Undergrad Research Reflection

Research Reflection

The research that I have completed has been three months in the making- I got a bit of a late start in comparison to most of the other research fellows, as I spent last semester abroad. Returning and placing all of my work in this semester meant working faster, under tighter deadlines, and learning things on the fly as I worked to compose a comprehensive research paper. Over these three months, I have been able to research and put together a full report on the experiences of transgender students in higher education. Within these findings, I include reviews on implications of transgender students’ mental health needs, preferred names and their importance in the systems of higher education, suggestions of Greek life and their impacts on the transgender community, negative coping mechanisms more commonly found within the community, and a deep review on housing policy within a number of universities.

Participating in my first research experience has deeply influenced my abilities as a student this semester, and likely for the future as well. I have never engaged in research at a level such as this, and having this experience has broadened my research abilities as well as my abilities to formulate a comprehensive paper of this length and quality. I have, of course, written many papers in my time as a student, but delving into APA, literature reviews, and research at this level was a first-time experience for myself- for that, I am beyond grateful. It is an experience I consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity for. I have learned from this experience a number of highly valuable skills that I will be able to use throughout my career, I have learned valuable information about transgender students and their experiences in higher education in relation to my own experience in higher education as a transgender individual, and I find that I have accomplished something I didn’t think I would be able to accomplish in my university timeline.

Some skills I have gained include the ability to effectively find and analyze pre-existing literature. I relied heavily on the published research of other researchers for the success of my own paper, and being able to find papers that have relevant information was significantly harder than I imagined it could be. At first, I attempted to judge based on titles whether or not pieces would be beneficial for my own piece. It took a few solid weeks of me trying and failing to incorporate pieces into my own research for me to realize that I was looking for the entirely wrong type of paper and type of information. But, once I was able to refocus and figure out what I needed, the paper became a breeze. I have read so many residential life and housing policies that I could probably spout verbatim a lot of the common policies. I also created my first APA style chart, which was an absolute pain to figure out but it made completing it that much sweeter.

But, I also gained a real understanding of the state of transgender students in higher education and residential life and housing within higher education institutions. As a transgender individual myself, I have been struggling with understanding how I fit within a university setting, and how I’m supposed to navigate most elements of residential life. I was watching my friends at Penn State, which has highly supportive policies in place for students, and wondering where my resources were and if I just happened to pick a university that wasn’t as invested in their LGBTQIA students. I’ve had many questions regarding resources, many questions as to why we don’t have the same supports in place, and many of these requests have fallen perhaps not unheard, but without action. Being able to step up and begin serving my community and helping those with similar experiences to me has been such an important step in my role as a leader on campus. I felt that things need to be done, and I sincerely hope that by doing this research perhaps my requests and recommendations will be honored. However, I don’t want this paper to be perceived as a personal list of demands- these are issues faced by most- if not all- transgender students, and we all deserve the support we need to succeed emotionally in order to guarantee our highest potential success academically.





Challenges of students with ASD in Higher Education and Beyond

Doing research on the Challenges and Success of students with Autism in Post-Secondary Education and beyond, I begin with a brief discussion about the characteristics of individuals on the Autism Spectrum, which cover the difficulties they have in social communication with others:

  • Low to High Cognitive Potential
  • Rigidity and Repetitive Movements
  • Intense interests on one or two areas
  • Tonal Prosody of Speech
  • Difficulty Interacting and Poor Eye Contact
  • General Inflexibility
  • Theory of Mind
  • Sensitivity to sound, crowds, touch or taste

Individuals with ASD will develop at their own pace by, breaking the barriers they face with their communication skills. Parents who have children with ASD are striving to help their kids become independent as they grow. Diving into the purpose of my research, I have discovered the challenges they face during their undergraduate career:

  • Transition from High School to college
  • Moving into a larger environment that is less structured
  • Classes not being scheduled daily
  • Follow a syllabus
  • Self-Advocacy
  • Executive Functioning Difficulties
  • Time Management
  • Organization
  • Communication with Professors
  • Living away from home
  • Self-Responsibility
  • Difficulty in accessing accommodations

Overall, the main objective is to apply possible strategies that will enable ASD students to reach their full potential as they go to college, get hired into the work place, and become productive members of society.

As far as expectations, I want to find out what supports are necessary in Post Secondary Education for students with ASD to overcome the difficulties they have nation wide. In addition, I aim to create Post-Secondary Education is a safe learning environment all over the world for students with learning differences. Moving forward into the process, I will be learning how different programs operate in helping students succeed in Post-Secondary Education.

The next step of the project is to do to a comparative analysis of the national averages of students with ASD in colleges and universities as opposed to the students with ASD or learning differences at Pace University who receive comprehensive support. My biggest hope is that the statistics I present will encourage educators and administrators to think about how they can assist students with learning differences to succeed during their college career and provide some necessary tools that will help them overcome their weaknesses.