Students Raise the Bar at Annual Research Conference

For the seventh consecutive year, the Curry School of Education hosted its annual Curry Research Conference (CRC). The entirely student-run conference is an opportunity for students to present research to and receive feedback from fellow students and faculty. Participants are also allowed the opportunity to hear from preeminent education scholars.

“At its core, the Curry Research Conference offers students an opportunity to develop their skills in presenting their research,” said Catherine Bradshaw, associate dean for research at the Curry School of Education.  “Students also gain visibility for their own research and get experience discussing research, which will benefit them in both the near- and long-term.”

The full-day event is led by co-chairs Wendy Rodgers, a doctoral student in special education, and Jillian McGraw, a doctoral student in the curriculum and instruction program. For both Rodgers and McGraw, creating an opportunity for students from all over the Curry School to connect has been a driving force behind their work on the conference.

“The CRC provides students a unique opportunity for students to come together across programs to share their work, exchange ideas, and support the work of their peers,” McGraw said.

The Curry School has more than 20 academic program areas. And while each is unique, often student or faculty research in one has significant connections and implications for work being conducted in another.

“This is a place for Curry students to make connections with other students and professors who have similar research interests but who might be in different programs,” Rogers said.

Attendees had the opportunity to hear from a large number of students. Fifteen students presented their research during the morning poster session and 22 more students in the afternoon.  Twenty-five more students offered oral presentations on their research throughout the day.

A committee of a dozen faculty members spent the day evaluating each research poster and oral presentation to name the top presentations of the day. The participants also voted two People’s Choice winners.

“We had so many great projects presented at the paper and poster sessions that covered a wide range of topics including issues surrounding equity and access, education policy, student learning, and health and wellness,” Rogers said.

In between the presentation sessions was a keynote address by Elise Cappella, associate professor of applied psychology at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. Capella’s lecture focused on aligning mental health goals with academic learning goals.

“The last few years, Curry has continued its conversation around providing access to learning and supporting growth for all students, and her presentation provided another valuable lens through which to engage with this topic,” McGraw said.

In the afternoon, members of the Curry School faculty joined students to present a series of workshops on topics from grant writing to design thinking to research and practice advancing equity and justice.

The conference ended with a community reception and awards presentation.

Emily Barton, a doctoral student in instructional technology, won first prize in the poster session for her research on the MyTeachingPartner – Math/Science project. The undergraduate award went to Speech Pathology and Audiology major Ana Mendelson who created the Autism Theatre Project, an organization aiming to make live performances accessible to children with autism.

The morning session’s People’s Choice winner was Jacob Bennett, a curriculum and instruction doctoral student, who presented on his research of how white privilege has been researched in teacher education. Andrew Frankel, a first year Ph.D. student in social foundations, was named the afternoon session’s People’s Choice winner for his research on Tibetan education systems.

In addition to the knowledge and skills gained by those participating in the conference, there are many skills learned in the planning of the conference, as well.  McGraw and Rogers led a steering committee comprised of 11 additional students, each of whom played a critical role in the conference planning, from the call for proposals to moderating presentations.

“The conference provides opportunities for students from multiple disciplines to collaborate in launching a research event which has such a significant impact on the school and beyond,” said Bradshaw.