Mariah Olson

Mariah Olson

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June 16

The biggest challenge I’ve been faced with so far this summer has definitely been getting the Bloom’s Taxonomy IRB ready for approval. Our study design isn’t perfectly fleshed out yet, so it’s been a struggle to find the right balance between being specific enough to get the IRB quickly approved and being vague enough that we have freedom to hone the details of our study design. I also needed to draft a lot of different types of technical documents that I've never dealt with before–interview and recruitment scripts, a study termination form and two different consent forms.

Last night I emailed all my drafts for the IRB to the rest of the research team so they can review everything. Getting that email sent off was definitely a good feeling. I’m really looking forward to the next stage of the project: doing a preliminary study where we'll have some people (probably some fellow REU students) try the activity we’re researching and get their feedback so we can hone our study design. I’ve never facilitated user experience testing before, so I think it will be another challenge but also a cool learning experience.

June 9

This week had it’s highs and lows. In both of the projects I’ve been working on, there are a lot of decisions to be made and a lot of unknowns. All the research I’ve done in the past was in my own way and on my own time, which I’ve realized has a completely different workflow than collaborating with faculty on a project that’s already been started. Before, if I got an idea for a new direction for my research I might just grab some coffee and spend all night exploring that line of research. The next day I’d have a completely different hypothesis… no-one knew and no-one cared. I’ve had to learn that in an actual, academic research project, there are deadlines to meet, meetings to plan, emails to write, and plenty of potential toes to step on. While it’s been an adjustment, I’m really thankful to be working with such an awesome group. I think things will get easier as our research questions are solidified, as well.

It’s been a good week, overall. Lot’s of micro-adventures playing pool, taking random walks, watching movies, meeting up with old friends and getting to know my new friends better. I’m really looking forward to going to the whitewater rafting center tomorrow.

June 2

My project investigates how we can encourage CS students to reflect on their learning process by interacting with a Bloom’s taxonomy matrix. Dr. Celine and Stephen already worked on a program that allows students to highlight the boxes of a Bloom’s taxonomy matrix representing the cognitive skills they utilized most in a given assignment. Right now, we are trying to design a study that makes use of this tool to encourage student’s self-reflection as well as to see if exposing students to each other’s reflections may have some benefits. One obstacle that we are facing is that the level of cognitive load required for this type of reflection to be significant may be too high for most students to willingly bear, which could potentially result in random selections and insignificant outcomes. Over the weekend, I want to research some possible ways to minimize this cognitive load and maximize students engagement with the Bloom’s taxonomy matrix.

This summer, I hope to learn how to review, analyze and write papers as well as how to design and conduct studies with proper methodology. I also hope to have some good times with the other REU students because it’s my first time living on campus so I can join in a lot more activities than I usually can as a commuter.