Research Projects by SMU School of Social Sciences undergraduates clinch five awards
SMU School of Social Sciences (SOSS) students were honoured with five titles at the Student Research Awards (SRA) 2020, which was held online during the pandemic. The awards were clinched by three undergraduates — Nadyanna Binte Mohamed Majeed; Ng Hok Shan, Matthew; and Verity Lua Yu Qing — who submitted their research in the field of Psychology.
First launched in 2014, the annual SRA event is organised by the Singapore Psychological Society to encourage aspiring researchers at the diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate levels to pursue research excellence and expand boundaries in the field of Psychology.
Lauded for their display of advanced knowledge, two projects conducted by the SMU undergraduates — “Dyslexia and creativity: A meta-analysis” by Nadyanna, and “Musical Experience and Executive Functions: A Latent Variable Approach”, by Nadyanna, Matthew and Verity — took home the first and second places respectively in the Best Research for Undergraduate and Best Quantitative Research categories.
An investigation into the relationship between musical experience and executive functions, “Musical Experience and Executive Functions” also won the Audience Choice Award. The research project was conducted to explore the use of music lessons as an effective way to improve cognitive abilities. Based on a study of 175 young adults, who performed a range of nine tasks, the results revealed no evidence of any relationship between musical experience and latent factors of executive functions in both frequentist and Bayesian structural equation models.
Meanwhile, “Dyslexia and creativity: A meta-analysis” examined whether individuals with dyslexia display higher levels of creativity. Spanning 14 studies of 397 people diagnosed with dyslexia, and 453 control subjects, the results suggest that adults with dyslexia appear to outperform controls in creativity scores, but not youths.
Here are the students behind the award-winning research projects.
Currently a postgraduate student in Psychology at SMU School of Social Sciences, Nadyanna was a final-year undergraduate when she took part in the SRA 2020 both as an individual and as a group member alongside Matthew and Verity.
Having embarked on the group project in May, Nadyanna revealed that time pressure was a big challenge as they had only four months to prepare prior to the SRA submission deadline.
"We definitely couldn't have done this without the guidance and advice of our supervisor, SOSS’ Assistant Professor of Psychology Andree Hartanto, as well as extremely helpful critiques from Assistant Professor of Psychology Jacinth Tan," she said.
In recognition of her research excellence, Nadyanna has been awarded the MOE postgraduate research scholarship to further her studies. Her research interest lies in studying the impacts of various daily experiences on well-being.
Beyond academia, Nadyanna's passion for animal welfare underscores her active involvement in volunteering and fundraising efforts. She also enjoys being involved in the performing arts, especially choral and acoustic music.
In light of COVID-19 restrictions, Matthew recalled how the team had “experienced many hurdles ensuring everyone is on the same page despite not being able to meet face to face but nevertheless, managed to do SMU proud by winning awards at the SRA”.
Currently a senior year Psychology major at SMU, Matthew hopes to pursue clinical psychology in the future. He has been a research assistant since his sophomore year, and has helped out with research in various domains including Affective Well-being, Cultural and Cognitive Psychology.
Besides breaking new ground in research, Matthew is also an avid Ultimate Frisbee player. He has had the opportunity to represent SMU at the collegiate level and even had chance to represent Arizona State University while on his study abroad program.
Leveraging upon her research expertise, Verity is currently a student researcher in SMU, and an intern in the international research project, International iPreschooler Surveillance Study Among Asians and otheRs (IISSAAR).
From conducting lab sessions and studies, coding data to co-authoring several research papers, Verity has accumulated a wealth of experience even as a junior undergraduate, and was placed on the Dean’s List for her outstanding academic achievement in 2019/2020.
“The process of creating a work for this award has deepened my understanding about psychological research” said Verity.
“Having to present our research to people from all walks of life also taught me how to make academic research accessible to everyone including lay people.”