Northeastern Illinois University Psychology major Yeo Eun (Grace) Yun was one of six recipients of the Student/Early Career Council (SECC) poster award during the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) Biennial Meeting, which took place March 21-23, 2019 in Baltimore, Md.
Yun’s poster was titled “Gesture Enhances Math Learning but Mostly for Children with Infrequent Media Experience.” In awarding Yun her prize, which comes with a one-year membership to SRCD, the judges wrote, “The recipient pool was particularly strong, and we can honestly say we were impressed with all of our applicants. You all really set the bar high for our inaugural poster contest!”
Yun, a junior, is a first-generation college student who came to the United States from Seoul, South Korea, when she was 3 years old. She expects to graduate in May 2020.
As a transfer student, Yun did not initially get involved in activities outside of her classes. However, Yun earned a 2018 summer internship with Northeastern Psychology Professor Ruth (Breckie) Church through the Student Center for Science Engagement (SCSE) and has continued the research for her Psychology capstone project. She went on to join several clubs, became an Orientation leader, and joined Theta Chi Omega National Multicultural Sorority Inc. She plans to apply to Ph.D. programs in Psychology.
“Grace has a natural affinity for conducting research and provides a wonderful and positive force to my lab team,” Church said. “Grace takes initiative but also is open to constructive suggestions, is enthusiastic, high-energy, diligent and competent. Already Grace shows a major command of complex behavioral coding, data analysis and statistics.”
Church believes Yun’s research will contribute to the understanding of cognitive processes involved in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concept acquisition.
Yun’s particular research examines the role of speech and gesture in the learning of abstract math concepts in elementary school children. Church and Yun provided video instruction of the meaning of the equal sign that includes gesture. Yun’s research examines whether children’s experience with digital media (watching TV and playing video games) influences the effectiveness of those instructional videos.
“Grace’s research has clear implications for web-based education,” Church said. “Her preliminary analyses suggest that digital media experience does have a significant impact on how effective gesture accompanying speech instruction works. Children with little digital media experience are more likely to need instruction with gesture to master the math concept taught in the videos.”
Yun is grateful to her lab mates and Church for their assistance and for the opportunity to represent Northeastern at SRCD. She is hopeful her research can impact student learning outcomes in the future.
“I believe it is imperative to look at the holistic perspective of children’s learning environments,” Yun said. “Children are coming from various backgrounds, and many researchers do not consider how this could affect their education. I believe that gestures can help enhance children’s learning and level the playing field to ensure every child will have the opportunity to succeed in their aspirations especially women interested in STEM fields.”