Rianne Stowell '13
2011 Soar Student
Major/minor: Neuroscience and Spanish double major
Hometown: Coopersburg, PA
Project: The effect of context change and the testing effect on long term memory
Project advisor: Sarah Johnson
Project details: My SOAR project was a cognitive psychology project which examined different methods for potentially improving long-term retention of material. We looked at the testing effect; essentially taking pre-tests before a final test is more effective than just studying material, due to the activation of retrieval processes. We also looked at the effect of environmental context change during study and pretest sessions; participants were moved from room to room in one condition of the experiment. For the project, I assisted with designing the experimental sessions, running the sessions, analyzing the data, and writing up results. I also had the opportunity to do background research in neuroscience articles, looking at long term memory to tie the project to my major.
Why I wanted to participate in SOAR: I am interested in research and wanted to do something in the field of cognition to see if that is where my interests are in neuroscience. SOAR gave me an opportunity to gain valuable research experience and insight into my possible career plans.
Results: I learned how to be a research assistant and run a full research project. Our project is also a good starting point for future work and additional experiments. We saw the testing effect influencing long term memory, though context changes did not seem to cause and changes in performance. This will lead to more research to evaluate what role context does or does not play.
Future plans: I am planning to pursue research in other areas. I will be pursuing cellular neurobiology projects in order to better prepare myself for graduate school.