After a restful winter break I jumped back into the swing of things in January by taking Social Psychology. This class explored social phenomena and largely how our environment impacts the things we do. Social Psychology was awesome but it was once again a dive into the realization of how hard it is to actually “know” something. A lot of our assignments focused on explaining a social event (like the London riots) through the lens of social psychology. There’s no denying that social mechanisms were at play during this event but diagnosing them after the fact can be haphazard at best.
My next month consisted of an incredibly amazing class that was totally unrelated to my question: Winter Hazards. Rather than retelling all the details of this class I’ll link you to the blog I wrote about it: Winter Hazards.
After being out in the wilderness for a month I came back into civilization to take a class called Religion beyond Reason. I was hoping this class would get me back into the religious mindset since I’d been focusing a lot on the psychology half of my question. Unfortunately the class turned out to be quite a bit different than expected and focused more on the philosophy of emotion rather than religion. After two days in the class I decided to switch classes for the first time in my Quest career and enter Sports Psychology. Overall, Sports Psychology was a great class because it gave me a great research experience and another way to think about things. For more see: Sports Psychology.
After I took Statistics in April I was still at a loss for what do for a Keystone project. I had certainly thought about a variety of ideas but I was running in to the same issues that I did in the Research Methods class. All the research I was looking into related to my question was fairly shallow or there just wasn’t a lot of it. On top of this, after my teaching experience in May (Teaching Statistics), I wasn’t even sure research was the way I wanted to go. If I planned on being a teacher eventually it might have made sense to do something more related to that field. I debated doing what some other students had before and create a course syllabus for a class that would be related to my question. I was hesitant to do this though because as I explained to my dad, this would be a bit like training with a soccer team but never getting to play in a game. Planning is a very necessary part of teaching but it is nowhere near as fun as actually teaching. If I was going to put in the hard work of planning classes I at least wanted to get the chance to teach a few as well.
During this time, I had also been exploring other academic avenues and somehow landed back onto the topic of memory. I was interested in doing a study looking at how people thought of random words and the research in this area was incredibly complex and not all that interesting. In the course of this research I found the book “Working Memory, Thought, and Action” by Alan Baddeley. This book turned out to be a classic exploration of working memory from a very famous researcher in the field. The details of working memory captured my attention and I thought I might finally have found something I could pursue. With a stroke of insight, I thought about teaching workshops related to memory in my fourth year. I went to my mentor with this idea and she suggested I make the theme of my workshops how to improve memory, and working memory in particular. Right now my research question is: How can a theoretical understanding of memory help us improve our own memories?
My third year was a long and exciting journey and I’m excited to see what my last year at Quest has to offer!