My experience as an Honors Scholar was critical to my development as a researcher and a professional in the field of speech-language pathology. As I finished the summer portion of my experience and began my senior year, I transitioned into a new season of the Honors Scholar experience. With a full-course load, my research hours dropped considerably when I returned to campus. In the fall semester, my goals were to complete the analysis of the quantitative and qualitative data and to complete my poster. This spring semester has been dedicated to presentations and writing up my final Capstone paper.
Throughout my entire experience as an honors scholar, my most significant experience has been the opportunity to present my project on three different occasions. My first presentation was at the annual convention for the Illinois Speech-Language-Hearing Association in Rosemont, IL. The convention committee has dedicated the Friday of the convention as “student day”, which gives students the opportunity to attend the conference and present their projects in an open-floor poster format. Being that this was the first time I presented research, I was really nervous to do so. Dr. Tattersall was reassuring, and when it came time to present, I was surprised at how quickly the two hours passed by. This presentation time not only gave me the opportunity to practice my oral presentation skills, but also to interact with professionals in the field who are interested in children’s awareness of language. The other two opportunities to present my project will be through on-campus events in the end of April. The first is Undergraduate Research and Artistry Day, and the second is the Allied Health and Communicative Disorders Research Day.
Going into this project, I had very few expectations because it was my first time doing research. As I spent more and more time diving into articles on the topic, I was surprised at how much I didn’t understand about morphological awareness. Overall, the project went as planned, except that I ultimately divided our participants into two ability groups as opposed to the original four groups that we intended to have.
The project revealed that student performance on the written and oral probe by students with LLD and those in RtI had a strong, positive correlation, which suggests that such students can be assessed for morphological awareness in either modality. Further, our spelling tests revealed similar patterns of spelling errors among children across both ability groups; however, one notable distinction between the two groups was that the children with LLD and those in RtI appeared to struggle more than their peers in generalizing their morphological awareness to the spelling of the nonwords on our written probe. This suggests the importance of explicit morphological awareness instruction to ensure that students can correctly attach morphemes to unfamiliar targets.
Overall, I would describe the Honors Scholar Program as a unique and valuable opportunity. A huge thanks to the Lord, the University Honors Program, and Dr. Tattersall for this experience!