The Ohio State University at Marion

Ohio State Marion junior presents at child development conference

Monday, April 1, 2019

Junior psychology major Nathan Baker is making the most of his undergraduate experience at Ohio State Marion. The Mount Gilead, Ohio native recently returned from presenting at one of the biggest developmental psychology conferences in the world, the Society for Research on Childhood Development conference in Baltimore, Maryland.

An undergraduate student taking part in research is somewhat unique. What makes Baker’s experience at the three day conference even more impactful is that he is one of three co-authors of the research study he is presenting. He is also one of a handful of participants presenting at the conference that are not part of a master’s program, or have Ph.D. after their name.

Baker presented a study co-authored by Dr. Nikole Patson and Dr. Laura Wagner entitled, “Informal learning in a museum setting; a case study with language science.”

Baker believes his research on informal ways to teach science is relevant because after a person completes their formal education, most people mainly get information about science from settings like museums and the media.

“My work looked at how we can more effectively use places like science museums to teach people about science,” said Baker.

“Specifically, we took one activity that is used at COSI (Center of Science and Industry in Columbus, Ohio) to teach people about the science of language and examined how people interact with the activity, and what they learn from it,” he explained.

One of the initial findings form the research, Baker shared, was that when people focus on the sensation and feeling of the activity, they are more likely to remember the core message of the activity correctly.

Baker said, “we can use this finding to restructure how we design these games to use sensation as a starting point for helping people connect science to their own life.”

“Participating in this conference was an excellent opportunity for Nathan to broaden his professional network,” said his faculty mentor, research co-author and Ohio State Marion Associate Professor of Psychology, Dr. Nikole Patson.

“This will be important for him as he pursues his goal of going to graduate school,” she added.

“We are grateful for the travel funds provided by the Honors Program on the Marion campus that funded Nathan's trip.”

Baker, who aspires to work in the field of industrial/organizational psychology, shared that the opportunity to conduct and present his research at such a prestigious conference would not only help in terms of preparation for grad school, but will be instrumental in his future career.

“It gives you a glimpse of what it’s actually like to be in that career,” said Baker. “It’s also huge in terms of presenting and connecting with other researchers. It gives you people to bounce ideas off of and network with,” he added.

The Society for Research in Child Development is a membership association that advances developmental science and promotes its use to improve human lives.