The Research Rookies Reception

My second time at the Research Rookies Reception as a returning Research Rookie was a wonderful experience! It was very different from last year’s reception because instead of video taping us, we gave our short elevator pitch live on stage. I did not get nervous until I was on stage because I was first so busy networking with other people who attended the event. This was a great way to catch-up with others and tell them about my research. Once on stage I was a little nervous first but forgot about that once I started talking. I enjoyed talking about my research as I have been working on this project for over a year now. I felt very confident and comfortable because I knew that I know my research very well. The content of my speech came very naturally to me as I do believe it is the knowledge I have about my project and not the memorization that could help succeed in an elevator pitch. Even though it is important to prepare for and practice an elevator pitch well, it should not be memorized. This also helps to not forget any lines because I never use the exact same words. My favorite part of the reception was the networking. I enjoyed meeting many new people but also seeing familiar faces. It was a wonderful feeling sharing my research experience with others and getting positive feedback for it.

I am very excited for next semester and cannot wait to continue with my research project. This semester was very successful so far because I was able to collect some data already. For next semester, I am planning on collecting more data and reach our goal of around 90 participants overall. Research does not always turn out the way it was planned but I will try hard to get as many participants signed up as possible. Since we had a good start in the fall, this will help me to succeed in the spring. Besides the data collection, I will also be working on my poster and the thesis write-up that is an important part of my project this year. In April, I will defend my thesis in front of different faculty from the Psychology department. This is an exciting last year at Northern Illinois University for me and I am very happy I can spend this time in the Research Rookies program. I see this as a great preparation for graduate school as I have just sent out all of my applications. In the spring I will find out where I will be going to school in the fall semester. I am very thankful that Research Rookies opened me so many doors for my future career. Without the Research Rookies program I would not have had such a great first experience with undergraduate research. Thanks to the program I met my faculty mentor Dr. Larissa Barber who has helped me in so many ways along this way. Thank you!

Research is a Process

My research has been going good so far. After successfully defending my proposal about two months ago, I made some changes to my methods and recorded a third education video that I am now using in my experiment. Data collection started out slow as many students did not seem to want to visit the laboratory during their midterm week. Fortunately, we were able to collect more data over the last weeks as more participants showed up. So far we have had 12 participants coming to the lab and I hope we will have some more before Christmas break.

I am definitely on track according to my proposal that I have already written during the summer. Deadlines have been met and data collection can only get better. Depending on how many people will sign up as participants this semester and in the spring, we should be able to get close to 90 participants as described in my proposal. I only had to make minor changes to my proposal as I changed some details in my methods section. Other than that, my research has not changed at all.

Maria Senf

My experience with Research Rookies has been very different up to this point compared to last year. As I started out as a new Research Rookie last year, I could not start data collection until January 2014. During the fall semester of 2013, I was first introduced to the research process overall, worked on my research proposal and did literature review. This semester, I am much more advanced because I was able to write my proposal over the summer break. We received IRB approval early in the semester and could therefore start data collection in October already. This gives us more time to collect data.

My experience as a small group leader is absolutely amazing and I just love working with these three lovely ladies. I enjoy the aspect of working on my own research project and guiding young Research Rookies through their own projects. It is fun to see what they do, what field in Psychology they like, and how much progress they made in such a short time. One of my favorite parts of this position is to get positive feedback from my three Research Rookies. It is always great to hear how much they love being in the program and how much they have learned from me. They provide me with a feeling of comfort and are always very reliable. This is what makes this experience unique. There is nothing about my position as a peer leader that I do not like or that are challenging.

First Success in my Second Research Year

My research is going very well. After successfully defending my thesis proposal, my proposal got approved. This was an exciting event that made me learn a lot. Even though I was very nervous before the actual defense, I felt so much better during my presentation. I was first a little scared because I did not know how many questions I would be asked and whether I would be able to respond to all of them. In the end, I knew that I prepared well and that I did not have to worry because I knew my research very well. This has probably been my biggest challenge this semester so far.

Another success was my IRB approval last week. I did not expect for it to come so quickly which made me very happy and excited to start data collection. Today, I was able to get everything ready for the study so that I could collect my first data next Monday. We will be setting up times slots on SONA soon and I hope we will have many participants coming into the lab.

