Gina Rappleye

1. What is your specific area of research (include the name of your faculty and/or laboratory)?
I am involved in research concerning the areas of language and reading. My advisor in this area of research for the past two years is Professor Virginia Mann of the Cognitive Science department. My specific area of study focuses on different cognitive abilities integral to reading ability and comprehension. Some of these abilities include phonological awareness and working memory. I am also currently studying attitudes associated with these different levels of reading ability and comprehension. In discovering what contributes effectively to a person’s ability to read, better techniques of teaching children to read, as well as helping adult readers, may be developed and employed in schools.
2. When and how did you first get involved in research?

During my sophomore year at UCI, I had Professor Mann for a class and became interested in her area of research. After speaking with her about her current projects, she gave me the opportunity to participate in a study she was conducting at that time. After learning a tremendous amount with that initial study, I was able to begin my own research project under her direction. Due to being granted funding from UROP, I received the invaluable experience of designing and conducting my own study. This has aided me greatly in the current undertakings of my thesis, in which I have been able to employ everything that I have learned over the past two years in the completion of a year long project of my own.

3. How has research enhanced you education?

The tools I have gained conducting research have created an educational environment that will aid me in my accomplishments for the rest of my life. The experience of studying a subject in depth, designing an experiment, analyzing and collecting data, analytically dealing with triumphs and shortfalls, following through to completion, and putting it altogether in the end, is something that has defined my university experience. The level of understanding and involvement attained through conducting research is something that is impossible to acquire through an average structured class, but has enabled me to view with a deeper perspective when introduced to any subject matter. The experience of critically thinking and interpreting data has allowed me to go beyond merely learning, and to be truly engaged in my endeavors.

4. What has been you favorite experience with research (include any interesting stories or specific events)?

My favorite aspect of my research has been designing my own materials and seeing them produce interesting results. This year, while conducting my thesis project, I was able to delve into past research similarly conducted in this area, and develop my own materials appropriate for the issues I am investigating. The first run of statistics on my data was nerve racking, the moment of truth when I could receive the ultimate validation for all my countless hours of work. I have gained some results that I expected and some that were not expected, but all interesting. This has led to the most exciting part of all . . . interpreting all of the results I have obtained, and knowing what an incredible experience I have received through this endeavor.

5. What are your future plans and how has being involved in research helped to prepare you to meet your goals?

I plan to go on to graduate school after completing my undergraduate degrees in Cognitive Science and Philosophy. Research has given me skills that I can take with me for the rest of my life. I am now able to think more critically, view things more analytically, work harder, and view the larger picture along with the little things. I am now more confident in my own abilities, and have a true desire to not only continue my education, but to also play an active role in the learning process.

6. What advice would you give to a student interested in pursuing a faculty-mentored undergraduate research project or creative activity?

I would definitely recommend pursuing research as an undergraduate. The experiences and relationships you achieve are things that you will never grasp by merely taking required classes. Look into faculty who work in an area you are interested in, and talk with them! This is the best way to discover where it is you will be happiest and who you will feel the most comfortable working with. Research can be what makes your university experience truly worthwhile, as well as paving the way for a future career.

Past Researchers of the Month

Dec. '99 Gina Rappleye
Nov. '99 Maria Rendon
Oct. '99 Scott Avecilla
Sep. '99 Peter Krutzik
Aug. '99 Raj Gopalakrishnan
Jul. '99 Christina Rahn
Jun. '99 Catharine Larsen
May '99 Han Kang
Apr. '99 Bonnie Pau
Mar. '99 Sharla Meeks
Feb. '99 Simin Bahrami
Jan. '99 Catherine Le
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