Several semesters ago I took a Spanish class that involved learning a lot about language education and policy in the U.S., and it included a service-learning component at a local Spanish-English immersion school. After taking this class, I was very interested in conducting research on dual language development in school contexts. I met my mentor, Dr. Adam Winsler, through the Honors in Psychology Program. I joined his lab to work as a research assistant on a project with him and Dr. Ellen Serafini, who taught the Spanish class, investigating how dual language learners are doing in school based on which type of language education program their schools offered. My senior honors thesis, part of Dr. Winsler’s ongoing Miami School Readiness Project, investigates how the grade at which dual language learners are classified as English proficient by district-wide criteria in Miami-Dade County relates to later academic outcomes such as GPA and high-stakes test scores.
I’ve now been working on my project since Spring 2017 through the Honors in Psychology Program. The amount of time I’ve spent on it has enabled me to learn so much about the topic in depth and to improve my research skills. I want to eventually pursue a PhD, and having undergraduate research experience has definitely made me better prepared! The opportunities for undergraduate research at Mason are excellent, and participating in the OSCAR program has been a great experience. On a daily basis I read a lot of background literature, work on writing the manuscript for my senior honors thesis, and learn about the statistical procedures I’m using and how to interpret results. I’m excited to present my project at NCUR 2018 in April!