Psychology students make the most of personal laboratory experience | Press releases






(LR) Jason Finley, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Senior Psychology with majoring in Claire Ellis, Patricia Roberts, Sarah McCoy, Alyssa Cerna, and Alexandra Hardy.


December 14, 2021 – After spending more than a year doing coursework mostly online or in a hybrid format due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has not escaped the notice of five psychology students at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville how happily they were able to meet in person this semester . The academic staff team is engaged in applied learning with the assistance of Jason Finley, PhD, assistant professor of psychology.

“It was so wonderful for us to work together in person in the lab,” said Finley. “Laboratory meetings are the melting pot of scientific research, where new ideas emerge from extensive intellectual conversation and practical exploration of both previous literature and new data.”

Seniors Alyssa Cerna, Claire Ellis, Alexandra Hardy, Sarah McCoy, and Patricia Roberts have worked with Finley on a variety of research topics this semester, from memory to cultural prejudice.

One project, The Forgetting Curve, is a collaboration with California-based artist Deborah Aschheim who has spent over 10 years exploring her own memory. Ellis and Hardy are continuing Finley’s previous work on this project by encoding Aschheim’s qualitative data to produce quantitative data that will enable them to perform statistical analysis and recognize patterns in their memory.

“We look at what is remembered, but looking through all the data we want to find out what is wrongly remembered and whether there is a connection between those errors in your memory,” said Ellis.

In the Photo Importance study, Roberts and Finley asked study participants to select only one year of their lives to keep photos. The pandemic affected the results of this study in unexpected ways.

“There were some participants who mentioned that they chose a particular year because it was before the pandemic,” Roberts explained. “Although the results are currently unclear, this could have an interesting and unexpected impact.”

McCoy had the opportunity to work with Finley on a project from early to late this semester. The Cultural Bias in Security Questions project attempted to find out whether or not security questions posed by online identity verification systems are biased towards white, heterosexual people with heteronormative lives.

“That research experience was one of the most enriching experiences of my academic career,” said McCoy. “I was involved in a research project from start to finish that gave me an authentic, behind-the-scenes look at how real psychological research is done (sometimes through trials and trials). Dr. Finley awakened a strong curiosity and passion in me for learning the human mind. “

Finley and his research fellows have not taken for granted the time they can spend at the lab bench this semester discussing their research projects.

“We are blessed to meet face-to-face in our laboratory,” said Hardy. “We had so many great conversations about our projects that might have been more difficult on Zoom.”

While Finley and his students are fully vaccinated and happy to attend meetings in the psychology lab, much of their research is still done without face-to-face contact. This challenge makes their lab talks even more important as they work through different types of data collection.

“Joining the research laboratory this semester gave me a lot of insights into the research experience. It’s difficult and time-consuming, but still very rewarding, ”said Cerna. “As painful as the pandemic was, it at least got us to find more creative ways to conduct our research. Of course, personal research is always great, but now we can use our resources, such as technology, to create great studies that produce promising results. “

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville offers students high quality, affordable education preparing them for successful careers and determined lives to shape a changing world. Building on broad liberal education and enhanced through hands-on research and hands-on experience, SIUE students are prepared through academic preparation to succeed in the global marketplace and make our communities a better place to live. The SIUE campus sits on 2,660 acres of beautiful cliff-top woodland overlooking the natural beauty of the Mississippi River’s rich lowlands and just a short drive from downtown St. Louis. The SIUE campus is home to a diverse student body of more than 13,000.


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