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Campus Spotlight

Beverly Goldfield

Psychology Department

Students working on project:

Melissa Marcotte, BA in Psychology, BS in Chemical Dependency and Addiction Studies, Spring 2012

T​abitha Newman, BA in Psychology, Spring 2012

Lauren Whittle, BA in Psychology, BS in Chemical Dependency and Addiction Studies, Spring 2012

Project: Early Comprehension of Nouns and Verbs
Front L-R: Dr. Goldfield and Melissa Marcotte; Back L-R: Tabitha Newman and Lauren Whittle

Dr. Goldfield is currently working on an early language development research project funded by a National Institutes of Health grant through the Rhode Island IDeA Network for Biomedical Research Excellence (RI-INBRE). Dr. Goldfield, along with students Melissa Marcotte, Tabitha Newman, and Lauren Whittle, examines word comprehension in children aged 14-18-months. The purpose of the research is to determine whether children comprehend verbs as early as nouns. Research has shown that children say nouns well before they say verbs, but we have yet to discover if they comprehend the verbs as early.

The participating students have found their research experience to be invaluable. Melissa Marcotte transferred to RIC from a private college to be able to have the opportunity to participate in this type of research. Ms. Marcotte, who is working on statistical analysis of the data, plans to go to graduate school and obtain a Ph.D. She appreciates the support the INBRE program offers, including brown bag lunches where students have a chance to talk to others about their research and get advice on graduate programs.

Lauren Whittle also plans to earn a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, and is particularly interested in autism research. "What's fun about this project is that we get to meet lots of adorable babies! It's also opened my eyes to the variety of skills children can possess at such a young age," says Ms. Whittle. She points out that her learning style is via active involvement, and this project affords her a great opportunity to effectively learn while actively participating in the research.

As Tabitha Newman points out, the INBRE grant allowed RIC to purchase an eye tracker, which assesses comprehension via a preferential looking task (PLT), and facilitates the research enormously. Ms. Newman also transferred to RIC, and is very pleased that she has had this research opportunity. She says of her experience, "Dr. Goldfield has taught us so much about the research process and really helped focus my thoughts on the future. She goes above and beyond to help train students and make them more competitive for graduate school or the job market. "

All the students feel that this research opportunity provides a faster path to reaching their goals, as graduate programs require that students have research experience prior to enrollment.

According to Dr. Goldfield research enriches faculty, students and the broader community. Or as she puts it, "I love working with students. And babies are fun too!"

The project described is supported by the RI-INBRE Award # P20RR016457-11 from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), NIH. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NCRR or the NIH.​

Page last updated: October 06, 2017