Research is a powerful way to help students develop critical thinking, analytical and communication skills they can use throughout their lives and careers. At Tiffin University (TU), we think research is so important, we created the annual TU Virtual Research Conference to showcase and reward our students’ accomplishments.
Each year, all TU online and on-campus students are invited to submit a proposal to present their research at the conference. Our Virtual Conference Committee reviews the proposals and gives presenters individual feedback. To prepare students for the 2020 conference, we offered training on how to use Blackboard Collaborate, a real-time video conferencing tool, and extra resources to help create presentations. A conference webpage provided information on the event and presenters.
On April 21, about 40 TU online students and faculty attended the conference via Blackboard Collaborate. The theme, “The Impact of Research,” was highlighted in 20-minute student presentations on a range of topics. Two students received awards for Best Paper.
The first award went to Abbeylin Farnsworth, who is in her second semester of the TU Master of Humanities program. Abbeylin presented “Illuminating Social Injustice: How Protest Songs Spur Public Change,” which supports her goal to highlight social disparities and use literature, music and theater to reshape communities. Her paper examined music’s role in calling for unity and action in times of social and political conflict. Abbeylin is also writing short stories on women’s issues including rape, infertility and lifestyle choices and hopes to create docudramas emphasizing grassroots efforts to spur social change.
The second award went to Julie Leger, who is working toward her master’s degree in educational technology management at TU. Her presentation was titled, “We Need to Talk: Classroom Strategies to Improve Student Willingness to Communicate in a Second Language.” It identified classroom strategies that American high school world language teachers can implement to instill the willingness to communicate in their students, prepare them to complete the language program and build confidence to communicate in a second language. Julie is a Spanish teacher at Port Clinton High School, World Language Department Chairperson, International Club Advisor and member of the Wellness and Technology district committees.
The TU Virtual Research Conference ended with a keynote presentation by Kaylee Laasko, Senior Operations Research Analyst/Lead Effects Coordinator for SkyBridge Tactical at the U.S. Central Command in Information Operations. Kaylee is a former conference participant and current TU graduate student. Her presentation, “Fact or Fiction: Exploring preferences for information consumption,” reviewed types of information consumed across media with a focus on the propagation of disinformation and misinformation.
Participants and attendees called the 2020 TU Virtual Conference a huge success. It gave TU online undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to share the hard work they’ve done with others in their fields. The conference also set TU students apart from other graduates by enabling them to apply their passion and knowledge to important topics, cultivate professional identities and gain practical experience presenting research.