Winner of the The Innovation Scholarship for Student Research

Zehra Kamal Alam

Zehra Kamal Alam

Poster Title: Terrorism and Political Violence: Parent’s Perceptions of the Impact on Pakistani Children of a Minority Christian Community

Learn more about this poster here.






Winner of the People's Choice Award

Jonthon Coulson

Jonthon Coulson

Poster Title: Seafaring Nomads, Sedentary Schooling: Hurdles along the Pathway to Human Flourishing?

Learn more about this poster here.








Congratulations to our winners! We were happy to once again partner with Student Senate this year in presenting TC students and their research during our Closing Networking Reception. Learn more about our other finalists below.


Zehra Kamal Alam (M.A. ’19)
Counseling and Clinical Psychology; Psychology of Education
Poster Title: Terrorism and Political Violence: Parent’s Perceptions of the Impact on Pakistani Children of a Minority Christian Community


This qualitative study explored Christian parents’ perceptions of the impact of political violence/terrorism on their children aged 8-15 years, living in Lahore, Pakistan. Fifteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with 13 mothers and 8 fathers who self-identified as Christians. Participants were recruited through convenient sampling method. The IRB at the Teachers College approved this study in 2018. A thematic framework of analysis was used with a deductive method of inquiry. Being present at the site of the incident, physical injury or loss contributed towards children being more affected. School-related problems, missing the deceased, and worries about their parent’s wellbeing are additional effects seen by parents in children who suffered injuries or the loss of a sibling. Gender dimension of the loss, parental reactions and economic implications formed a close nexus with these experiences of loss. Specifically with regard to children, fear and avoidance of public places came up as a common theme, with children experiencing more internalizing problems than externalizing ones. Disruption of school activities post incident and poor academic performance pre incident have been identified in previous studies as possible factors affecting academic activities. This study highlighted factors such as inability to pay attention, sense of insecurity, school refusal and household expenses taking priority. Children’s inability to accept death and their attachment with their sibling contributed towards their increased vulnerability while taking responsibility was identified, as being protective. The findings provide insight into the role of parents, extended family, and religious beliefs in helping children cope. Other strategies included primary and secondary control coping. The design of the qualitative study limits drawing any conclusions about age, gender and causal relationships between the different identified themes. Future research is suggested directly with children to get in-depth understanding of the influence, mediating and moderating role of religion, parent-child relationship on children’s reactions and coping.


Veronica M. Bohorquez (M.A. ’19)
International & Transcultural Studies; International Educational Development
Poster Title: Measuring the Impact of Career Services for Latinx Full Time Students towards College Graduation


The opportunity to obtain a degree in higher education in the United States is pertinent to professional mobility and prosperous economic development (Latino et al., 2018). Currently, the Latinx population in the United States is the fastest growing minority with 58 million in the United States (Flores, 2017). However, the Latinx demographic is the largest ethnic minority with the lowest rate of college completion, only 16.4% of Hispanics have earned a Bachelor’s degree or higher (U.S. Census Bureau, 2016). The disparate graduation rates amongst major populations in the United States can lead to a labor force unfit to maintain a healthy economy and weaken national development. Higher education participation alone expands the opportunity for individuals, including Latinx, first generation and other underrepresented groups to advance their socioeconomic status and thus create a balance for societal equality (Nuñez & Sansone, 2016). Previous research has identified determiners of predicting college completion, including quality of secondary schooling and curricula (Nuñez & Kim, 2011). However, little work has been done to investigate linkages between nonacademic resources and Latinx college completion. Therefore, this paper will utilize the social cognitive career theory framework to uncover fundamentals between the role of career services and Latinx student usage. Since the role of career services at undergraduate institutions are to assist in professional development and career navigation (Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 1994) – this paper will refer to SCCT models which focus on cognitive variables including beliefs of self-efficacy, outcome expectations, personal goals, and environmental support. Sources will include evaluating survey responses from participants whom have graduated, and descriptive statistics on private and public institutions in the United States addressing retention, graduation, and enrollment rates. Using a mixed methods approach, the paper will evaluate institutional reports and feedback from personnel in the field of career services, to help depict the climate between how Latinx students manage challenges and adopt to college resources to succeed. It is with our efforts that this data can provide insight on how career services and outreach can be improved to institute new talent and growth to close the gap on Latinx college graduation.


