Past & Future Plans

My research has been going well so far. My plan is to finish up data collection by mid March and start and finalize data cleaning and analysis by the end of the month. Even though we have collected a good amount of data already, we are still missing some more participants to achieve better results in the end. Unfortunately, the number of participants in the lab has decreased over the weeks and so far we have not been able to reach our goal of 90 participants yet. Nevertheless, I am very positive about my data collection and I believe that even with a smaller amount of participants we will be able to see some good results. Other steps that I will take in order to ensure finishing my research in time for Undergraduate Research & Artistry Day is to implement my results into my poster by the end of March. After I have all the results, it is only a matter of time to integrate these into the result section of my poster.

The reception at President Baker and Dr. Stover’s home on March 2nd was wonderful and a great experience for me to network with peers, professors and even the hosts themselves. It was a great time to catch up with others and even meet new faces. I was able to tell some other mentors about my own project, which was a good way to practice for my poster presentation at URAD. The Research Rookies Program has helped me grow as a student and professionally this academic year (2014-15) by giving me the role as a peer mentor. Instead of just working on my own project, I was now even able to share my previous research experience and knowledge that I have gained over time with my small group of new Research Rookies. This provided me with an excellent leadership opportunity and made me develop and practice my mentoring skills. Research Rookies helped me achieve your academic and career goals by introducing me to research and the laboratory of Dr. Larissa Barber. Here, I gained essential knowledge about the research process and learned about how to be and act more professional. Dr. Barber made me find my true passion for Industrial/Organizational Psychology. She was the one who told me about the M.A. program at Elmhurst College where I will be starting the two-year part-time program in the fall. I am very thankful for this opportunity!

Continued Success

Working with my faculty mentor Dr. Barber has been amazing and also this year I love to work with her! My favorite thing about working with my mentor is that I feel to be in great hands. She is very well organized and knows exactly what she is doing. Whenever I have a question or concerns, Dr. Barber always has an open ear and provides me with good advice. I am so thankful for everything she has done for me over the past 1,5 years. She was the one who made me fall in love with research, especially sleep research. She was the one who brought up the idea for me to apply to Elmhurst College, which already excepted me for a master in I/O Psychology for the fall. Dr. Barber has taught me what it means to be professional and what it takes to become a good researcher.

My research is going very well! Even though we had a little throwback through the snow day this week, we were able to have all participants come back to the lab for their follow-up study. I was first concerned about missing out on a new opportunity to collect more data, but with the help of my lab this week I was able to get back on track with my project. I cannot thank them enough for all their help and support! Thank you!

Maria Senf as a peer mentor

My work as a peer mentor

I am looking forward to a great summer! Even though I will miss my time here at NIU and in the lab, I cannot wait to start a new chapter of my life. After my graduation in May, I am planning on starting a full-time job in July. I am currently applying for HR jobs in the Chicago area and I hope I will find a position and a team that I like to work with. This will give me about two months before I start graduate school to get familiarized with my new job.

My last semester as a peer leader for Research Rookies was great. I loved mentoring the first year Research Rookies and guiding them along their way with their own project. It was exciting for me to see how much they grew over time and how much my advise helped them to succeed and learn. I believe that I have and developed many strengths as a peer mentor over the past semester. I am good at communicating with my Research Rookies fellows. We all get along very well and share the same major which makes it even easier for us to connect. I cannot think of any weaknesses for now as I have gotten very good feedback from my small group. I will challenge myself this semester by improving our monthly meeting in the small group in having small activities that will make the students even more excited for their own projects. Especially this semester it is very important for us to focus on how to create and present a poster. During our meetings, I would like to discuss and practice this with the students.

Back to Reality

My research is going well and even though data collection was disrupted by Winter break, I am very positive about my work. So far, I am on track with my time line and do not see any issues. Before break, we already had more than 30 participants in the lab and we hope to get 70 more this semester. First, I was a little worried that I could not start data collection until the third week of classes because of MLK Day but I am sure that especially in the beginning of the semester, many first-year students want to earn extra credit and participate in many studies at that time. Overall, I cannot wait to continue data collection and see where my research goes. This is an exciting process, especially with me graduating this spring. With my Honors Thesis on top of this I am extra excited to make this project a full success. Two research conferences are waiting for me this semester and I look forwarded to presenting in front of a new crowd of people.

As always, I am learning a lot this year as I am getting more and more involved with SPSS. As I am getting closer and closer to starting graduate school, SPSS and statistics are important parts of my education. This knowledge helps me to understand my data and makes me excited when I see that my results are actually significant. I hope to be able to have the number of participants at the end of the semester that we are aiming for. Research can never be predicted but I am sure it will work out one way or the other.

Maria Senf

When I compare my second year in Research Rookies with my first one, I can definitely see change and improvement in my work. When I first started, I was not sure what to expect and how many doors research will open me. It has been an incredible year and I cannot thank my mentor Dr. Barber enough for all her support and advise. Without her and our graduate student Sarah, I would have never gotten this far in my research. It is hard to believe that I have only been involved with research for about 1,5 years because it seems much longer. Research Rookies made all of these things possible and even more. I believe that this program and the research I started was my stepping stone to a new world. It made me ready for graduate school and feel prepared for more things to come. I am excited to start a new chapter of my life in the fall.

One piece of advice I would give all the first-year students in this program is to constantly keep growing and asking questions. Research Rookies gives you the opportunity to do so but you have to take it to the next level. Be open for new things and change. Be aware that research does not always work out the way you planned it. Organization is another important aspect in order for you to succeed. If you follow the guidelines your mentor gives you, you should be more than prepared to successfully complete your first year in research!

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.

Maria Senf with mentor

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.

Maria Senf & mentor

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!