Marywood University’s College of Professional Studies recently held its inaugural “Research Slam.” Faculty members along with graduate and doctorate students presented on a wide array of topics including: “Virtual Reality: Improving Interviewing Skills in Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder”; “How Organizational Culture Affects Employee Burnout”; “Social Connections: Helping Students and Industry Learn from Each Other”; and “Grit as a predictor of academic success: Recent evidence and sociological considerations.”


The two-hour session gave each individual or group time to present their research followed by a question and answer period. During the first research presentation, “Virtual Reality: Improving Interviewing Skills in Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder,” Patricia Arter, Ph.D., professor of special education; Monica Law, Ph.D. assistant professor of business at Marywood University; and Regina Fidiam, NEIU teacher, explained their research, which explores the feasability and efficacy of virtual reality to improve job-interviewing skills of high school students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Results show an overall trend towards improvement in answers, turns taken, and minutes engaged in the interview. During the presentation, SIMmersion virtual reality software was explained and the results of the collaborative project were shared. Other research team members absent from the presentation include: Tammy Brown, Ph.D., associate professor of reading education; Jennifer Barna, Ph.D., associate professor; Allison Fruehan, graduate assistant; and Jessica D’Aquila, graduate assistant at Marywood University.


“How Organization Culture Affects Employee Burnout” was presented by John W. Rosengrant and Matthew R. Bartos, master of public administration students at Marywood University, who explored the impact that organizational culture has on burnout syndrome among employees at a human services agency with multiple office locations. Burnout syndrome is a serious dilemma that affects the professional as well as the personal well-being of people in the helping professions. The findings of this study imply that organizational culture has a significant impact on an employee’s level of burnout, and certain preventative measures can be taken to improve culture within different offices in order to decrease the level of burnout and thus, contribute to increasing employee retention at this particular organization.


Brooke Hansen, Ph.D. candidate, presented, “Grit as a predictor of academic success: Recent evidence and sociological considerations.” The definition, established correlate variables, and approach to studying grit, both as a higher-order construct and based on its two distinct components, were presented. The mixed evidence for grit as the best predictor of academic achievement was reviewed; comparing grit to previously established predictors of academic achievement (e.g. GPA and SAT score, self-control, and conscientiousness). Student grit is considered from a sociologic perspective, with discussion of variables that may impact grit development and our readiness to adopt the character trait as a key predictor of success.


The final project was that of Stephen Garrison, assistant professor of interior architecture, who presented his research, “Social Connections: Helping Students and Industry Learn from Each Other.” Mr. Garrison explained how social media has earned a reputation as a mindless diversion from everyday life, but it has also built a reputation of connecting people from all walks of life in an unprecedented manner. Students now have an opportunity to become acquainted with designers and projects with an immediacy that would have been unheard of 15 years ago. There is the potential for students to develop a visual literacy and a broadened aesthetic at a much earlier point, allowing them to create a network of connections, whether visual or personal.