Poster Children: Spotlighting Student Research | Teachers College Columbia University

Skip to content Skip to main navigation

Poster Session: Spotlighting Student Research

Innovation was the focus at Academic Festival, including a Student Research Poster competition that highlighted work from virtually every area of the College.


The winning entry was submitted by Mara Lee Grayson, a doctoral student in English Education, who studies racial literacy in classrooms where composition is taught. Grayson has established that despite the vast diversity of student backgrounds in many settings, a “black/white binary” tends to dominate the discourse. A key implication of her research is that “a better understanding of diversity is needed in urban schools, where many students do not identify as black or white.”

Check out our summary story on Academic Festival, stories on TC's Distinguished Alumni Award Winners, and the day's 25 sessions.

Grayson received a scholarship from TC’s Department of Development & External Affairs in the amount of one credit hour worth of tuition.

Another presentation – “I Am Not a Math Person, Please Don’t Make Me Do Fractions,” by Bona Lee and Eileen Wu – was voted the “People’s Choice” by session attendees. The cost of their regalia at TC’s Convocation will be covered by the College.

Among the session’s other compelling presentations:

Research by Ph.D. student Asha Gipson, conducted with Professor of Psychology & Education Loriann Roberson, focused on the “leadership gap” between men and women and. Gipson said their findings indicate that women who “self-promoted” actually got higher salary increases and bonuses than those who “other-promoted.” (Self-promotion is the term for talking positively about oneself and one’s achievements while “other promotion” means focusing more on the accomplishments of others rather than oneself.) Somewhat surprisingly, she said, the research suggested that men fared better when they “other-promoted” than when they “self-promoted.” Gipson said the reasons are a bit unclear, but one possible explanation is that both men and women are rewarded when they act counter to stereotype.


In a study of undergraduates with the City University of New York system who have been deemed “underprepared” in chemistry, doctoral student Philip A. Boda found evidence that professors’ pedagogy had more of an influence on student performance than students’ perceptions of their own ability and of the subject matter. Boda recently presented the findings of his study, “The Importance of Professor Pedagogy over Perceptions of Preparation: A Comparative, Quantitative Study Challenging Misconceptions of Unprepared Undergraduate Science Students” at the American Chemical Society (ACS) conference in San Diego.

Working with doctoral student Joseph Geraci and Professor of Clinical Psychology George Bonanno, master’s student Christopher DeJesus presented the findings of his study “Transition from the Military to Civilian Life: A Growth Mixture Model.” DeJesus said his results indicate that while some soldiers experienced “high stress” and others “low stress” during the transition, the level of stress within each group appeared to remain consistent over time.


“You would expect transition stress to decrease over time, but what we’ve seen is that it’s not decreasing,” DeJesus said. “So future research would be better off trying to see if we can identify ways we can make that stress level decrease,” rather than simply assuming it will do so on its own, he said.

Sanyukta Bafna, who will graduate in May with an Ed.M. in Curriculum and Teaching, presented on “Illusion(s) of choice” at an all-girls Islamic school in India. Bafna said that while the school emphasizes the importance of choice for girls in Indian society, she sought to investigate what “choice” really means in practice. 

“What does choice mean, and how does that get taken on?” she said. “Do all girls have the same choice? What I learned is that choice was taught as an individualistic concept, but there were always constraints by gender and religion. Some students were more empowered than others; if they were judged to be more intelligent, they had more access to choice.”

Bafna said her research fits into a larger agenda of investigating concepts that are widely accepted as having value, but often play out in the real world in more complex ways.

“A lot of people are interrogating things that sound like a good idea – choice, diversity, success. People ask, ‘Why would you interrupt something that is good?’ But the reality is that in the enactment, there are a lot of constraints, and it’s important that we understand them.” – Ellen Livingston



Published Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016

Maya Lee Grayson
Student Research Poster competition winner Maya Lee Grayson, a doctoral student in English Education.
Bona Lee and Eileen Wu
Bona Lee and Eileen Wu were voted "People's Choice" winners of the Poster Session competition.
Asha Gipson
Asha Gipson, a doctoral student in Social-Organizational Psychology, focused her poster presentation on the “leadership gap” between men and women in the workplace.