UTC faculty, staff, and students presented a variety of projects at the University’s annual Research Day including exploring how to create a successful brand for a start-up company, discovering ways to help children learn fine motor skills, and researching the habits of Facebook users.

According to Meredith Perry, Director of the UTC Office of Partnerships and Sponsored Programs, this year’s Research Day was the largest yet. There were more than 90 poster presenters and more than 30 platform presentations, roughly doubling participation between 2011 and 2012.

“Research Day showcases the tremendous diversity of scholarly activity taking place on our campus.  Walking through the aisles of poster presentations, one has a chance to interact with students demonstrating a car that runs on chemicals, staff who have pioneered a college access curriculum for elementary school students, and faculty working across departmental lines to improve health care in our region,” Perry said.

“It’s an opportunity for faculty, staff, and students to learn about activities going on campus-wide that they might not encounter in their day-to-day campus experience.  It is a great opportunity to forge collaborative partnerships by generating conversations about shared goals and interests,” she continued.

Helping companies build better brands

Michelle Richards

Michelle Richards, a humanities major, combined marketing, psychology, graphic design, and mass communication theories to investigate how start-up companies can develop strong, memorable brands.

“To create a successful brand, the company has to hone on what they’re doing and what they’re offering their customers,” she said.

For her project, Richards researched all aspects of branding, including logo design, business plans, and marketing initiatives, to discover how they worked together to form a cohesive brand.

Richards, who is in the process of starting her own company, emphasized that other young professionals need to research and understand the fundamentals of business planning and building a business effectively before starting a business.

“The more specific a company can make their brand, the better. The business owners needs to decide who their target audience is and use strategies to market directly to them,” she said.

Discovering new ways to help children learn

Dr. Julie Bage

Assisting children in learning visual motor skills was the goal of Dr. Julie Bage’s research. For this project, Bage, an Adjunct Professor of Physical Therapy, was joined by several of her colleagues in the Physical Therapy Department and the Siskin Children’s Institute, a local facility that serves children with special needs and their families, for this project.

Instead of using traditional video modeling, Bage and colleagues used point-of-view video self-modeling (POVM). POVM is a method of teaching that uses a video recording to provide a visual model of a behavior or skill.

According to Bage, the videos they filmed for the research would first show the child a picture of themselves, and then, just the hands of another child accurately performing the visual motor skill.

“This type of modeling allows children to better picture themselves completing the skills and therefore, they can better imitate those skills in the classroom,” she said.

Bage and colleagues found that POVM improved performance of the visual motor skills shown in the video, and also helped the children retain those skills.

“Not only has POVM an effective way to help children learn, but it’s more cost-effective for teachers and schools. The process could be applied in multiple classrooms,” Bage said.

Researching the personalities of Facebook users

Ashley Daughtrey

It was another study that sparked UTC student Ashley Daughtrey’s interest in discovering what influences college students to spend more time on Facebook.

“In a study I read, researchers said that people with more narcissistic personalities tend to use Facebook. I thought people might be more diverse than that,” she said.

In her survey of nearly 150 UTC students, Daughtrey concluded that extraversion, not narcissism, was a key factor in heavy usage of the site. According to her research, extraverted people are more likely to post more status update and photos to the site than other users.

“It’s easy to get extraversion and narcissism confused. Extraverted people are energetic, active, and sociable. Narcissistic people are good at pretending they’re those things,” she said.

Daughtrey, who will graduate next month, balanced her research project with her full-time class and work schedule. This mother of a five-year-old advises other students to be realistic about their research projects.

“Initially, I wanted to survey 200 students, but I couldn’t do it, and I’m okay with that. Set your goals, but know your limitations,” she said.

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