Wrapping Up: The Last Week

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Welcome back!

Thanks for reading up until this point. The past two months have been a wonderful, informational experience and I’d like to share a few things as I reflect upon my summer as a McKearn Fellow. We’ve been asked to consider a few adjectives as we write about this experience.

  • Challenging: This research program has taught me something important for life – time management. It is has been quite difficult to balance aspects of my project, lab hour requirements, studying for the GRE, preparing for graduate school applications, and personal time. It has been essential to take time to reflect, rewind, and relax this summer given we have been very busy working on our professional development, civic engagement, and research skills.
  • Exciting: I have been very excited to see my project be complete! As weeks flew by, I become more and more eager to have results and complete the project. Also, some certain events were exciting throughout the program. Some of these included meeting with established NIU donors and alumni, attending NIU Night at US Cellular Field, and attending etiquette training in Chicago.
  • Daunting: At first, the idea of completing a simple Honor’s Thesis in eight weeks was daunting to me. As I went through each week, the list of things to complete ended up being less and less demanding. Coupled with my time management skills, the whole project was able to be done without immense amount of stress.
  • Inspiring/Rewarding: At each step of the way, something has been inspiring or rewarding. Even if it was a simple ‘Nice job!’ on a draft submission or envisioning the completion of my project, I felt inspired each week. My mentor and the graduate students provided me with positive and constructive feedback, as well as the McKearn team and my partner Ashley! My appreciation goes to all the individuals who have looked at my work along the way.

The research skills I have developed and refined this summer will help me with GraduateSchool in the field of Psychology, and potentially my career later in life. I have learned what it takes to write and conduct an Honors Thesis project, and experienced a bit of what GraduateSchool will be like. The single, most important thing I am taking away from my experience as a McKearn Fellow is that time management and priorities allow an individual to complete anything you set your mind to. Budgeting time and setting goals are excellent ways to accomplish all necessary tasks for the job.

It has been a wonderful eight weeks, and I can’t wait to present my research on Thursday. I look forward to see the development of the program in coming years, and share my experiences. I have learned a lot, developed skills, and created memories I will cherish for life. I want to thank all those who have helped me, listened to me, gave me advice, and inspired me to push on.

If you’re interested in following my project from start to finish, take a look at my E-Portfolio at https://sites.google.com/a/students.niu.edu/boddy_le_mckearn/!

Thanks for reading!

-LB-

Project Reflection (Week 7!)

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Greetings!

As time is running short, it is now time to reflect on how things are going with my project. So far, I have encountered a few challenges but nothing a McKearn Fellow can’t handle. My biggest enemy is balancing time between writing drafts, addressing comments, keeping up with data collection, and preparing for Graduate School applications in the fall. It is a blessing to work with a few individuals regarding peer/mentor review on my work, but it is also a challenge to address all the comments in a manner that betters my project. I find it difficult to balance content/discipline comments with flow/grammar edits from time to time! Given my project is a very novel idea, it has also been difficult to find empirical support for background information.

Needless to say, I have dealt with the above challenges in a few ways. At first, I reverted to my ways of creating ‘to-do’ lists. But, that didn’t work because I never consolidated tasks to complete on a single piece of paper. I seemed to end up with lists on multiple pieces of paper and note cards, and I couldn’t keep track of them all!  I found that the best way to deal with time-balancing is to budget all my working hours in my day so I could be as productive as possible. As for comments and finding sources to back up my project, I have been successful by evaluating each comment, regardless if it was grammar or content-based, and addressing it so that each edit was accounted for. My sources of help, regarding  the project, have been wonderful (the ERT Lab grad students, my mentor, and the McKearn Team!) too. Lastly, I have been able to overcome challenges by taking some ‘ME’ time. I enjoy spending time with my McKearn Fellows, as well as other SROP and REU students, my family, and friends. Might I add that the Student Recreation Center around 7am is a great place to de-stress and reflect! Challenges and obstacles become much easier when you remind yourself that it will all get done.

