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The learning curve

Linguistics study to be published

By Aubree DeVisser | Contributor

Earlier this month, professor of modern languages A. Chin Chang and his research team traveled to Austin, Texas where they presented a research paper at the conference of the Texas Linguistic Society. Being the only undergraduate team there, Chang was extremely proud when the paper was chosen to be published as part of a volume of other published papers.

The team, including Greta Kiers, senior Anna Meyer and juniors Han Chang and Won Chang researched the idea of vocabulary learning for a year and a half before A. Chin Chang received a grant to attend this conference.

“As children, we learn very naturally, which is different from the way we learn vocabulary as adults,” Kiers said. “We’re comparing and seeing what methods of teaching and learning are most effective for adults.”

Using Taylor students as guinea pigs, the team was able to conclude that adults learn vocabulary differently from children and proceeded to bring this data to the conference.

Juniors Won and Han Chang, senior Anna Meyer, Greta Kiers, and A. Chin Chang attend the Texas Linguistics Society conference and represented Taylor in Texas. (Photograph provided by A. Chin Chang)

Juniors Won and Han Chang, senior Anna Meyer, Greta Kiers, and A. Chin Chang attend the Texas Linguistics Society conference and represented Taylor in Texas. (Photograph provided by A. Chin Chang)

Kiers admits the team was nervous to present, as they were competing against people looking to get their doctorates and others who already had theirs. Previously, the team was rejected by other publishers, so they were unsure of the conference’s outcome. However, according to Kiers, the audience was receptive and open to their research.

“The experience was invaluable. It gave me a glimpse into the world of post-undergraduate academia and has given me much to think about as to the direction of my career and future pursuits,” senior Spanish education major Meyer said.

Both A. Chin Chang and Kiers explained that these research opportunities should be encouraged and offered more at Taylor. The students involved were able to acquire real-life experience and showcase their hard work. A. Chin Chang said it is something Taylor should work on as a higher education institution.

Kiers shared the team couldn’t have done it without the help of Taylor faculty. Professor of sociology Steve Bird helped to compile and interpret data. Research Librarian Lana Wilson assisted the team in beginning the project and Director of the Office of Sponsored Programs Sue Gavin supported them by pulling the presentation all together and putting the fine details in place.

According to A. Chin Chang, this is something new for the department. He intends to continue to offer these opportunities and has already applied for another grant. Chang also plans to hire three students to be involved in this research experience next year, if Taylor supports it.

The University of Austin will be publishing the research paper in December on their website as well as in their newspaper.

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