Thursday, November 7, 2013

URSP Highlights: Kevone Bennett

The relationship between bilingualism and cognitive flexibility 
While attending a psychology careers presentation, I learned about the Human Factors and Applied Cognition program offered at George Mason. I researched the program and its corresponding undergraduate courses. I also began exploring ways to become involved in research, and I soon became a research assistant in Dr. Robert Youmans’ creativity research laboratory.  I have already obtained firsthand research experience on creativity and design fixation. Ultimately, I would like to pursue a career in the field of Human Factors upon receiving a Masters of Arts degree. Becoming an OSCAR scholarship recipient will provide me with further research experience that will lead me to improve my written communication skills, and strengthen my knowledge of research.

The origin of my project stems from my interest in researching the advantages of bilingualism. I am Jamaican and I have a strong connection to my cultural background. As part of my education in Jamaica, I had to learn about different cultures particularly because Jamaican Creole is made up of several languages (i.e., English, Dutch, Spanish and French). This semester, I have been helping conduct research on Human Factors-related topics, such as individual differences in working memory capacity and cognitive flexibility. This research has leaded me to develop my own research project, which explores what mental advantages a bilingual person may possess. My project objective is to explore the relationship between bilingualism and cognitive flexibility. The purpose of the study is to find out if bilinguals outperform monolinguals on a behavioral assessment task.

At the start of every week, I write down the objective for each day. If they are not met, I complete it in another day. My week is usually composed of data collection, talking to international clubs and speaking with my mentor. This week I discovered that the Institutional Review Board is more concerned with the safety of the participants rather than the science of project. The IRB is interested in the purpose and the instrumentation of the research, but they want to make participants will be safe and the project is without risk.