Third Annual EHDx Talks Celebrates Student Research
Undergraduate students are central to the success of their Bass Connections teams. So to recognize their hard work all year, the Education and Human Development (EHD) Bass Connections theme gathered for the third annual EHDx Talks in Gross Hall for Interdisciplinary Innovation on April 19, 2018.
Launched by a $50 million gift from Anne and Robert Bass, Bass Connections is a university-wide initiative that provides both graduate and undergraduate students with greater exposure to inquiry across the disciplines, partnership with unlikely fellow thinkers, sustained mentorship in teams, and the chance to experience the intersections of the academy and the broader world.
Bass Connections is made up of five different thematic areas aligned with five of Duke’s interdisciplinary institutes and initiatives. The Social Science Research Institute houses the Education & Human Development (EHD) theme.
Through the different project teams students from departments across the university work together on research questions that draw from their disciplinary strengths and engage their curiosity.
“A lot of students, including myself, come into Duke with preconceived ideas about research: students who do research sit in a lab all day examining biological specimens or mixing ambiguous chemicals,” said Victoria Prince, a senior in Public Policy Studies and African & African American Studies on the Contextual Influences on Children's Identity Development team.
“Bass Connections creates a space for that kind of research, but EHD makes room for students who are interested in learning more about education systems and human development. There is a lot of room for educational advocacy,” Prince said.
A seasoned EHD Bass Connections team member, she has been on multiple teams researching education policy and inequity in the classroom.
This academic year, EHD Bass Connections hosted sixteen different project teams with at least as many interpretations of what education and human development research can mean.
“Gathering as a theme for EHD allows us to share our own work with others, but also learn more about what people in this field are interested in.” Prince said. “It was also helpful to understand how different groups used various methods for all types of research related to education.”
And while each team could surely dive into the details of their projects, talks at EHDx are capped at five minutes. It’s one way to ensure students reflect on the bigger moments from their year’s worth of research.
A poster session followed the talks as well as a reception in the Gross Hall atrium.
“The short talk allowed us to zoom out to get the big 360 degree view of where we started at the very beginning of the year and of everything that we've done throughout the year,” said Jihane Bettahi, a senior double majoring in Electrical & Computer Engineering and Computer Science with a minor in Mathematics and Education.
Bettahi was a member of the Open Source Education Technology team exploring open source principles in education and won the award for Best Talk alongside teammates Justin Bergkamp and Cody Li.
Prince, alongside her teammates Kalito Luna and Julia Sutherland, won Best Poster.
The Best Website award went to Kyra Rubin, JJ Moncus, Sarah Sculco, and Rose Graves of the How To Ask Questions team investigating political polarization.
The awards, said Amy Finnegan, EHD Bass Connections theme administrator, are part of the character of EHDx Talks.
“[It’s] a celebration of the work students have done over the past year,” said Finnegan. “Not only that, but it's a time to reflect on the core components of what they did in their projects — not just how many data points they may have collected but connecting these together to tell a story of their research.”
For many, EHDx Talks is a time to both look back on the year’s work while looking ahead to what other work can be done. It’s a time to celebrate the work as well as the different approaches to education and human development research.
“After you realize how much work you’ve done, the EHDx event is like icing on the cake,” Prince said. “We’re all so interested in each other's research! The space has a very positive, uplifting energy, in which we wish everyone the best and understand that we are all passionate about really interesting work. Not only do we showcase our work and how proud we are of it, but we are also inspired by our fellow EHD theme members to keep doing this important work.”