I absolutely love my role as a Peer Leader. It is such a great add-on to my experience with Research Rookies. My small group is fantastic and it is always a lot of fun interacting with the girls. It is amazing to see how much they learn and what projects they will be working on during the year. As a Peer Leader, I am learning how important it is to provide support to my small group. It is great to provide them with tips and strategies that are helpful for their research process. I cannot wait to work further with them and guide them through a successful year.

A Second Year

I am very excited about this amazing opportunity to be a second-year Research Rookie! This year, I will not only be able to work further on my research from last year, but will also have the chance to share my previous research experience with new Research Rookies. As a peer leader, I will guide a small group of students through the process and help them experience a successful year of first research.

Finding a mentor was a decision I already made before I even decided to join Research Rookies a second time. My last year with my faculty mentor Dr. Barber was amazing and I cannot say it enough how much I learned from her. She has been a great guide for me to learn everything I needed to know about research and my preparation for graduate school. Before I joined as a peer leader for Research Rookies, I decided to do my Senior Honors Thesis in Psychology. Working closely together with my mentor, I knew that she was the person I wanted to work with again this year.

Writing my proposal as a returning student to Research Rookies was similar to last year’s. However, as I made some changes in my research this year and added another experimental group to my project, I highlighted the changes in my proposal and changed it accordingly. Overall, the proposal contains similar content and follows the guidelines of the program. I am very excited to finally start my research and see if we will have different results compared to last year. Adding another group to our study and increasing the sample size may bring interesting outcomes.

I have been working in the lab since the new semester started. I was not able to start my initial data collection yet but I familiarized myself with my project already. One part of my Honors Senior Thesis in Psychology is to write and defend a formal research proposal in preparation to my final thesis in the spring. In order for me to start my data collection, I will have to defend my proposal first and then renew my IRB. Next Monday, I will be defending my proposal in front of different professors from the Psychology department. This is an exciting time that I believe will also prepares me well for my entrance into graduate school next year. I have been working with my faculty mentor over the summer already and discussed all the details regarding the proposal and the next steps in the project. I now feel ready to start a new year full of research and cannot wait to welcome my first participants in the lab.

Happy researching!

Research Rookies 2014/2015

My Summer Research Adventure

My summer research with the Summer Research Opportunities Program was a full success! In only 8 short weeks I was able to start and finish the research project “Judgement Bias in Evaluative Situations” with my faculty mentor Dr. Santuzzi. Here we examined whether individual workers interpret a supervisor’s behavior as being threatening when they are feeling evaluative scrutiny.  This is based on previous research that suggests that an individual worker’s evaluative concerns might increase his or her perceptions of abuse by a supervisor. After collecting the data it was time to analyze it via SPSS. I still cannot believe how much I have actually learned this summer. On top of my previous learned researcher skills in my Research Methods course, my  lab and the independent study in Psychology I have gained an insight into the world of SPPS. Today, I can say that I was able to deepen this knowledge over the summer as I could apply this in my summer project. My mentor and the graduate student of the lab were me a great help and advice in this process. I learned so much from them. 

My SROP project turned out well. From the 2 hypotheses I had, 1 turned out to be statistically significant. We found that participants who read an abusive scenario made negative attributions to the supervisor when they were under evaluative pressure. As a consequence, they rated the target in a scenario as more abusive (Kaplan, Santuzzi, & Ruscher, 2009; Santuzzi, 2011). Participants rated the ambiguous scenario as less abusive than the abusive scenario but more abusive than the positive scenario.

The greatest challenge and accomplishment for me this summer was the analysis part of my research. As I have only gotten a small insight into SPPS before, I still had to learn a lot about the different features of the program. With the help of my faculty mentor and the graduate student I overcame this challenge and was able to successfully analyze and apply my data. This being said, having been able to use SPSS, I accomplished one part of my goals for this summer. Before going on to graduate school, I wanted to feel comfortable enough to work with this program that is so essential in psychological research.

I am very excited for this Friday, our last day of this program. I am looking forward to the Summer Research Symposium where I will be able to share my recent findings with my peers, friends and faculty. In form of a poster and an oral presentation I will present my research to the general audience. This will be a truly amazing experience that will be the end to and even more amazing summer! Thanks to the Summer Research Opportunities Program I have learned so much about research that I feel comfortable now to continue my previous research project from Research Rookies in the fall. For now, I will not work further on my current summer project but I hope I will be able to co-author on Dr. Santuzzi’s paper that will include parts of this project. My next step will be my honors senior thesis under the guidance of my faculty advisor Dr. Barber who I have been working with for almost a year now. I am very excited for this old/new project that will build on my summer research experience here at Northern Illinois University.

