Meet Our Students

Personal Narrative of Lisa Cole

When I began to put my off-campus project together, I knew that I wanted to take on a project that I could apply to my own classroom when I became a teacher. I decided to stay within the United States. I had always wanted to see what Denver, Colorado, was like, so I focused my attention on that area. My emails received many replies, which proved difficult to choose from.

I choose the Castro Elementary project, headed up by Professor Steven Zucker. Mr. Zucker lent me a laptop and put me in charge of data entry. There were marking period grades, test scores, and questionnaire answers from eight different classrooms at Castro elementary that I had to log into my laptop.

I met regularly with Mr. Zucker and Castro's school psychologist, Joe Dionne, to discuss the research and the findings. Questionnaires were the basis for our data collection on social interaction. There was a set of 24 questions that the students answered at the beginning of the year based on their assumptions and observations of their classmates. Some topics included ‘who do you think gets good grades,’ ‘who has a lot of friends,’ ‘who would you most like to sit by,’ ‘who is a bad leader,’ etc. For each question, they would write down the names of three students that they thought fit that profile. Each child in each classroom was assigned a number, but not told what their number was.

Joe would meet with each class about once a week to discuss the results from the questionnaires using the student numbers. Midway through the year, the students were told what their number was. After this, the students made social and academic goals for themselves. In the spring, a questionnaire was given asking if they had reached their goals and if the intervention had helped them.

Throughout the year, Steven and Joe had been videotaping the intervention sessions
that Joe had had with the students. In my meetings with them, we looked over and edited the videos. Our goal was to make a video to be used as a model at other schools for this type of intervention.

I walked away from this this project with a lot of data and a knowledge of data programming. However, my trip involved much more than data entry. I looked on line to find classifieds for housing from the local newspapers in Denver. After many calls, I was going to be staying in a condo with two other women. The biggest challenge in finding a place was the fact that I would only be there for two months. Come to find out, about two weeks before I was to depart, my leaser canceled. As luck would have it though, I found an even better place, a house with just one roommate. When I arrived in Colorado, I was excited at the prospect of being far away from home and having to depend on myself for survival and entertainment. I cooked, cleaned, did my own laundry, went grocery shopping, etc. I was glad that I had a roommate; otherwise I would have gone without furniture, kitchen supplies, and a TV! I also took the opportunity to travel throughout the state of Colorado and even into Utah to the Zion National Park. I met many new people and made lifelong friends. It was such a unique experience to be able to hike in the mountains and camp. I also volunteered for the Salvation Army during the wildfires. If I had to do it again, I would in a heartbeat. I got to see a totally different part of our country, and learn about a topic in education that I can apply to my career. In the short time of just two months, I was able to fit a lot in, although looking back, I wish my stay had been longer. I want to thank the Honors Program for giving me this opportunity. A few people commented on how impressive it was that I had taken the initiative to make contacts, plan, and get myself out there all on my own. I must say that it was quite a learning experience, one that I am grateful for, and I will definitely take the skills that I have gained from this into my everyday life.