For me, school mobility has always been very personal. Growing up in a military family, I moved eight times, attended nine schools, and lived on three continents. In an effort to better understand both my own experiences and those like me, I dove into literature attempting to unravel two main questions. The first, who is moving? Next, how are mover’s different from non-movers? While there is a long-standing belief that school mobility has negative consequences on academic performance and school completion, there seems to be subpopulations such as the Department of Defense dependents who continue to maintain an average or above average grade in class and graduate with a high school diploma. For this reason, I am examining child-level predictors of school mobility in middle school students.
On a weekly basis, I meet with either my mentor, Dr. Adam Winsler, to discuss progress and feedback on my latest thesis revision, or with graduate students to work on making variables or learning how to run data analyses. Throughout this process, I’ve discovered how to conduct chi-squared tests for my categorical variables (demographics, primary exceptionality status, and elementary school retention) and t-tests for my continuous variables (school readiness variables and Grade 5 academic performance). I am currently in the process of interpreting the descriptive statistics and bivariate analyses to write a first draft of my results and discussion section. In addition to this, I am preparing for two poster presentations at which to disseminate my findings – the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research and the Association for Psychological Science.
Having this opportunity to conduct my own independent honors thesis, engage with experts in the field, bring awareness to school mobility, and contribute to the general body of knowledge has been a great privilege. It has given me training in statistical software, professional communication skills, and research experience; thereby, preparing me immensely for pursuing a MD-PhD program specializing in psychiatry and French.