A Step Into The Future

As the summer research program comes to an end, I am getting closer and closer to my senior year here at Northern Illinois University. It is unbelievable how fast time passed and my 3 years here are almost over. It is now time to look beyond this time and plan my future academic or professional career. My dream is it to go to graduate school to pursue my PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology. If this doesn’t work out, I am also planning on applying to several master programs that seem to fit my interests to a great extent. Over the summer, I have worked extensively on writing my personal statements, took the GRE as well as prepared my applications. Later this fall, I will be submitting all them to the schools I am applying to. This process is not only a little scary but especially exciting because it will determine where I will be at only a year from now.

Maria Senf in Research

After having done so much research in the last year, I feel ready to start a new chapter of my life. I am excited to go to graduate school and dive deeper into the subject matter. After graduate school, I can see myself working for a large company. There are so many different opportunities for Industrial Organizational Psychologists out there which I am still exploring along the way. I hope that an internship in Human Resources next summer can lead me to the right path for my future career. I believe that the combination of research and working experience will prepare me well for my future success.

The Final Step

Chicago by Maria Senf


My last week in the Summer Research Opportunities Program is almost here and our final presentation not far away. I am very happy with how the summer went and I cannot wait to share my research results at the Summer Symposium in a week from now. This week, I am finalizing all my work. This includes making last adjustments on my research poster, my oral and my final paper and discussing everything with my faculty mentor. From previous research I have learned that it is important to read the poster over and over again because there is always this one typo that nobody saw but after printing it is too late to change it.

Chicago by Maria Senf


My goal this week is to put my poster into print on Friday and then focus on finalizing my oral presentation over the weekend. Before practicing with my mentor on Monday, I will familiarize myself with the slides and prepare myself to speak freely. Our last project will be the final paper that I already wrote. Next week, it will be time to make last adjustments before I can submit it. On August 8 it will be time to present my research results to the audience starting at 9:00am, followed by my poster at 1:00pm. This will be an exciting day that I cannot wait for. I will be finally able to share my results with other people, which is one of the most exciting parts in research. Until then – happy final research!

My SROP Faculty Mentor

In her research, my faculty mentor Dr. Santuzzi focuses, among others, on metaperceptions, knowing what other people think of us; the anxiety people often experience during interviews; and social interaction in face-to-face as well as virtual groups. From the very first moment I saw my faculty mentor’s research, I knew I wanted to work with her. I was especially fascinated by the fact what other people think of us and how social interaction can go when being in a virtual group. Meeting Dr. Santuzzi in person was absolutely great and I couldn’t wait to finally start working under her guidance. Dr. Santuzzi helped me to a great extent from the very first moment we started working together. Throughout the program, she gave me good guidance and helped me along the way. Before the SROP program even started, we already had Skype meetings where we discussed the research project in detail. This was a great way for me to get to know her better prior to the summer program and to dive deeper into the topic of my project. My mentor is very knowledgable about statistical analysis and so she helped me a lot with my work in SPSS. She was and is not only a great guide for me during my time here with SROP, but also helped me with academic questions. I was able to ask her questions about graduate school and learned about some great schools from her.

Judgment Bias in Evaluative Situations - Maria Senf


To give you an update on my project with SROP, it is going very well and I can’t wait to see my final results by hopefully the end of this week or the latest by next week. My mentor and I just met this week but will meet again this Thursday to finalize the results and look once again at the data analysis. I am very excited to see the outcomes of this project and hope we will get some significant results. I can definitely say that without my mentor I would have never learned as much as I did during our 8 week program with SROP. She was a great guide from the start until the end and supported me whenever I needed help or answers to my questions. Regarding my project progress, my poster and my oral presentation are almost done and I only miss the results and conclusions. Let’s cross fingers and hope for a successful end of this week!



A Summer Full of Research

This summer has been incredible so far. I can definitely say that I have learned a lot about research because of all the great activities and workshops with the SROP program. Having such good guidance from my mentor Dr. Santuzzi and her graduate student, I am learning so much more about the research process and can deepen my knowledge with the data analysis tool SPSS. My favorite activity this summer was our retreat weekend at Lorado Taft. This was an amazing weekend full of team activities and workshops around research. I liked the idea of spending 3 days in the woods and enjoying the nature around Oregon/Illinois. We did not only play games and had a campfire with S’mores, but also learned about preparing for our elevator pitch. This was an essential part of our summer research program as it helped us to strengthen our communication skills in front of a group. We learned how to communicate our own research project to the audience, which was very useful for conversations about our research in general. Telling somebody about my project in under one minute is not always easy but can be practiced over time. The workshop at Taft gave me a great insight into important techniques and prepared me well for my final presentation in 3 weeks.

