Research Assistantships: A Student Perspective

Last month, we brought you a new feature with our first “Student Perspective” interview.  This month, we bring you our second installment with Brittany Broder, a senior Psychology major and Human Biology minor who is serving in her second semester as a Research Assistant.

1. Who are you working with for your research assistantship (RA)?

Dr. Kate Burns

2. How did you find out about the RA and go about getting it?

I heard a lot of my classmates talking about doing research with different professors, and I thought it sounded pretty neat. Then not too long later Dr. Burns approached me about doing research, and I agreed very quickly.

3. What kinds of things do you get to do for your RA?

I do a lot of background readings on past research.  I also help develop some of the ways we test things in the lab. After the experiment gets approved through the IRB, I run the lab: having participants sign informed consents, getting the computers set up, getting participants in the rooms, having them read debriefing forms. After the experiment is done then I code the data, and sometimes I enter it into Excel. Very exciting stuff.

4. How do you think the RA relates to what you have learned in your classes?

It is exactly like Dr. Lorenz’s experimental psychology class, except I didn’t have to come up with the original idea. It also helps me to understand the theory and mathematical analysis behind classes like Tests and Measurements, such as “oh that is why I care about error!” or “standard conditions are important for every subject because….” It is also helpful when reading research articles that other professors have a student read. I understand why the methodology, and p-values are important to mention in those articles.

5. How important has this RA been to your educational experience at UWGB, and why?

Being an RA has been very important; it allows me to understand the entire process behind running an experiment from start to finish. I know that this is something I will be doing in my future career as a graduate student and as an employee. Most importantly, it allowed me to get to know one of my professors on a different level. Working side by side with Dr. Burns is such an honor; she has a Ph.D., and I am just an undergraduate student. Getting to know a professor is also helpful when the time for letters of recommendation comes around!

Editors’ Note: Wondering about getting a research assistantship of your own?  Read the want ads below for information about who is looking for RAs right now.  Also, the Human Development and Psychology websites have information on what faculty members are researching what, so check them out for more information.