Finally, I would like to add some comments on where I think I am at in my project. By far, I am most proud of my idea. Not  many studies have looked at sleep behavior at such a young age (18 month old children in my case!), or looked at multiple predictors of problematic sleep in early childhood. I am a tad apprehensive about getting the whole thing done. It is not necessarily easy to write and present a mini Honors thesis in 7-8 weeks! As of today (July 25th), I need to complete my reference list, create my symposium presentation, and polish everything up! Over the past six weeks, I have learned two important things:

  1. Take one step at a time. The small wins need celebrating (Thanks to Dino Martinez!).
  2. There is always some time to reflect, laugh a little, and de-stress!

Thanks for reading everyone!

-LB-

The Leadership Challenge

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Welcome back!

This week I would like to talk about the book the Leadership Challenge and one of the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership. Personally, the most difficult to enact upon and incorporate in my life has been number three: Challenge the Process. Challenging the process involves changing the status quo and working to improve an organization by taking risks. Currently, I serve as a leader for two differing organizations, but I have not been able to take advantage of many opportunities to challenge the process simply because these situations have not arisen.

With that said, this past week the McKearn Summer Fellows program hosted Dino Martinez for a two-part leadership academy. We learned all about the Five Practices, and I came to realize I need to work on seeking out opportunities to challenge the process. Being a leader  in my undergraduate career and going through this program thus far, I understand that leadership is not just about taking advantage of opportunities but it is also about creating these opportunities. Through our excursions and workshops, we have developed a leadership statement and have been able to interact with successful leaders in the real world (life after college!). For these opportunities, I am very grateful and hope to continue growing as a leader each and every day.

Thanks for reading!

-LB-

Laredo Taft Retreat Reflection

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This past weekend, all 30+ summer research students went to Laredo Taft in Oregon, Illinois for a workshop/leadership weekend. It was relaxing, stimulating, and fun all at once! Besides sleeping on bunk beds and eating copious amounts of home-cooked food, we attended three workshops, played some games as a group, and hiked at White Pines State Park. The most significant opportunity I had this weekend was the free time between meals, activities, and workshops. Even though it was only half an hour here or 45 minutes there, I thoroughly enjoyed my time sitting amongst nature and reflecting upon the past four weeks of the summer. I was able to study for the GRE a tad, listen to relaxing music, and appreciate the time to unwind. The retreat at Laredo Taft forced me to stop and realize leaders have to take time to unwind too. We can’t always be going, going, going. It is necessary to take time to relax, reflect, and recharge. Given the many commitments of an involved undergraduate student, it is often difficult to take a step back and realize mental health is crucial for day-to-day satisfaction. Therefore, I am thankful for the opportunity to go away for the weekend and unwind. It was great interacting with staff at the Taft Campus, REU and Summer Research Opportunities Program students, as well as members of the McKearn Team (Dr. Changnon, Kim, Shannon, and Stephen!). I hope that my McKearn peers were able to take away something significant from this weekend (not mosquito bites though!), and that we all stay positive for the remainder of the program.

Until next time,

-LB-

A Little About my Project!

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Welcome back!

My project is all about the development of sleep behavior in young children. (Click the picture to find out more!)

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I have done an extensive literature search and found that sleep is important for many aspects of life (such as body mass index/weight, anxiety and depression, and quality of life). Predictors of sleep behavior have been explored in adolescents and adults, but not much exists for very young children. Therefore, my project aims to examine how infant characteristics (e.g., temperament) and maternal parenting behaviors influence sleep problems in 18 month old children. The topic of my project is very relevant to society in that most individuals know or interact with children on a weekly or monthly basis, and sleep is important for development. Therefore, my project is instrumental in understanding factors for sleep problems in young children.

An article I am choosing to include in my introduction is about parental characteristics and home environment factors influencing children’s sleep patterns early in life. This article was published in 2012 in the 26th volume of the Journal of Family Psychology. In terms of strengths, this article provides evidence that marital hostility and hostile parenting influence children’s sleep behavior which is related to my topic. The results of this study show that maternal marital hostility at nine months of age is predictive of sleep patterns at four-and-a-half years of age.

