Symposium spotlights student research
Nearly 150 students participated in 101 oral and poster presentations May 15 at North Central’s 15th Annual Rall Symposium for Undergraduate Research. From first-year freshmen to graduating seniors, the presentations reflected the majors and interests of the NCC student body.
History and political science major David DePino, ’13, was one of many students who gave an oral presentation at the Symposium.
His presentation, “Dance Monsters Dance: The Empowerment Anthem of Lady Gaga as Feminist Rhetoric,” focused on the pop star’s empowerment toward “the gay community and how they view themselves as outcasts,” Depino said.
DePino began his presentation by playing “Hair,” “Born This Way,” and “Edge of Glory,” three songs from Lady Gaga’s most recent album. He then went through the lyrics of each song and explained how they related to rhetorical criticism, a technique he used to analyze the arguments in the lyrics.
“I thought it fit the CD really well and that I could draw some really fun conclusions from that analysis with this particular method,” DePino said. “It was a lot of fun.”
Psychology major Jennifer Cook, ’12, prepared a poster presentation titled, “A Prevention Program to Improve Coping Skills and Bullying Behaviors.” “I was working with Professor Schacht, and we wanted to look at the length between bullying behaviors in elementary children,” Cook said. “We wanted to find the degree of severity of children’s perceptions of conflict and their behavioral outcomes at school.”
Close to 400 elementary school children from Naperville and central Illinois school districts were asked to fill out surveys with basic “yes or no” and “true or false” questions about their families.
“I learned the effect that parenting has on children is far greater than I ever thought it would be,” Cook said. “Not many undergraduates get to have the opportunity to work on research with other professors. If I knew it was a possibility, I would have asked sooner.”
The poster presentation, “America’s Play Deficit: Facing the Realities of an America Without Playgrounds” by Cody Follis, ’13, brought awareness to the lack of playgrounds in the United States, particularly in Chicago.
“Playgrounds have been shown to help development for children,” Follis said. “They can learn to adapt and cooperate with each other, and it helps with imagination in general.” Follis’ presentation stemmed from a speech he wrote for NCC’s speech team.
Follis learned there are only 1.8 playgrounds for every 10,000 people in Chicago. “It’s very much the southern portions of Chicago where there are higher crime rates and lower socioeconomic statuses that aren’t being provided with these spaces,” Follis said.
“It was a very cool experience, and it was very interesting because I was expecting that there would be problems with Chicago and playgrounds,” Follis said. “People definitely need to seize the opportunity (to present at Rall).” Follis is planning to participate in the Symposium again next year.
Sandra Chapman, assistant to the director of the Office of Academic Opportunities, was very impressed by this year’s Rall Symposium presentations. “A lot of these students are doing what I would call graduate research as undergrads,” she said. “NCC has a lot to be proud of, and students should be proud of the work they’ve done.”
Chapman encourages students who have never participated in the Rall Symposium before to contact a faculty member about a project idea so they can get involved with future events. “They’re going to have a tremendous story to tell in their resume that other students won’t have,” Chapman said.