Research explores emotion reasoning in children
Christine Fandrick has a personal philosophy: always follow your interests. Little did she know that one day this philosophy would lead her to an opportunity to assist children.
Research focus earns studentship grant
After three years in MacEwan University’s Bachelor of Arts psychology honours program, Christine’s commitment to her personal philosophy, combined with her childhood interests of figure skating and music, has resulted in her becoming one of the first students at MacEwan University to receive a Health Quality Council of Alberta (HQCA) Studentship grant. HQCA Studentship grants enable students to do research that supports its mandate.
“It was an unexpected surprise,” says Christine about the scholarship.
Her faculty mentor, Dr. Tara Vongpaisal, encouraged Christine to apply because her research interests matched HQCA’s mandate to identify and implement strategies to improve patient safety and health service quality. Christine’s application met two keys targets of the health council’s framework: Accessibility and Being Healthy.
Christine and Dr. Vongpaisal are researching the potential of using music and movement to enhance emotion reasoning and social skills of children with autism spectrum disorder.
Personal interests inspire research
Christine’s interest in child development was inspired by her mother’s work as a special education teacher and their shared belief that positive life experiences and mental and physical well-being are necessary for a healthy childhood. Once Christine began her studies at MacEwan University, her mother’s example and her own love of sport and music led her to explore ways to combine music and movement for the benefit of children. Christine’s interests were a good match for those of Dr. Vongpaisal, who is involved in research pertaining to special populations. And like Christine, she has studied music.
Learning technique uses music and movement
The researchers chose children with autism as the focus of their research because of the special challenges the children experience in recognizing and expressing emotions. By using music and removing the social element from activities, the study participants will be able to focus on recognizing emotions in the music rather than on socialization. Their hope is that the children could then apply this ability to better recognition of emotions in themselves and other people.
Christine chose the “multiple modalities of learning” technique of using music and movement because it allows for the accessibility of opportunities that children with autism need to allow them to do the things other children can do.
Research could benefit any child
The researchers hope the results of their work will be used to develop activities and programs to help children with autism become aware of not only their own emotions, but also the emotions of others. Christine believes the results of her research could be used to benefit any child because increasing the amount of exercise and movement are important for maintaining physical and mental health for people of any age and ability.
Contributed by Danica Erickson, Bachelor of Communication Studies student.
The Annual Student Research Showcase is coming to City Centre Campus January 28 to February 1, 2013.