RC Junior is “Developing a Measure of Climate for Learning”

by roanokecollege on October 15, 2012

Jennie BlaneyJennie Blaney (junior) presented her Summer Scholars research topic, “Developing a Measure of Climate for Learning: An Ongoing Process Informing Change”, at the RC Family Weekend Showcase of Research & Creativity. Jennie has been involved with research since her freshman year. Jennie is a music major and became interested in research opportunities after taking an INQ class with Dr. Julie Lyon. “Dr. Lyon is really great because she gives great guidance, but also lets me figure things out for myself. She has been a wonderful teacher and mentor and I’m very thankful that I get to work with her.” says Jennie of her experience with Dr. Lyon. Dr. Lyon mentions that “Working with students like Jennie is one of the reasons I came to Roanoke College. I relish the one-on-one working relationships I have with my research assistants. Jennie and I have been working together for three years now, and I feel lucky to have had a chance to work with a student with so much passion for research.”

Jennie’s research was directly focused on the climate for learning right here at Roanoke College where interviews and focus groups (one of which I participated in!) were conducted with various faculty and students. The data from focus groups and interviews were themed and then put into categories. Some of the most common themes were “student-faculty relationships, division among students, teaching to the bottom, and emphasis on social life”. All of the themes fell into one of the following categories: climate for learning within general education, climate for learning within major/department, climate for learning among peers/around campus, or climate for learning from administration.

Since becoming involved with research at RC, Jennie has decided to go on to graduate school to further pursue her research interests. “My research interests have evolved a lot over the past 2 years. Recently, I have been able to really narrow my research interests and align what I want to do with what Dr. Lyon does. After exploring numerous different research projects, I feel pretty confident that I want to continue studying the climate and culture of education institutions throughout my time at Roanoke and into grad school.” explains Jennie.

As for presenting at the Family Weekend Showcase, Jennie states that “I always learn a lot from presenting my research. I am a very detail oriented person, so presenting provides an opportunity for me to take a step back and remind myself of the big picture. Also, I care a lot about the work that I do so it’s nice to share it with people.”

Jennie encourages incoming freshman considering research to “get involved even if they aren’t sure what they want to do. In my case, I thought I was sure of what I wanted to do, but doing research has completely changed my whole perspective. My research has taught me a lot about myself and my interests and I am very thankful for that.”

Dr. Lyon also points out that “Every student should volunteer to work on research with a faculty member at some point in his or her college career—and the earlier the better. If you start now, you will have a really sophisticated set of research experiences by the time you graduate. Research is good whether you plan to work immediately or head on to graduate school.”

For more information on faculty research interests, and to see where your interests might match, go to: https://roanoke.edu/Academics/Learning_Firsthand/Research/Faculty_Research.htm

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