This year Newman University had five students take their psychology research projects to the Southwestern Psychological Association (SWPA) conference. This was the first time Newman had research presented at this conference.
Dr. James Nolan was the professor leading this venture. Nolan has taken 12 groups to large research conferences in the past, but this was his first time with Newman students and his first time at this particular conference. The conference was held April 10-12 at the Hyatt Regency in Wichita, Kan. Students presented their research in the form of a poster with their findings and discussed what they found with peers and professors from schools all over the southwest. The SWPA consists of nine states in the southwestern region of the United States.
This school year was Nolan’s first year at Newman and he wanted to start a research lab that would present students with opportunities they might not have had in the past. “I have always wanted to bring that experience to the students that I work with,” Nolan said. “I have always wanted to work in a lab-based research program that helps prepare students for graduate school. Graduate school isn’t for everyone, but I like working with students who have that as their goal.”
The projects began in the fall of 2014 and were presented this April. Each project had a primary investigator leading the project with a research assistant helping along the way. Each student agreed that the project was one of the best parts about their education at Newman.
The projects were “frustrating, frustrating but rewarding,” said Lucia Kuwawa.
“I’ve learned way more in the past year than I have my entire time here,” Tori Provencio said.
“Everything I have learned at Newman came together in this one class in this one project,” Austin Solis said.
“It was the most rewarding work I’ve done in my college career,” added Ethan Young.
Some schools took over 20 students, and the conference included students from large state schools and other smaller schools.
“It was intimidating going in, but once you get up there you see that your poster and your findings are just as good and just as meaningful as theirs, and you gain confidence as people come up to you telling you your project is better than the one from another school,” Solis said.
The students and their professor believe they were just as prepared and matched up against some of the larger schools who had been there before.
“Our students from Newman did an outstanding job and were on par with other students at the undergraduate level who are carrying out meaningful research projects,” Nolan said. “We had some really interesting projects that received a lot of attention from conference attendees. Our students projects were presented alongside projects from some very large schools and our projects were, in my opinion, of equal quality and rigor at a minimum.”
All of the students strongly believe that Newman should start a research lab for psychology and continue to send students to large conferences. They all believe it is essential to help them get into graduate school and has a big impact on the learning experience at this level.
View the gallery of images from the convention below:
For more information about Newman’s Psychology Department click HERE.
For more information about the SWPA click HERE.
For more information about the students projects and to hear more about the conference view the videos below.