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Becoming a Scholar projects showcase diverse interests

By Hannah Conklin

What do movies, First Ladies, and color psychology have in common? The answer can be found in Bluffton’s common first-year course, Becoming a Scholar (LAS 105).

Each fall, incoming freshmen are required to take Becoming a Scholar. A key component of the course is a semester-long project which promotes the development of scholarly research habits.

The topic of the project, as well its format, is up to each student to decide. The result is a group of projects that reflect the diverse passions and interests of the first-year class.

For example, first-year student Cassie Reinhart conducted her research on Dissociative Identity Disorder, formerly referred to as multiple personality disorder. She said she chose her topic because of the television show, United States of Tara. The show follows a mother struggling with the disorder and raising children.

Reinhart said, “I explored the many ways it can be misdiagnosed and misconceived. This proved to be the most interesting aspect of this disorder.”

Another student, first-year Brandon Long, looked at movies and culture for his course project. He explained that he loves watching and reviewing movies, so he enjoyed his research.

“I thought the project was enjoyable because we all got to choose something that we were already interested in and explore it even more,” Long said.

First-year student Kennady Robakowski chose to explore color psychology for her course project. For her presentation, her classmates took quizzes on different colored sheets of paper to see how it affected their performance and mood. She hoped to use an interactive method of presenting to connect her research to real-life college student experience.

Assistant Professor of Social Work Diana Kleman taught the course for her first time this fall semester. She said she finds the projects to be a great introduction to research and a strong connection to the civic engagement theme of creativity. She also appreciates how the structure gives students a chance to teach their peers about something they care about.

“We have had fabulous projects in my class,” she said. “There’s a range of topics from human trafficking to guitar to architecture to First Ladies.”

After watching the presentations in Kleman’s class, sophomore Becoming a Scholar mentor Emily Rush said, “They’re the best part of the class.”

For those interested in seeing the Becoming a Scholar projects, many will be nominated by professors and presented during the Research Fair. The 2017 Research Fair will be Feb. 9 in Musselman Library.

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