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The 2019 Undergraduate Research Symposium: Studying the Human Mind in the Health and Social Sciences

By Claire Neiberg

Katie Janov, a freshman, presented her research entitled, “Text-to-Speech for Reading Comprehension by People with Aphasia” at the symposium. Javon is in the Honors College as a Speech-Language Pathology major. While her original motive for participating in the Undergraduate Research Symposium was to obtain credit for Honors Inquiry II, Janov’s choice of topic stems from her passion to help those with communication disorders. She stated, “I worked with my faculty advisor, Dr. Wallace, and she was able to give me a lot of research that Duquesne was a part of. She sort of led me to the topic of types of speech systems for reading comprehension for people with aphasia”. Aphasia is a type of speech disorder caused by brain damage. Its side effects include, but are not limited to, lack of understanding and expressing speech. The text-to-speech technology that Janov examined is a great help to people with aphasia, because it helps them integrate themselves back into everyday life. Janov concluded, “People with aphasia want to participate in life just as much as anybody else, and any system that helps them do that is worth looking into.”

Kaitlin Dodd and Rachel Krotseng, two freshmen in the honors college, presented their research entitled, “The Teaching of World Religions in Public Schools”. Dodd is a Middle Level Education Major and Krotseng is a history major. In the United States, religious hate crimes have been on the rise. Dodd and Krotseng believe that this is because of the lack of education on world religion in public schools. “Most people don’t know the laws regarding teaching religion in public schools and think it is not allowed” Krotseng explained. A high school in Modesto, California recently implemented a rule that world religion must be taught in public schools. Krotseng explained that this was because, “Modesto is predominately Christian and conservative, and teaching world religions would hopefully open the minds of students.” Dodd then explained that it is crucial to teach these classes in middle school because, “it is one of the most developmental periods in a child’s life, where they begin to discover their identity.” The study in Modesto had a positive turnout, as hate crimes in the region have begun to go down. “If they don’t know about it [other religions], they’ll fear it” Krotseng stated. The students in Modesto also broadened their minds concerning the competency of minority races, such as their ability to hold public office. Education is Dodd’s passion, and she continued to emphasize that “it is important for children to learn tolerance while their minds are still growing.” Americans must learn that their identity is not universal, as Krotseng put it best by stating, “America is known as a melting pot. The doors are open to people, but most of our minds are not.”


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