Studying Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and Anxiety: Meet Erica Ferrara, 2019 Falvey Scholar
BY SHAWN PROCTOR
This is part 5 of a 6-part series featuring the 2019 Falvey Scholars. Read more about them every Tuesday and in the upcoming issue of Mosaic: the library’s bi-annual publication.
Erica Ferrara ’19 CLAS (Psychology and Honors major with a Political Science minor)
Hometown: New Rochelle, N.Y.
Faculty Mentor: Deena Weisberg, PhD, Assistant Professor Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences
Research: Test Anxiety in Elementary School Students in Relation to Standardized Testing
In her own words:
I began my research process in the Honors Program Senior Thesis course by committing to the topic of test anxiety in grade school students and enlisting mentors for the project—Dr. Deena Weisberg and Dr. Steven Krauss.
My overall goal was to conduct a comprehensive literature review about the topic, and then to use the information to design my own ideal intervention for combating test anxiety experienced by elementary school students, as well as lay out a proposed study for evaluating this intervention’s efficacy. For the fall, I decided to focus on the literature review, and for the spring I planned to work on my novel intervention proposal.
Falvey Memorial Library’s website provided me with all of the background research articles I needed to download and begin writing as the core basis of my project. My full rough draft for the Fall semester included three main sections: anxiety in general and test anxiety specifically, standardized testing, and previously attempted prevention and intervention methods for test anxiety.
For the spring semester, I utilized this literature review as a basis in designing my own original novel intervention to assist elementary school students struggling with symptoms of test anxiety in relation to standardized testing.
My final written draft of my literature review and my own proposal for an intervention combined spans over 80 pages!
Erica’s “Falvey Experience”:
Through Falvey Memorial Library I had access to many research articles concerning my selected topic. With such a large online selection, I was able to find all of the information that I needed to become informed about my topic, write a comprehensive literature review, and then form my own thoughts into a novel intervention combining the effective aspects of prior ones I read of in empirical articles.
Many of the articles I included require outside subscriptions if I did not have the Falvey website to work through. In a few cases, I utilized the Interlibrary Loan system set up through our library as well. I genuinely do not know how I would have gathered the sources I needed without the Library’s online system.
In addition, the Library consistently provided a conducive environment in which I was able to complete my work. The 24-hour section of Old Falvey was especially convenient for later nights. Knowing that I always had a quiet place to go to where everyone around me was working hard as well was quite comforting and motivating.
The Impact on Her:
This Honors Thesis was the first time I have committed to such a comprehensive task that was largely my own independent research. From this experience, I have learned many valuable research skills that I know I will carry into my future academic work.
I gained the independence and confidence to make my own decisions to truly make this project my own from this freedom and support.
Next year, I will enroll in a psychology clinical research methods master’s program with the ultimate goal of continuing my schooling to eventually earn a doctorate in child clinical psychology.
I aim to become a practitioner as well as to conduct research concerning the etiology, diagnosis, and treatment of anxiety and related disorders in young children, in a sense continuing the work that I have started through this thesis project. I aim to contribute to addressing this important problem that is currently growing even more in prevalence in society today.
Shawn Proctor, MFA, is communications and marketing program manager at Falvey Memorial Library.