to pursue. I am not sure what exactly I thought of research before I joined this lab, but I now know firsthand that every research project is a long journey with many bumps that appear along the road. Despite these setbacks and complications that have arisen during my time helping with the project, I am still excited to help with the final analyses this fall and be part of contributing more knowledge on this topic to the world of research.