Erin Horan, a doctoral student in the Department of Educational Psychology, was recently awarded the Barbara Day Laureate Scholarship from Kappa Delta Pi, an international honor society in education that was founded in 1911 to promote fellowship among students dedicated to teaching.
Every year, the scholarship is awarded to a doctoral student whose course of study will impact the practical and theoretic development of curriculum in schools. Horan's approved program prospectus—a requirement of the scholarship—highlights the core of her research in applied cognition and development.
"I had a voicemail from the KDP president letting me know that I had won the award," she said. "I wasn't sure if I would stand out with all of the applicants, so I was definitely excited to win the scholarship."
This upcoming fall semester, Horan will start collecting data at two Barrow County elementary schools to determine where guidance should be placed in the classroom. She will be teaching kindergarten students how to count with objects, like pennies, to help them learn new mathematical concepts and assess just how much help they need from teachers.
Her study will involve a pretest and a posttest, as well as a weeklong intervention to allow for shifts in guidance among certain groups of students.
When comparing values, Horan will see how fast it will take for students to understand that one number's value is larger than the other. With high guidance, she will point out which value is larger, whereas with low guidance, she will let the children figure out the problem themselves. The guidance level all depends on how quickly the children pick up some of the more abstract ideas.
"I think what's going to happen is that the kids who score higher on the pretest will probably be better with less guidance because they just pick those things up," she said. "Whereas other kids might need the guidance."
Horan graduated from Stony Brook University in New York with both a bachelor's and a master's degree in psychology. Last semester, she served as the secretary of KDP's Beta Kappa chapter at the University of Georgia.
After she graduates in the spring of 2016, Horan will continue her research as a college professor in cognitive development with a focus on how students learn mathematics. Her research interests include learning with mathematics manipulatives, instructional guidance, strategy use during problem solving and metacognition.