The Pennsylvania Sociological Society held their 61st annual meeting at Seton Hill University in Greensberg, Pa., on Oct. 1, at which two Elizabethtown College students were awarded for their social research. Seniors Barbara Prince and Michael Shields received this recognition, and they attended the conference with their mentor and professor, Dr. Michele Lee Kozimor-King.
According to the society’s website, “The Pennsylvania Sociological Society has been serving Pennsylvania sociology faculty, students, researchers and other professionals for 61 years and continues to be a place to share ideas, network and learn from one another. In addition to learning from and collaborating with one another, this [conference] is also an excellent way to introduce students to the discipline and professional and research activities of sociologists.”
Prince is a sociology and anthropology major and an art history minor. At the conference, she was awarded Best Overall Student Research Paper in the Undergraduate and Graduate Student Paper Competition. Her paper, which she presented during the meeting, is called “When is Mommy Coming Home? A Content Analysis of Spillover in ‘Parenthood.’” Prince originally completed the paper for her sociology class, Marriage and Family with Kozimor-King, as a content analyst related to course material.
“Spillover is when one domain of life interferes with another, like family coming to the workplace,” Prince explained. She looked at season one of the NBC series “Parenthood,” as suggested by her professor and divided her findings into males and females. She counted each time that a member of the family came to another member’s workplace and each time work interfered at home, “which is a lot,” she said.
For this competition, papers were judged before the conference. After students presented in the morning, the awards were announced at lunch. Prince received money and a certificate at that time. The papers that win this competition are typically published in the journal “Sociological Viewpoints.”
Prince believes that her paper was chosen because she was very well-prepared, thanks to Kozimor-King, who requires her students to repeatedly revise their papers. “We learned that it’s not how everyone else does it. They don’t have the interaction with professors that we do here,” Prince said. She has been to several conferences before where she was able to learn what works and what doesn’t, which helped her gain valuable experience.
“I’m very excited about winning. I’m more into statistics, quantitative material, but it is very exciting to beat graduate students,” Prince said.
Shields, also a sociology and anthropology major, won Best Undergraduate Student Research Poster for his project, entitled “Is It Earth Day Yet? Measuring Knowledge and Interest of Environmental Topics.” His poster is currently hanging in Nicarry Hall. Shields is interested in urban sociology and environmental issues which led him to do this research, along with a requirement for Methods of Social Research with Kozimor-King. “I wanted to know how residence and region affected environmental knowledge and interest,” he said.
Shields’ award was also announced at lunch, and he was amazed by his win. “I’m still very surprised. We all knew Barbara was going to win, but I did not think I was. Not many of the judges asked me to explain my project,” he said. Shields recalled graduate students being very impressed that he completed this research in his sophomore year. “I’m very proud of the work that I did,” he said.
He also values that they go to conferences like this as often as possible because of all of the interesting projects they get to see. “You can really pick any part of society to study,” Shields said.
Kozimor-King, associate professor of sociology and Etown class of 1993, was heavily involved in the success of both projects according to her students. She reciprocates their admiration, pointing out how they were both very prepared, which others also told her. “Barbara’s paper was completed in one semester, which is impressive, and it is well-written, though she doesn’t like it as much as I do. Mike has a command of his material and didn’t need any assistance from me; they both handled questions and challenges on their own,” she said. “People thought they were graduate students, and they presented at that level.”
Her favorite part of the experience was the mentoring relationship that she has with her students. “It’s fun to be able to do things with students in the professional setting. Elizabethtown has a history of doing very well at this competition, and it helps their resumes and applications for graduate school. They get to experience the professional setting, other students and faculty, and see interest in their projects. Mentoring is a valuable experience,” Kozimor-King said.
“We know what we’re talking about because of her,” Prince said. “Dr. Koz is awesome; I value her mentoring. This wouldn’t have happened without her.” Shields said, “Dr. Koz is driven, so she makes us very driven.”
Both students are pursuing Honors in the Discipline. At the next conference for the Eastern Sociological Society, Shields, Prince and Kozimor-King will jointly present a workshop about research methods.