Research is an interesting field in that it is often thought to be very strict or defined, however, it also requires a lot of creativity and flexibility. For example, when the project that I am first working on started, it involved in-person visits, whereas, with COVID-19, the visits transitioned to occurring over zoom. This led to some differences in the data collected and the methods that were used. Therefore, the researchers had to come up with new protocols that were similar to the old but were adaptable to the new mode of data collection. I thought this showcased how important it is in research to be able to have mechanisms that allow you to be flexible and adaptable when new circumstances arise. Although research might be associated as being contained to a lab, plenty of times it involves real-world principles so that the results can be generalizable and useful to a wider population. Since the real world is often not something under our control, it can often affect our research, and that is why we have to be very understanding and accepting of any changes that might occur beyond our control. Before this research project, I always envisioned research to be very controlled and this showcased how research involves a lot more humanistic and artistic aspects than I had originally anticipated.
On top of these changes, I also started working on a new project in my lab, which was also concerned with math development. As I transitioned to working on both projects, I found that some of the best resources are your mentors or your co-lab workers, as they often have a lot of insight and can help clarify any questions and guide you along the way. I was very lucky to be able to have other amazing individuals that were very sweet and understanding that worked in my lab that helped me with any clarifications, and this really emphasized how research is also a very collaborative field. It requires multiple individuals working together to get a large-scale study to happen, and I learned that during this research. That is why after CURF ends, I am hoping to continue working in the same laboratory to continue during research on cognitive development. I’ve really enjoyed the individuals I have worked with, alongside being able to go into the field to do data collection while also being able to code data. Through this lab, I’ve been fortunate to learn various aspects of psychology research, and I hope to continue learning more by spending more time on these projects.
These projects include 1) a study that is looking at how the gender of a parent and the household language can have an impact on math talk elicited by either the parent or the child and thus how it impacts math development overall and 2) implementing various techniques at preschools and kindergartens to see how they help kids math skills develop. In the first project, I previously worked on transcribing videos, where I would watch a video and use specific software to transcribe the interactions between the parent and child. Now, I’m working on coding the transcribed videos to categorize the present math talk into the various aspects of math talk so that we can break down math development into multiple components. For the second project, we are currently in the stage of data collection, so I’ve gone to different schools in the greater Pittsburgh and farther areas to get a better understanding of where kids’ math skills are prior to any testing. Overall, I’ve really enjoyed doing CURF to reflect back on the research I have done, and get a chance to see the research other students are also conducting.