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Undergraduate Researchers

Abigail Rein

Abigail Rein, Psychology

“Changes in Spirituality, Optimism and Self-esteem among Participants in a Women-Centered Wellness Program”

Spirituality, optimism, and self-esteem are important aspects of individual well-being. Interventions that impact these variables may provide insight about how to create positive change in people’s lives. Transformation 101, an eight-week course developed by a women-centered social change organization called Shakti Rising, aims to increase self-esteem, optimism, and spiritual awareness among participants. The curriculum includes activities that encourage participants to explore the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual domains of their lives through meditation, group discussion, and guided journaling. Participants also learn to make small changes that positively impact their lives. This study investigated the success of the program by analyzing differences in participants’ pre- and post- scores on the Spiritual Involvement and Beliefs Scale - Revised (SIBS), the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES), and the Life Orientation Test - Revised (LOT-R). Researchers hypothesized an increase in spirituality, optimism, and self-esteem. The results of the analysis will be discussed during the presentation.

When did you start conducting research at UMBC? How did you find a mentor and project to work on?
I started doing research at UMBC during the Fall 2011 semester. I had a very helpful Teaching Assistant in one of my classes during Spring 2011 who was looking for some help with her research and she invited me to work with her.

What did you know about your field/project when you started? How did you learn what you needed to know?

Previous to starting this research project, I had a solid background in general psychology, but I did not know a lot about the type of community psychology that our project is based on. I learned a lot through discussion of the project with my mentors and through researching background information on the topics that we were studying.

Who do you work with on your project? Other undergraduates? graduate students? faculty?

I mostly work with one graduate student, Magda Permut, and her mentor, Professor Ken Maton.

How did you decide to present at URCAD?

I received a Travel Grant through the Office of Undergraduate Education to help fund a trip to present the research that I was doing at a conference in California. The Office of Undergraduate Education asked if I would also be willing to present the research at URCAD.

Was the application difficult?

I felt that the URCAD application process was fair and straightforward.

How did you know what to put on your poster?

The poster presentation information session led by Dr. Steven Miller greatly helped me to understand the basics of what should go on a research poster. I have also received guidance from the graduate student that I work with.

What are your goals for after UMBC?

After graduating from UMBC, I would like to enter into a graduate program and ultimately pursue research as a career.

Would you suggest to other undergraduates that they find a research project?

I would absolutely suggest that other undergraduates get involved with a research project. It can not only help you to become more familiar with certain areas of a subject, but it also encourages you to be creative and motivated. There are many personal and professional benefits that can be gained by being part of a research project.

What else are you involved in at UMBC?

I also work as a desk staffer at Potomac Hall on the UMBC Campus.

This work was supported, in part, by a Travel Award from the UMBC Office of Undergraduate Education.