Each year, as part of the URECA program, the Early Cognition Lab accepts undergraduate students who are passionate about research to take on an independent research project. This year, 7 students joined us and we had a great time exploring diverse research topics. We are very proud to share that 2 of our students, Athena and Jessica, won prizes at the URECA poster competition for their outstanding research performance. We speak to them about their URECA journey.
What was your project about?
Jessica: My project was about the relationship between bilingualism and executive functioning in Singaporean pre-schoolers. I am deeply interested in early cognitive and language development, and working with this lab allowed me the rare opportunity of conducting studies directly with young children.
Athena: My project examined the biases that Chinese and Malay children in Singapore might have about intelligence. I felt that how children and their parents think about intelligence is very significant because children’s self-concepts can affect how they make decisions about their pursuits later on in life. It was also a bonus that the children whom I worked with were very endearing and it was a joy to be able to interact with them!
Why did you choose to do a URECA Final Year Project?
Jessica: I had wanted to participate in the URECA poster conference to meet other student researchers who are passionate about research in diverse fields. Hearing from them about their research projects pushed me to think beyond the scope of what I know and opened my eyes to new perspectives concerning childhood language and cognitive development.
What was your experience during the course of this project?
Athena: I had a fruitful experience getting involved in each stage of a research project, from recruitment to testing to drawing findings from the data obtained. We learn about various psychology testing methods in class but it is a little harder to grasp how these methods can be applied. It really was a unique experience to formulate experiments to test out theories and obtain the results first-hand. On its own, research could be a very daunting task but I was fortunate to receive close mentorship from the lab members and I learnt a great deal from them.
What was your biggest takeaway from pursuing the URECA project?
Athena: Choosing a URECA project based on a topic that I was interested in definitely made this research process a very enriching experience. The biggest takeaway was for me to conduct and see through a research project from start to finish. It is not always a smooth-sailing process but working through the little obstacles made the overall experience very worthwhile at the end of the day.
Jessica: I thoroughly enjoyed my time doing this project and I was very glad to do something so closely aligned to my interests, being in the classroom with the young students. I think that URECA is a great platform for honing your research skills and pursuing this project certainly grew my confidence and capabilities as a researcher.