Student Profile: Samantha Angell ’14

During a summer at the Center for the Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL), at the University of Virginia, Samantha Angell ’14 of Watertown, Wis., discovered that teachers who use a lot of work-related words when talking in the classroom are neither enjoying their work nor liking making connections with their students. “They aren’t as good of a teacher, or at least not teaching as effectively as they could be,” she says.

Angell participates in Ripon College’s Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, which helps prepare first-generation, low-income and racially underrepresented students for graduate school and the attainment of doctorate degrees. She is majoring in psychology and sociology with a minor in Spanish.

Her summer research consisted of looking at the types of words teachers use and how they relate to their effectiveness in the classroom. She said, “I had a sample of about 85 preschool teachers who answered the question, ‘What is your role in the classroom?’” Angell ran the responses through a computer program that broke the paragraphs down into types of words used. These words then were divided in categories such as positive emotion words, social words, body words, negative emotion words, and many more.

“Teachers also submitted videos of themselves teaching in the classroom, which were scored with the Classroom Assessment Scoring System, or CLASS,” Angell says. “Basically, CLASS gives a rating of how good the teacher is. I hypothesized that teachers who used lots of words from the positive emotion and social words categories in their writing would have higher CLASS scores.”

Angell chose this topic for her research because the department she was working in had just gotten the word count computer software. “So I picked a topic where I could both use the new software and work with the data (the CLASS scores and writing samples).”

While Angell’s findings did not support her original hypothesis, she did discover that teachers who tend to use a lot of words from the “work words” category of the computer software in their writing are more likely to have lower CLASS scores than teachers who do not use those words.

There are several avenues Angell is exploring for graduate work. She is applying to clinical psychology programs at the University of Virginia, University of Tennessee, University of Rochester in New York, University of Delaware, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; school psychology programs at Northern Illinois University, the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and Loyola University; and a marriage and family therapy program at the University of Connecticut.

-Tsering Yangchen ’14
Madison, Wis.

Click here to read about more Ripon College students in the news.

Click here to learn more about the McNair Scholars Program at Ripon College.