Maria Senf at Lorado Taft

Lorado Taft

As a researcher, I have not only strengthened my previous learned skills with the Research Rookies program and my work as the research assistant at the University of Chicago, but also learned new skills that are important for the research process overall. Before, I have only learned about SPSS in a fast paced way through my laboratory class in Psychology, but during my research with SROP I had the chance to dive even deepen into this tool. So far, I have cleaned data and just started with the data analysis with the help of my lab’s graduate student. As a professional, I have learned how to present myself in a professional way as SROP encourages us to always dress professionally. By having a new mentor for the summer, I made an important connection that I am so happy for. We work very well together and I hope we can also continue this work in the future.

Maria Senf at Nachusa

Nachusa Grassland

NIU offers students many useful resources that can help the individual to even greater success while being in college. During this summer, I was happy to learn more about what the library has to offer and where to find journal articles that fit my research topic. One of our workshops in the library gave us an interesting insight into the search for the right article. Also, I liked the academic advising we received from NIU and our advisors. Different workshops around leadership and good writing skills introduced us to important resources on campus, such as the Leadership Academy. Those resources among others will help me in my upcoming year as a senior at NIU. As I will be working on my senior thesis, I will need to look for more peer reviewed articles that I can get from the library. Academic advising will be important this year when I will start my application process for graduate school. Having had the opportunity to work with two different mentors in Psychology, I will have the chance to learn more about this process from them.

Research – The Key to Success

If I could tell a junior or senior in high school about opportunities in college, I could not even stop talking. Especially research programs, such as SROP, open young university students the door to their future success, be it personally or professionally. Having the chance to look at one’s major more closely through working in a laboratory opens so many doors.

Before I started working in the lab, I only knew about my major in Psychology through my course work. Everything was based on theoretical aspects but I was not able to experience the subject matter through hands-on experience. I had no idea how the world of research actually looked like. My first step into the laboratory with the Research Rookies program opened my eyes for psychological research. I was now able to put learned theory into practice. Things that I learned in my cognitive, social or personality psychology classes made more sense now.

Maria in the lab

Me in the lab

I can say the same about SROP. The 8-week long summer research program provides me with an opportunity that I have not had in my life before. I am now able to build on my previous research experience in my year with Research Rookies and can learn even more about IRB, data collection, data cleaning, analysis, poster creation and oral presentations. Even though I have learned a lot about research already, there is always more to explore. I have not had the chance before to present my research in form of an oral presentation. This summer, I will have the chance to do so with my current project Judgment Bias in Evaluative Situations. I am very excited what my data analysis via SPSS will bring this week.

All in all, research programs like SROP have effected my college experience to a great extent. I cannot thank The Office of Student Engagement and Experimental Learning from Northern Illinois University enough for the amazing opportunities they have provided me with throughout my undergraduate career. I am so thankful for my Research Rookies experience and SROP this summer. My fall will be filled with my work on my honors thesis and my work as an Undergraduate Research Assistant in the Occupational Health & Stress Laboratory of Dr. Larissa Barber. Once again we will be working on my project from last year and elaborate on our findings. This will be a year full of adventures and most important of all, a learning experience.

At Dr. Baker's house, NIU president

At Dr. Baker’s house, NIU president

I have to say that programs like SROP affected my college experience at NIU in a way that made me grow so much. I have not only learned so much about Psychology overall, but specifically about the research process that will be even more important in graduate school. Starting early with research showed me the path I would like to go in the future. Without programs like SROP and Research Rookies, I would have never met such wonderful mentors like Dr. Barber and Dr. Santuzzi who are such amazing advisors along my way. I learned a great deal about research but also about being more professional and prepared for graduate school. Applying to a PhD or master program is not always easy, but with their help I feel so much more confident and ready to take the next step.

This being said, I would recommend every new student in college to start with research as soon as possible. I have always told new freshman at NIU to look into the different undergraduate research opportunities that NIU offers them. Being part of this unique community from the beginning can open the individual doors that would have otherwise been closed until they reached graduate school.