Samantha is a senior psychology and sociology major from Watertown, WI. She is conducting research this summer in the Educational Psychology Department at the University of Virginia as part of her involvement with the McNair Scholars Program. She is one of four Ripon College students sharing their stories of research internships and jobs over the course of this summer.
Today marks the first day of my fourth week in Charlottesville! I cannot believe that my time here is almost halfway over.
The past couple days I’ve really started in on my own personal research project. If you will remember, I am working under Dr. LoCasale-Crouch on professional development for teachers. However at the same time, all the interns are taking whatever data they find most interesting from the larger projects to answer a smaller question. For my own project, I will be using a relatively new computer program called Linguistic Inquiry Word Count (or LIWC) to see if teachers who are more positive about teaching and more child-centered write differently than those who aren’t!
LIWC has a dictionary full of thousands of words separated into categories such as positive emotions, family words, possessive words, etc. and will tell you what sort of words the writer of a paragraph tends to use most. Hopefully I will find that teachers who are more positive will write with more positive words when asked about their classrooms!
On the entertainment front, the rest of the interns and I traveled to Monticello this weekend, the home of President Thomas Jefferson. Although we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the house, I can tell you several interesting facts about what we found inside!
1) TJ’s bed was located in between two rooms. There was a hole in the wall where his original bed rested, so that when he woke up in the morning he could either roll into his office or into his bedroom!
2) Jefferson was a lover of inventions, so he had crazy gadgets all over the house. In the dining room fireplace there was a pulley system installed for the sole purpose of bringing bottles of wine up from the basement.
3) The front parlor of Monticello was decorated with tons of Native American artifacts, because Jefferson wanted anyone that came to his home to learn something.
I myself am learning a lot while I’m down in Virginia, whether it’s in the lab or out on the town! If you also want to learn more about the same things I am, check out the websites www.monticello.org and www.liwc.net/index/php.