Joanne Choi (M.A. ’20)
Arts and Humanities; Teaching of English--Initial Certification (Grades 7-12)
Poster Title: Uncovering the Model Minority Narrative: A Case Study on AAPI Students in High-Achieving Secondary Schools


Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) students, particularly in “elite” secondary schools such as Stuyvesant High School and Bergen County Academies, often face pressures to adhere to societal expectations of high academic achievement based on the “model minority” myth. Due to possible pre-existing expectations from educators for high performance, AAPI students may be negatively affected by potentially harmful, implicit bias. Assuming a singular identity for AAPI students conceals their struggles and may consequently minimize their unique stories into a homogeneous, deindividualized narrative as opposed to acknowledging the possibility of multiple lived narratives, resulting in invisibilization in their learning communities and unawareness by educators of best pedagogical practices to address students’ distinct needs and challenges. Guided by the theoretical frameworks of critical race theory and culturally responsive pedagogy, my research will attempt to devise potential methods for educators to identify and address AAPI students’ unique struggles and challenges, often unexposed due to the implications of AAPI-specific stereotype. Specifically, I am interested in studying the relationship between ethnographic/home backgrounds of students and the development of possible educational challenges as well as emphasis placed on education. A concerning dearth of research exists surrounding critical race theory in secondary education for AAPI students in comparison to the existing and developing theories for African American and Latino/Hispanic students. Increased awareness of the cultural experiences and perspectives of AAPI students would enable educators to create more inclusive learning spaces for all students, address potential misconceptions surrounding AAPI students due to implicit biases, and respond appropriately to these challenges in the form of culturally responsive pedagogical practices. My research design includes a distribution of an anonymous online questionnaire for secondary AAPI students at Stuyvesant High School and Bergen County Academies, two high-performing, entrance exam-based schools. I will also facilitate in-depth individualized interviews for several students. Through developing greater cultural proficiency, educators will be better equipped to support all students and effectively teach in classrooms with diverse learners from multiple socio-cultural backgrounds.


Jonthon Coulson (Ed.D. ’21)
Curriculum & Teaching; Curriculum Studies
Poster Title: Seafaring Nomads, Sedentary Schooling: Hurdles along the Pathway to Human Flourishing?


For centuries, the nomadic Bajau people have sailed the seas between what we refer to as Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines on houseboats of their own construction. Adept sustenance divers, they forage the sea floor for trepang, fish, black coral, pearls, and more, often spending over 60% of their working day underwater. On a single breath, the best among them can reach depths of 70 feet, stay submerged for five minutes, and see twice as well as we can (Lane 2011, BBC One 2018). These superhuman abilities have been learned and transferred intergenerationally, leading to genetic adaptations allowing them to survive and thrive amphibiously (Ilardo 2018). The Bajau are living proof that human natural selection processes are still underway.

They are now also being selected to receive educational aid by nations and NGOs. Indonesia, as a United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) signator, has committed to providing primary education for all children. In practice, this has entailed mass sedentarization and enrollment of Bajau children in state schools staffed by non-Bajau teachers implementing a national curriculum neither group was involved in writing.

Governments frequently use education to gain control over nomadic people via spatial, social, and cultural manipulation (Meir 1986, Noor 2012). Even the seemingly benign act of building schools, when intended for moving people, can be hegemonic and epistemicidal.

Nomads and refugees, among the most marginalized social groups in this globalized era, expose tension between two otherwise-agreeable maxims: that all children have a right to a quality education, and that all cultures are valuable and deserving of respect.

Is "Education For All" a new kind of colonialism, a safeguarding of the human right to education...or both? How can the harm posed by education be mitigated? How do educators assigned to teach Bajau people learn about, respond to, and sustain their students' culture?

By ethnographically studying the life experiences of a South Sulawesi Bajau community sedentarized a decade ago, I will explore their conceptions of education, how they make use of state schooling, and how they adapt cultural knowledge necessary for maritime survival to life on land.


John Terry Dundon (M.A. ’19)
Arts & Humanities; Applied Linguistics
Poster Title: Analyzing Conversation Practices in the Endangered Rushani Language


Understanding commonalities of interactional practices across vastly different cultural settings has the potential to inform both intercultural communication and second language pedagogy.

To this end, this study analyzes conversation practices in an unwritten and endangered language, Rushani, which is spoken primarily in remote, mountainous areas of Tajikistan and Afghanistan. It does so through “conversation analysis,” an approach for unpacking interactional practices used in applied linguistics. Three telephone conversations among native Rushani speakers were recorded, transcribed (using the International Phonetic Alphabet), and translated. Analysis of the form and function of each conversation turn was then conducted, with particular focus on the call openings.

