Tuesday, May 13, 2014

URSP Student Jennifer Nakamura Researches the Delay of Gratification Task

Throughout my time in college, I have been exposed to many different disciplines within the field of psychology. The experiences I have had along with the classes I have taken led me to the decision to pursue a career as a school psychologist. After making this decision, I began working with Dr. Rowe in the school psychology department on an experiment that her and several graduate students were conducting involving self-discipline as a predictor of academic performance in elementary-age students. I felt that the research experience I would obtain from this study in particular would benefit me both in graduate school and in my eventual work with children in the school setting. I also added my own contribution to the study in the form of an in vivo delay of gratification task. Dr. Rowe felt this would complement the self-discipline data they were collecting and provide a valuable contribution to the experiment.

I spent a significant amount of time researching and developing the delay of gratification task and figuring out a way to incorporate it into the methodology of the original experiment. The data collection process includes administering an IQ test, an achievement test, and several self-discipline questionnaires. We structured the delay of gratification task in a way that we could administer it in the same testing session as the achievement test and we began collecting data including the in vivo delay of gratification task this past week. This process was rewarding for me because I was able to see my ideas successfully carried out in an experimental setting. We are hoping to continue to collect data for as many subjects as possible and then begin our analyses. During this time, I am helping with testing and data collection while also spending time on the writing portion of the project. The study has been accepted into the 2014 American Psychological Association Convention in the Division of School Psychology and Dr. Rowe and I are hoping to eventually publish it in a psychological journal. Most importantly, I am hoping to contribute to research that is being conducted by children in the school setting by finding whether self-discipline can potentially predict academic performance over and above IQ.