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Students Present at Professional Behavioral Sciences Conference

posted Apr 27, 2012 in ACADEMICS

Three McPherson College seniors in behavioral sciences presented along with graduate students and professionals at the 75th annual Midwest Sociological Society Meeting in Minneapolis, Minn.

Janie Gunther, Scott City, Kan.; Amy Mast, Hesston, Kan.; and Julie Escobar, Brush, Colo., were some of the few undergraduates presenting at the conference, and some people who saw them present reacted with surprise when they learned this. At the conference, these three were presenting on a high level, with professionals and graduate students as peers. Their work was given the same level of scrutiny and peer review as professionals who have been in the field for years.

“It’s a huge honor,” Gunther said. “It’s a professional conference and our audience consisted of professionals in the field. As undergrads, we got a preview of what would be expected in graduate school.”

Gunther studied child development in a way that was age-neutral. She tried to train an accomplishment that’s said to occur in only a certain period of life before that time. For example, she tried to train self-recognition in a mirror to children younger than two years old.

Mast conducted research with 50 participants – half men, half women and including seven left-handed people – to see whether handwriting has a correlation with personality. She and another analyzer looked at handwriting samples for various elements such as pressure, size, slant and connectedness as well as giving a personality test to the participants. She did find a significant correlation between handwriting and personality and concluded that personality was one variable among many in handwriting. Handwriting analysis is a tool useful in areas such as criminal justice.

Escobar reviewed literature on the effect of bullying on children. Following this extensive research, Escobar plans to study college students who were bullied as children and its effects on quality of life later in life. She expects to find that those who were bullied as children have a lower quality of life, even in college. She also expects to find it has different effects on men and women. She hopes that the research will help with prevention of bullying and coping after it happens.

Dr. Laura Workman Eells, associate professor of sociology, accompanied the three to the conference, in addition to her duties as a member of the society’s board.

“All three of these accomplished young women served as excellent representatives of McPherson College,” Dr. Workman Eells said. “We hope to have students prepared to present at next year’s meetings in Chicago as well.”

Mast said that to successfully present to professionals, it took the help of the behavioral sciences professors to succeed.

“They were there every step of the way,” she said. “Any question you had, they were there.”

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