Examples were sought in these conversations of the four opening sequences of telephone calls that have been identified in calls conducted in other languages: summons-answer; identification-recognition; greetings; and initial inquiries. At first glance, Rushani telephone conversation openings appear to skip over greetings and move directly into an extended exchange of initial inquiries. However, upon closer analysis, it is argued that a Rushani word that literally translates as “How are you,” is in fact used by participants as a greeting. So, despite their apparent form as inquiries, the greetings these Rushani conversations serve the same function and resolve the same interactional issues as those in other languages.

These results are then linked to a broader debate between the “universalist” position of conversation analysis, which posits a common framework for conversations across all languages, and “particularistic” positions, which acknowledge various degrees of culturally-driven variation; this test case seems to support the universalist position. As an additional implication of this study, this time for second language pedagogy, it is argued that telephone conversation openings should be taught as a discrete topic. It is a language task that is both intimidating for the learner, and a vital component of basic communicative competence.

This initial study is described in “‘tsɑrɑŋ?’ - Telephone Conversation Openings in the Rushani Language”, to be published in the May 2019 issue of Columbia University Studies in Applied Linguistics & TESOL. A follow-up study is planned that will use a larger data set and explore additional interactional issues.


Emma J. Heisler-Murray (M.A. ’20)
Counseling and Clinical Psychology; Clinical Psychology
Poster Title: The Survivor Experience: Memory, Identity, & Self-Worth


With the growth of recent movements like #metoo and Time's Up, sexual assault has become a popular topic. While awareness has increased, there is still much more work to be done within the field of psychological research. Objective: This study aims to investigate the effects sexual assault has on autobiographical memory in relation to survivorhood, PTSD, and satisfaction with life. Method: 45 female students at Sarah Lawrence College ages 18-24, recruited via online student group postings, filled out an online survey that assessed for levels of PTSD, satisfaction with life, significant autobiographical events and memory characteristics of traumatic and non-traumatic experiences. Results: PTSD is significantly higher in survivors than in non-survivors and survivors’ autobiographical memories are significantly more vivid and have more sensory details than those of non-survivors. Conclusion: These results further support findings that sexual assault is correlated with PTSD diagnosis and memory is significantly impacted by such traumatic events. However, not just traumatic memories, but other forms of autobiographical memory are impacted.


Kevin A. Henderson (Ph.D. ’22)
Comparative and International Eduation, Sociology Concentration
Poster Title: Indonesia 4.0: The Fourth Industrial Revolution and Vocational Education Discourse in Indonesian Media


Mention of the coming fourth industrial revolution (4IR) has been pervasive within education and economic policy circles since the term’s introduction at the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) 2016 annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. In Southeast Asia, particularly within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region, governments have responded to the WEF’s framing of the 4IR by racing to develop policy frameworks which reflect on their nation’s readiness for the 4IR and their positioning within the WEF’s 4IR Country Readiness Index. This paper explores the Indonesian media’s framing of country’s readiness for the 4IR, particularly media coverage which emphasizes the need for a hard shift towards vocational or skills-focused higher education. Findings from an analysis of over 100 articles in The Jakarta Post and The Jakarta Globe between 2000 and 2019 indicate a strong relationship between talk of building vocational skills for the 4IR within the Indonesian populace and the policy recommendations of international policy shaping bodies such as the WEF. Conversely, in media coverage where there is less talk about the need for skilling the populace and more about building the domestic higher education system, international policy voices are referenced less. Discussion explores diffusion of the fourth industrial revolution concept into national media discourse, the long-term implications of prioritizing skilling-type education in Indonesia, and whether Indonesia’s turn towards the 4IR can be viewed as a progression of the market reforms initiated by the IMF in the late 1990s.


Jose Ibarra (M.A. ’19)
International and Transcultural Studies; International Education Development
Poster Title: Analysis of Peru’s Education Policy for Internally Displaced Persons


Nearly two decades have passed since the formal end of the warfare between the government and insurgency groups. However, the effects of displacement on rural and indigenous communities remain salient to date. Throughout the years, the Peruvian government has adopted international standards on internal displacement and has introduced a plethora of laws into the national constitution to secure the basic human rights of those affected. Yet, reports indicate that these policies have hitherto produced substandard results in terms of education quality, living conditions and economic growth.


In February of 2017, Peru experienced a series of landslides and floods that affected 1,718,331 people, more than 400,000 of whom were children, by mid-May. Despite the various efforts by international actors and national bodies, these events displaced 295,000 people—marking the worst wave of displacement since the guerilla warfare. This shows that displacement can occur either from violence or natural disaster and that it can happen at any time. As such, it is imperative that we revisit government efforts in place to assist displaced persons and examine
the components that obstruct their overall efficacy.


