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McKay School undergraduate and graduate students have an opportunity to engage in research, to be mentored by a faculty member, and to present their findings in a professional setting at the annual McKay School Mentored Research Conference. At this conference, held at the end of winter semester, each student-faculty team displays a poster outlining their research in succinct ways that can be quickly and easily understood. As attendees show interest, the researchers are able to present and explain their information orally and to answer questions.

Eli Jones

A faculty member may invite a student or group of students to work on a research project, or the student(s) may ask to join in a professor’s research.

Eli Jones, winner of the graduate award in 2015, had two mentors for his project: Richard Sudweeks and Richard Young. Jones asked Sudweeks to chair his dissertation committee, and Sudweeks became his mentor. “He was a logical choice because I doubt there is anyone in the McKay School with more knowledge of statistical methods than he,” said Jones.

Because of Jones’ background in K–12 education and his interest in struggling readers, he asked Richard Young to act as an additional mentor. Young taught him how to run a well-designed research project. “He also helped me remember that the purpose of educational research is to make us as educators better able to teach, support, build, and inspire students,” Jones recalled.

“My mentors taught me how to work in a meticulous and deliberate way, ensuring that my research was appropriately designed and cleanly executed. They were a huge resource for me, and I couldn’t have succeeded without them. They helped me successfully navigate where educational research meets the real world,” Jones explained.

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Preparing a research poster for the conference helped Jones synthesize his research in ways that made it easy to understand. He added, “You’ll learn valuable lessons about how to improve your research. Presenting at the conference really was a confidence booster in my ability to talk about research in a professional setting.” He recommends the Mentoring Research Conference to all students.

Participation in the conference has increased every year since its inception in 2006. Last year 127 students, 44 MSE faculty, and 26 additional faculty presented. Research topics included adapting speech, developing second-language learning models in different languages, preventing suicide, counseling, understanding and applying instructional design, dealing with problem behavior, teaching collaboration, evaluating, and recruiting and retaining teachers.

The public is invited to attend the next McKay School Mentored Research Conference, which will be held April 5, 2016, in the Wilkinson Center Ballroom.