New College of Florida, Sarasota, FL
Major: Neurodiversity Studies BS
Beck’s major (Neurodiversity Studies) was developed together with their professor, a neuroscientist. They were most interested in disability rights of students with learning disabilities. Beck is gathering information on the effects these disabilities have on cognition and learning. Under the mentorship of Drs. Scott Franklin and Tony Wong, they are searching for data showing the socio-cultural lens being used to determine how people are viewed when discussing normality or neuro typical, as opposed to those within the range of neuro-diversity (outside what is considered the norm).
When asked how Beck first become interested in science, they answered that their grandparents on their dad’s side were both biologists. As early as age seven, they became interested in reading—especially looking at drawings and scientific concepts. Beck recalls liking the scholastic book fair at school, science classes, and experiential aspects of building things. Their mom is a medical doctor, so they grew up with a familiarity of scientific fields, specifically medicine, which Beck is now interested in and ultimately looking at medical school.
Beck has a strong concern for the way education is carried out in middle schools, disliking the focus on grades, requirements, and performance and less on the actual learning and exploration. They feel students don’t have the opportunity to grow. Although Beck sees the good in education, they do feel frustrated with some of the ways in which learning is measured. They were a peer tutor for math and writing in high school, and often felt pep talks were a huge part of their role.Beck’s interest in metacognition and understanding student perspectives on their learning experiences led to the research opportunity at RIT this summer. Their college advisor helped them look into options of combining science with education/education policy. When Beck met the mentors, they got the sense they would be people they would enjoy working alongside.
Their summer research focuses on quantitative data focusing on student success and persistence of RIT undergraduates over the years. Data such as GPAs, demographics, course enrollment, student retention, and graduation rates are all considered. Additional contributing factors are examined, such as pathways for taking courses required first, later, or a combo of those courses, and flexibility of courses outside one’s major. Beck is interested in assessing whether the order affects success rates.
“Working remotely has challenges in our social connection and understanding of the research each person is doing. However, Dr. Franklin does a good job at connecting us.”