To inform my study, I’ve conducted desktop research and an extensive literature review from publicly available sources. I’ve gathered both qualitative and quantitative data on internal displacement and incorporated findings from the Ministry of Education in Peru and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center among others. I’ve also translated legal documents that were not be available in English.


The first section describes the history of displacement in Peru and provides a synthesis of victim demographic, key figures and the effects of displacement. I also introduce international standards on internal displacement and delineate related national policy and state programs. The second part of the poster provides an overview of the education system in Peru, highlights discrepancies in literacy rates between rural and urban populations and describes two education programs pertinent to internally displaced persons. Lastly, I discuss the education-quality gap, the factors that deter effective implementation of policy and provide targeted recommendation to stake holders and local actors. I end the poster with a conclusion and a disclaimer of research limitations.


Mercedes Lysaker (Ed.M. ’19)
Arts & Humanities; Music & Music Education
Poster Title: Addressing the Musician-Instrument Relationship in Precollege Instrumental Music Lessons

This pilot study examined how instrumental music teachers address the musician- instrument relationship with their pre-college students. The musician-instrument relationship is a relatively under-researched area, and little of the research on the musician-instrument relationship focuses on how it is addressed by instrumental music pedagogy. Using the themes found in my masters thesis, I surveyed 23 instrumental music teachers whose students are at the pre-college level about the ways in which they do or do not address their students’ relationships with their instruments. Those themes were as follows: instruments as musical partners, personification of instruments, limitations of instruments, personality types, identity, agency in instrument choice, the student-teacher relationship, connection and disconnection between performer and audience, and personal expression.

Results showed that in general, string teachers themselves have varied, yet mostly positive, relationships with their own instruments. They perceive their students developing relationships with their own instruments in diverse ways, both positive and negative. Every teacher surveyed indicated that they in some way address the musician-instrument relationships of their students. They described a variety of strategies they use to address their students’ relationships with their instruments, which included physical, mental, and emotional strategies. Answers to an open-ended question yielded rich data about how teachers see their students developing a musician-instrument relationship and if they perceive that relationship to be beneficial or detrimental.

Due to the small sample size, results should be interpreted cautiously; however, this pilot study suggests that teachers do play a role in how their students develop relationships with their instruments. Future research is needed to more cohesively explore the musician-instrument relationship of pre-college string students as well as the ways in which their teachers play a role in the development of that relationship. Current and future research into how music students’ relationships with others could inform teachers’ strategies and behaviors in ways that produce happier, healthier students.


Van Anh Tran (Ph.D. ’22)
Arts & Humanities; Social Studies Education
Poster: Negotiating Narratives of War: A case study of Vietnamese American Understandings of the Vietnam War


How much of ME is my own, and how much is stamped into my blood and bone, predestined?
--Thi Bui, The Best We Could Do (2017)

The experiences of the second-generation from refugee backgrounds represent a growing population in the United States (U.S. Census Bureau, 1993; 2012), one that is often obscured within discourses about new migrants, current refugees, or the children of immigrants. The stories of refugees are often interwoven with “[stories] of trauma, usually both psychological and physical, often prolonged and involving extreme cruelty” (Kinzie, 2007, p. 195). For refugees, traumatic exposure before, during, and after migration is strongly associated with psychological distress (Fazel, Reed, Panter-Brick, & Stein, 2012; Kirmayer, et al., 2011; Marshall, Schell, Elliott, Berthold, & Chun, 2005; Sangalang & Vang, 2017) and can extend beyond the individual to affect subsequent generations (Dekel & Goldblatt, 2008; Sangalang & Vang, 2017). With unique political, social, historical, and, sometimes, legal connotations and perceptions, the experiences of refugees, and later, their children, contribute to a more complex narrative of remembrance, citizenship, and belonging in the United States. The United States’ relationship with refugee movement and resettlement, particularly over the last seventy years, contribute to a discourse on refugees that paint them as simultaneously in need and undesirable (Espiritu, 2006, 2014). As globalization “is changing the meanings of citizenship [and] belonging” (Bondy, 2015), the children of refugees must negotiate competing notions of refugeeness in the United States with their own memories and interpretations of their communities’ experiences.


This poster presentation is the first part in an academic journey to understand the way that children of refugees engage with their parents’ stories. The research questions were: How do Vietnamese American youth negotiate various sources to construct historical understandings of the Vietnam War? How do these historical understandings impact how Vietnamese American youth interpret their experiences in their various contexts (including home and school)? Twenty participants with varying political views, historical understandings, and educational experiences participated in semi-structured interviews. This case study explores the ways in which one particular population of children of refugees construct historical understandings from sources ranging from: home, school, and popular culture.