Wednesday, May 7, 2014

URSP Student Christina Lau Explores the Process of Self-Regulation among Middle School Math Students

My project seeks to explore the processes of self-regulation among elementary students studying math. In particular, the aims of my study was to examine how 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students employ self-regulated learning processes (e.g. setting goals, motivation, self-monitoring, and self-reflection) during a math problem and whether there are any differences in self-regulation processes among low, average, and high achieving students.

As an undergraduate student, doing research was an area that I really wanted to explore. Being at a large “research” university, I got the opportunity to be a participant in a variety of research as well as be a research assistant on several research projects within psychology (e.g. Human Factors, Developmental psychology). During the time that I was a research assistant on these projects, I realized that I was interested in doing my own research and going to graduate school.

I became involved on this project with my mentor when I realized my research interest was in educational psychology. Particularly, I wanted to focus on self-regulation because I like that it is very broad, yet highly important in academic learning. With this project, my mentor and I were able to design a research study to measure self-regulation in a way that has never been explored before.

Throughout the semester, I mostly read articles related to my study, analyze data, and write. Depending on the task, sometimes I may be working on the same task for an extended period of time, while other times I may work on one task and finish in a few days. During the past several weeks, for example, I have been entering data and working with my mentor on analyzing it. After analyzing the data, I write the report for the results based on empirical articles of similarity to my study. In doing these tasks, I discovered that the process of doing research at each step requires organization, persistence, and patience. For me, writing the results was one of the more rigorous tasks. After several attempts at trying to code the data and reorganizing it, I slowly began to understand the results and connect them to my writing. In all, this unique experience taught me valuable insights about the research process along with skills (e.g. SPSS, technical writing), which in turn helped me to become a better researcher.