| Dr. Aris Karagiorgakis, Black Hills State University assistant professor of psychology, and Autumn Sanderson, a recent BHSU graduate from Conde, presented their research at the American Psychological Association convention in Hawaii this summer.
|Taarna Murray, psychology major from Custer, left, recent BHSU graduate Autumn Sanderson, and Dr. Aris Karagiorgakis, Black Hills State University assistant professor of psychology, at Pearl Harbor. The three visited the historic site during their trip to the American Psychological Association convention this summer.
| Dr. Aris Karagiorgakis, Black Hills State University assistant professor of psychology, left, with Philip Zimbardo, a psychologist and professor emeritus from Stanford University who is widely known for his Stanford prison study.
|| Autumn Sanderson, recent BHSU graduate, with psychologist Philip Zimbardo. Sanderson presented her research on the effectiveness of a local afterschool program at the nationally recognized American Psychological conference this summer.
Dr. Aris Karagiorgakis, Black Hills State University assistant professor of psychology, and Autumn Sanderson, a recent BHSU graduate from Conde, presented their research on the effectiveness of a local afterschool program at the American Psychological Association (APA) Convention in Honolulu this summer.
Psychologists from all over the nation submit their research for an opportunity to present at the nationally recognized conference, according to Karagiorgakis. “Being selected to present is a huge honor for Autumn, the psychology department and Black Hills State University,” he said. “This highlights the outstanding work we are doing at BHSU.”
Sanderson said she was surprised when learning their research had been selected for the APA conference. “In our section of vocational psychology there were only five posters presented.”
Sanderson has been working with Karagiorgakis for several years researching the effectiveness of an afterschool program in Sturgis to boost standardized test scores. Sanderson and Karagiorgakis’ assessment focuses on grades 4-8.
The Sturgis Area After School Program (SAASP) is a collaborative effort funded by the 21st Century Communities Learning Program through the South Dakota Department of Education.
“We just analyzed the second year of the program – there are three more years of the grant,” Sanderson said.
Sanderson said they assessed the program using the students’ Dakota State Test of Educational Progress (DSTEP) scores. “We compared scores to the previous year’s scores and the scores of students who aren’t in the program to see if they are doing better or worse,” she said.
Administrators of the afterschool program collected the data including how many students are in the program, how often they attend, and their Dakota STEP scores and sent it to Sanderson and Karagiorgakis who analyzed the information and provided feedback on the program.
Sanderson, who is beginning her master’s program in counseling and human resources development this fall, said being involved in faculty-mentored research prepared her for graduate school.
“Being involved in research makes you stand out from the crowd,” Sanderson said. “When I went to my graduate school interview, none of the other students in the group interview had research experience. When interviewers asked me questions about confidentiality, I could speak from experience.”
Sanderson also presented her research at the Black Hills Research Symposium and the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) in 2012.
“This has given me invaluable experience,” she said noting that aside from conducting research she has honed her presenting skills. “It teaches you to communicate effectively about different topics and to translate academic topics to people who may not fully understand the details.”
Karagiorgakis added that the students he mentors also develop a keen attention to detail – the biggest benefit of conducting research, he said.
During the APA conference, Karagiorgakis and Sanderson met Philip Zimbardo, a psychologist and professor emeritus from Stanford University who is widely known for his Stanford prison study. He is also the author of various introductory psychology books and textbooks for college students.
The two also met Barry Scheck, best known as one of the defense attorneys for O.J. Simpson, who was the keynote speaker for the conference. Founder of the Innocence Project, Scheck spoke on how the project is using psychologists’ research to help prevent wrongful convictions.
National conferences such as the APA provide great opportunities for BHSU students to network with the leading professionals in their discipline and gain one-of-a-kind experiences they can take with them after graduation.