Another strength of the article is that fathers are included in the sample, which is hard to do given mothers are typically the primary caregiver for children. Results indicated that paternal martial hostility at nine months is indirectly related to children’s sleep problems through hostile parenting at 27 months of age. Given the negative consequences of marital hostility on children’s sleep problems, this article provides evidence that I should control for dyadic adjustment (i.e., relationship satisfaction) to ensure the influence of relationship problems is not included in the analyses. This article also uses a sample of adopted children, including the birth and adoptive parents. Lastly, the authors used multiple forms of data collection (video-taped interaction and questionnaires). The only weakness of the article I could think of is that questionnaire data was collected, leaving room for response error by the parents. All in all, this article provides vital information for the control variables in my study.

In case you would like to read the article, here is the citation for it.

Rhoades, K. A., Leve, L. D., Harold, G. T., Mannering, A. M., Neiderhiser, J. M., Shaw, D. S., Natsuaki, M. N., & Reiss, D. (2012). Marital hostility and child sleep problems: Direct and indirect associations via hostile parenting. Journal of Family Psychology, 26(4), 488-498. doi: 10.1037/a0029164

Thanks for reading!

-LB-

Ethics

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APA

If you asked one hundred people what their definition of ethics is, my guess is that each person would respond slightly different. As you may know, it is difficult to pin down the definition for “ethics.” Personally, I consider ethics as standards for right and wrong in various aspects of human life. Ethics can guide how we behave, how we treat others, what we judge as fair, and how we view societal norms compared to our own behavior.

In the field of Psychology, ethical research is crucial, regardless of working with humans or animals. Psychological science is guided by the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards put out by the American Psychological Association (http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/index.aspx). Each researcher is guided by general principles, and must obey key values such as integrity, confidentiality, privacy, and justice. In order to abide regulations, each individual involved in human subjects research must complete rigorous ethical training prior to any interaction with human subjects.

During the past week of the McKearn program, we discussed ethics and how it applies to our major and project. In order to sustain ethical research for my project, I have completed the required training course and will obey confidentiality rules to ensure no participant is identified. Additionally, I have learned ethical processes involved with human subjects research through my undergraduate career and from my experienced research mentors.

In the coming years, I plan to attend graduate school and conduct research as part of my pursuit for a Doctoral degree. I will take my ethical training with me, and continue to carry out research in my professional career. It is a privilege to work with human subjects, and out of respect for these individuals it is my responsibility to act ethically and morally.

Thanks for reading!

-LB-

Etiquette Training Luncheon with NIU Alumni

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As one of ten students from a prestigious summer program, what better to learn than business etiquette for luncheons, dinners, business meetings, and cocktail receptions? The training we went through this week was helpful, informative, exciting, and nerve-wracking all at once! Would I go back and remove this from my summer experiences? Heck no!

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Throughout the session on professional dress and behavior, I felt very comfortable and informed on the topic. I learned quite a bit from Liz Bockman, our Etiquette Trainer, on appropriate dress, networking, etc. As time ran out for our informational meeting, I began to feel nervous about the luncheon with successful NIU Alumni that was to follow. “Am I going to stutter?,” “Am I dressed appropriately?,” “I hope my hands aren’t sweaty!” were all thoughts bouncing around in my head at that point. As I entered the formal dining room, I could not help but notice the beautiful view of Lake Michigan from the windows. After introducing myself to the esteemed guests, I knew the hard part was to follow. “What am I going to say if the Alumni ask me a question when I have food in my mouth?,” I asked myself. Though, my nerves were calmed when our Etiquette Trainer informed us all that she was going to help us navigate the dining set as we ate.

The tips, tricks, and rules of business meetings I learned during this day downtown will forever assist me with aspects of my student and professional career. More importantly, I was able to retain and utilize the tools I learned while networking and communicating with three successful NIU Alumni: Howard Blietz, Joseph Matty, and Dave Hewson. Undoubtedly, I am grateful for the experience the Alumni were able to provide me with. I must thank the McKearn Team (Julia Spears, Stephanie, Zobac, and Kimberly Volmer) for attending the training with us and providing us with such a unique, but beneficial opportunity. Each guest made the atmosphere comfortable, and as I left the Mid America Club Chicago I knew that someday I would enjoy being as successful as the individuals I just shared a meal with.  I am very excited to use these leadership skills and techniques in my upcoming pursuit of Graduate School, and eventually a professional career in the field of Psychology. Thanks to the relaxed atmosphere the guests created, the luncheon was quite an enjoyable and informational experience.

Until next time,

-LB-