CURF 3: The Road Ahead

This semester, I worked a lot on my BPhil/Honors thesis project. One of the tasks I had to do for the honors thesis was to create a proposal and defend it to my committee. For this, I had to create and give a quick (15-20 min) presentation summarizing my proposal. I learned a great deal during this process and my grad student mentor, Alex Silver, was an amazing resource for me. She walked me through the entire process and gave me great tips on how to explain my work and keep it entertaining. For example, she told me to explain topics broadly and then gradually become more specific. Additionally, she explained not to have too many words on each slide and to utilize pictures and diagrams to help portray my messages. I had my proposal meeting early in the semester, and with these tips, it went really well. With a few adjustments, my proposal was approved, and I have been able to continue my BPhil process.

Currently, I am in the middle of doing work for my BPhil/Honors project. During the semester, I defended my thesis proposal and got it approved, so now I’m in the process of coding so that I can analyze my data next semester and write the rest of my thesis. Currently, we have 22 files left to be coded, 11 of which are assigned to me, which I hope to finish over winter break. I’m hoping to begin analyzing the data at the beginning of the Spring semester, and then write the results and discussion sections. In April, I plan to defend my thesis to my committee, which I am very excited for. Additionally, I submitted several poster abstracts to conferences and am currently waiting to hear back from them. Hopefully, I am admitted to at least one of these conferences and can begin creating a poster soon.

I have included a few photos of our coding manual to help describe more of what my project is looking at. The photo on the left shows some of the definitions for the concepts we are coding in our study. Overall, we are looking at parent and child elicitations, which are questions and prompts that are intended to evoke a response from the other person. Specifically, we are interested in when these elicitations are math related. Math related elicitations are any of these questions or prompts that include either number or spatial words. The photo on the right is our glossary of some of the words that are math related, including functions, numbers, ordinals, quantifiers, orientations/transformation words, shapes, and sequences. My specific research question that I am pursuing in my BPhil thesis is about children’s spontaneous math elicitations, which is when children ask about math content in a situation where their parent was not previously talking about math. To determine these instances, we do precipitation coding, which codes the parent’s last utterance before the elicitation; we code if the precipitation is math related or not. Children’s elicitations are spontaneous when the parent’s precipitation was not math related. Additionally, we look for relevance to make sure the child is adding to the current conversation with math concepts, rather than changing the topic altogether. We believe that the use of these spontaneous elicitations is beneficial to children’s math learning.

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