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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Four COE Students Honored at Research Competition

Darielle Blevins presents at SRS 2017
Four College of Education students were recently honored for their research presentations at the San Diego State University’s Student Research Symposium 2017.

The Student Research Symposium is a two-day event recognizing the outstanding academic achievements of SDSU students.

The SRS provides a public forum where SDSU students present their research, scholarship or creative activities. Contestants submit an application to present either preliminary or completed results from their original research or creative activity.


President’s Award

Darielle Blevins got the SDSU President’s Award for her research presentation on Closeness and Contact: Teachers Perceptions of Kindergarten Girls. Blevins, who is working on her Ph.D. in Education through the SDSU joint doctoral program with Claremont Graduate University, received a $500 scholarship. She was also invited to represent SDSU at the California State University Student Research Competition in May 2017.

Blevins’ research sought to determine if differences exist in teacher reported closeness and conflict among Kindergarten girls of various ethnicities and socioeconomic status. Her results indicated teachers did not differ in reported closeness to black girls across income levels, nevertheless teachers reported higher levels of conflict and classroom interference for black girls compared to girls of other ethnicities.

“In education, so many times we focus on discipline and boys and don’t pay a lot of attention to girls,” said Blevins, who plans to use her scholarship to pay for tuition and books. “It was important to show that African-American girls are treated differently.”

Blevins, who teaches Child Behavior and Guidance at  MiraCosta Community College and Personal Growth at San Diego City College, said she is happy to be invited to participate in the CSU Research Competition.

“I am very excited to be able to go and represent SDSU,” said Blevins, a San Diego resident who would like to continue doing research after completing her doctorate’s degree and open a school that will help children find their identity and develop emotionally. “It will be good to shine more light on this issue.”

Dean’s Award
Associate Dean Nadine Bezuk with Melissa Navarro
Associate Dean Nadine Bezuk with Melissa Navarro

Melissa Navarro, another SDSU-Claremont Graduate University joint doctoral program student, received the Dean’s Award for her research presentation on Kindergarten Students: Predictors of Teacher’s Perception on Student Science Knowledge and Skills in Classrooms with English Learners. She will receive $250.


“I was very excited! Like most of the students in the crowd during the awards ceremony, I was hoping to receive an award but there were so many great presentations that nothing was certain,” said Navarro, adding that she will use the money to help fund her travel to conference presentations. “It was a wonderful surprise.”

Navarro said she chose her topic because as a former K-8 teacher, she experienced a lack of preparation and further training in teaching science, especially in a dual language setting.

“Preparing future scientists is extremely important to me. I've been exploring the idea of how teacher's perceptions, at various grade levels, affect the ways teachers see their students as scientists,” said Navarro, an instructor for the Department of Dual Language and English Learner Education in the bilingual credential program at SDSU and a science methods teacher in Spanish to elementary pre-service teachers.

“For the SRS, I presented a paper that focused on kindergarten students and their teachers because I believe we need to address how teachers' perceptions of their students at a very young age impact the students in relation to science,” concluded the Tijuana native and San Diego resident.
Jenna Palacios at the NASP conference in San Antonio
Another Dean's Award, $250 scholarship recipient was Jenna Palacios, a master’s student in School Psychology. Her presentation focused on The Impact of Native-Language Literacy.

“It was my third presentation of the year and it felt really rewarding to win something this time around. It was awesome seeing my name on the screen and realizing that I won,” said Palacios, adding that she chose her topic because “I have gained tremendous experience over the last few years working with second language learners and see the strengths they have as well as the challenges they face in the education system.”

Palacios is presently a school psychologist practicum student at two schools in San Diego working towards her hours for her program. She is also a substitute teacher in the San Diego Unified School District.

“I enjoy talking about the tremendous assets that bilingual students possess because they are often seen as ‘unable’ to learn,” said Palacios, who lives in La Mesa and plans to become a school psychologist. “I also enjoy and talking about the immense research behind the benefits and capabilities of bilingual individuals because legislation does not support their emerging bilingual abilities and usually supports for English only teaching in the schools.”

Provost’s Award
AneleVillanueva(Center), with Dr. Margaret Friend (left) and Erin Smolak (right)
Anele Villanueva (Center), with Dr. Margaret Friend (left)
and Erin Smolak (right)

Last was not least was Anele Villanueva, an undergraduate student studying Child Development. Villanueva received the Provost’s Award and $150 for her research on The Relationship of Code-Switching and Translation Equivalents, and How Does It Relate to Executive Functioning in Young Children?

“I worked really hard for this project. But there were so many other great presentations, I was not expecting to get it,” said Villanueva, who plans to save her scholarship money for graduate school. “I was really excited to get it. It was a really good feeling.”

Villanueva said she chose her research topic because she wanted to learn how growing up bilingual impacts cognition and physical development.

“I wanted to know how does it work and it was a really great experience,” said Villanueva, a Bonita resident who grew up speaking English and Spanish. “I really want to raise awareness on this issue.”

More information about the Student Research Symposium can be found here.