Published on April 27, 2018
While attending the Midwestern Psychological Association (MPA) meetings in Chicago earlier this month, MU senior Najeebah Hussain was impressed with the wide-range of interesting research topics being presented.
“There was a girl who did a study on how being an army brat shapes your life into adulthood” Hussain says. “I thought, ‘Wow, I would have never thought of that!’”
Hussain is one of 38 MU students in the Psychology Honors Research Capstone who attended the MPA meetings, the culminating event of the year-long capstone in which students conduct a study with individual faculty mentors.
As part of the capstone, students attend weekly seminars on topics ranging from writing literature reviews to creating posters to applying for graduate school. The students prepare research posters and present them at the MU Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievements Spring Forum and the MPA meetings, as well as write an honor thesis.
“I am interested in the students gaining an understanding of the science and research process that goes into psychology,” says Associate Professor of Psychology Nicole Campione-Barr. “The process of working with a faculty member, designing the research from start to finish and sharing the results helps students understand the backbone of our industry”
The capstone provides students an understanding of where knowledge comes from and how to write and understand research articles.
“The most beneficial part of the Psychology Honors Capstone has been getting a firsthand experience of developing and carrying out my own research project,” says Hussain, whose research deals with memory and eyewitness testimony.
Hussain was one of three MU students who were honored at the MPA meetings by Psi Chi, the international honor society for undergraduates in psychology. Hussain, Haley Benson and Kristin Thompson each received Psi Chi Regional Research Awards.
“I was honored and surprised to have won an MPA Regional Research Award,” Thompson says. “It means a lot that my research idea and abstract were considered award-winning and it feels great to be recognized for my hard work.”
Like Hussain, Benson was impressed with the breadth of research being shared at the MPA meetings.
“I loved walking around and asking my fellow classmates about their research and seeing all the interesting ideas people from other schools came up with,” she says.
Benson also enjoyed sharing her research with others.
“I had quite a few people stop and ask me about my research and how it was applicable, as well as professors and students who were researchers in the same area who were curious about the variables we used,” Benson says. “I really enjoyed having the opportunity to present everything I had been working on for so long.”
Thompson has been a research assistant in the Family Relationships and Adolescent Development lab for two years. For her capstone thesis, she used data that she helped to collect when families came to do lab visits.
“The Psychology Honors Capstone has been extremely beneficial to me,” Thompson says. “I have gained extensive knowledge of the research process, as well as experience with presenting at a conference.”
Following graduation, Thompson will pursue a masters of social work at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis, while Hussain and Benson both plan to take a gap year before pursing law school.