The Intern Diaries: Samantha Angell

Samantha AngellSamantha is a senior psychology and sociology major from Watertown, WI. She is conducting research this summer in the Educational Psychology Department at the University of Virginia as part of her involvement with the McNair Scholars Program. She is one of four Ripon College students sharing their stories of research internships and jobs over the course of this summer.

What’s in a Word?

Today is the first day of week six in the program, which means I’ll be leaving for home in about 15 days! It also means that the rest of the interns and I are going hot and heavy on our research in preparation for the Leadership Alliance National Symposium. LANS is a conference in Hartford, Connecticut where summer researchers gather to present their own research in poster sessions and to see what others in the field are working on.

If you will recall, my personal research project is studying the types of words teachers use to see if they relate to the effectiveness of that teacher in the classroom. I predicted that teachers who use more positive emotion words and more social words would have higher ratings of teacher quality, but this is not what I have found. The software I’m working with, Linguistic Inquiry Word Count (LIWC) has a category labeled “work” words that contains many business-related items (such as memo, stock, advertising, and project) and some words that pertain to school (such as classroom, finals, achievement, and grade).

When answering the question “What is your role as a teacher and what is the impact you have on your students?” teachers who used many words in the “work” category had lower teacher quality scores. In laymen’s terms, that means that teachers who talk about their job in a more work or academically focused way are not very good teachers! This may be surprising, as you might think that teachers who talk about “classrooms” or “grades” in their writing would be effective teachers who are in tune with their work. I am still trying to work through these findings to understand why “work” words predict low teacher quality. If you have any suggestions, feel free to send an e-mail! ([email protected])

This weekend, the rest of the interns and I will be traveling to King’s Dominion, an amusement park in Doswell, VA. Check in next week for pictures!


To read more updates from Ripon College students on summer internships, click here.

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