News and Tribune

Education/Schools

April 26, 2014

IUS hosts Student Conference and Showcase

NEW ALBANY —  Though the idea of involving students in academic research goes back further for IU Southeast, the university’s 10th annual Student Conference and Showcase brought the pairing to the forefront on Friday.

About 250 undergraduate students presented their graduate-level research projects to the campus. Diane Wille, psychology professor and chair of the event’s planning committee, said giving students a chance to perform this kind of research alongside faculty is a good segue into their next endeavor.

“What the research projects do is develop those skills they’re getting and take them to a higher level,” Wille said. “Employers will get someone who’s going the extra mile and that means they’ll be a highly motivated employee.”

She said for about 25 years, faculty have involved students in research to give them some real experience in academia, but also because it’s fun for them to watch students discover something new.

“Research can be thought of as being very esoteric and it’s also applied,” Wille said. “But that one on one interaction with students is one of the great things about IU Southeast.”

Projects in nursing, education, computer sciences and social sciences were presented by their researchers. Zack Novello, a senior at IU Southeast, made his project on motivation and alcohol use in fraternities. He said he hopes his project will show his abilities as a researcher as he pursues a career in psychology.

“The subject has to do with what I want to do professionally,” Novello said. “I want to be a substance abuse counselor. But on the other side, it looks good on a resume and it’s interesting.”

Ray Wallace, the incoming full-time chancellor for IU Southeast, talked with students about their projects. He said he was involved in creating a similar conference at his current university, the University of Arkansas Fort Smith. He said it’s good to see his new home fosters the same kind of program.

“To come here and see the quality and caliber of their research is very reassuring,” Wallace said. “I’m pleased to see this. The school is well known for its student-faculty interaction and this is just proof-positive that it’s not just [public relations].”

Wille said giving students the chance to tackle big projects like these on top of their undergraduate work isn’t just good for their skillset, but also their own confidence in going to graduate school or entering the workforce.

“What’s particularly nice about the conference is that students leave knowing what they’re capable of, and they’re capable of high-level work,” Wille said.

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