Four students present research at SEPA meeting

Four students present research at SEPA meeting

April 18, 2016

Four students from Maryville College’s Behavioral Sciences Division recently traveled to New Orleans, La., to present their research at the 62nd annual Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA) meeting.

Dr. Lori Schmied, professor of psychology and coordinator of neurosciences, and Dr. Chad Schrock, associate professor of psychology, accompanied their advisees to the meeting.

“This was a great opportunity for our students to present outstanding senior projects to a larger audience,” Schrock said. “SEPA is a competitive conference, so having all of our students who submitted this year accepted for presentation was gratifying.

“Our students had the opportunity to get feedback from other attendees from all over the Southeast, as well as exposure to a wide array of research in their areas of interest,” the professor added. “Conferences can be a great place to network, particularly for these students who are interested in continuing to graduate and professional training.”

Psychology major Kayti Mitchell ’16 presented in the single, inaugural paper session for undergraduate student research. Mitchell’s paper, taken from her Senior Study and titled “Bilingual and Monolingual Performances on an Attentional Blink Test:  Working Memory Effect,” was a runner-up for the Undergraduate Research Oral Presentation award by CEPO/Psi Chi, which sponsors the undergraduate research poster and paper sessions.

Schrock said he believes Mitchell’s project was selected because it was one of the few experimental cognitive psychology projects submitted by an undergraduate student.

“Kayti’s project also had broad appeal; it was relevant to people interested in memory, language processing and bilingualism,” he explained. “The program referees really lucked into choosing Kayti for the inaugural session – she’s a great speaker and really captured the audience’s attention. She did an excellent job explaining the applicability of her results to real-world situations.”

Three present posters

Three students presented posters at the annual meeting.

Sharing findings from research completed for her Senior Study, Blaine Coyle ’16, a senior neuroscience/psychology major from Knoxville, Tenn., presented the poster “Listen Up:  Memory for Emotion Terms Varies By Ear In The Dichotic Listening Task.”

Senior neuroscience/psychology major Eric Russell ’16 of Sevierville, Tenn., also presented his Senior Study, “Effects of Low Intensity Exercise on Physiological Arousal and Cognition,” during the poster session.

Psychology major Natalie Stanley ’16 of Houston, Tex., presented a poster titled “Effects of Person and Organization Collectivist Orientation.”

(The studies of all three of these students have since been deemed “exemplary” by the division and will be added to the College’s library collection.)

Senior Study helps prepares students

Schrock said that because of the College’s Senior Study requirement, the quality of research conducted by Maryville College students is high.

One of the distinctive features of a Maryville education, the Senior Study requirement calls for students to complete a two-semester research and writing project that is supervised by a faculty member. According to the College’s catalog, the Senior Study program “facilitates the scholarship of discovery within the major field and integrates those methods with the educational goals fostered through the Maryville Curriculum.”

“Maryville College students do well at conferences like this because they have put the time and commitment into these projects to develop a greater level of expertise than is typical for students at their level,” Schrock said. “The Senior Study gives students a year to pursue an idea – that starts with an intensive literature review to develop expertise, and from that initial step, students then develop a research question and empirical methods.”

He said the Maryville College students were surprised at how many of the other student presentations at the conference were derivations of their faculty supervisors’ existing work.

“We encourage our students to develop a Senior Study that will serve their longer term interests, and that was very apparent in the group that presented. Natalie Stanley, for example, is interested in applying psychology in the workplace, a field called industrial/organizational psychology. For her Senior Study, she investigated how employees respond to different types of corporate cultures by collecting data from more than 200 employees from all across the United States. She’s also currently doing an internship at Blackberry Farm, so she’s an example of a student who is taking advantage of the opportunities to tailor her educational experience toward long-term goals.”

Two will present again

Both Mitchell and Coyle will present their research April 22 as a part of the College’s Undergraduate Research Symposium. From 2 until 4 p.m., the Behavioral Sciences Division will celebrate the work of five students in Anderson Hall, classroom 220.

The public is invited to attend.


Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the Fall 2017 semester is 1,181.