Miriam Carlson graduated from Eastern Washington University in 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Applied Developmental Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Communication. She was selected as an EWU McNair Scholar in March of 2018 and completed her 2019 summer research Cognitive Appraisal and Debt Aversion: The Effects of Cognitive Appraisal on Postsecondary Education with her faculty mentor Dr. Aryn Zeihnert. Miriam's research was accepted into the Western Psychological Association (WPA) conference, which took place in San Francisco this fall. She has continued to participate in research with Dr. Ziehnert and is also a research member in Dr. Charalambos C. Cleanthous' lab. For Dr. Cleanthous she helped recruit participants for a human factors precision study by discussing the study's specifications to undergraduate classrooms in Winter 2019. In addition, Miriam was a Teaching Assistant for Dr. Aryn Zeihnert this year, supporting classes such as Psychology 100. She is also a member of the American Psychological Association.
Miriam was accepted to Gonzaga University's Education Specialist in School Psychology program and began attending in Fall 2020.
2019 McNair Faculty Mentor: Dr. Aryn Zeihnert
Research Title: The Effects of Cognitive Appraisal on Postsecondary Education
Abstract: Few studies have gone beyond evaluating the students’ socioeconomic status and how their status influences academic achievement in higher education. While previous research makes an attempt to address the notions surrounding attrition, retention, and persistence the findings are more multifarious than previously assessed. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to examine the concept of cognitive appraisal in relation to higher education. The study seeks to evaluate how the appraisal of perceived barriers, mainly debt aversion, influences individual resolutions to pursue and complete higher levels of education. Using a qualitative, correlational design, the researcher examines the differences between the perceptions of traditional and nontraditional students. The researcher hypothesizes the following: (1) Individuals who make positive appraisals are more likely to complete their undergraduate program, and if needed, obtain a graduate degree; and (2) individuals who are debt-averse may not consider the benefits of higher education, resigning themselves to lower-paying jobs and fewer opportunities. The research will help further our understanding of the role cognitive appraisal plays in debt aversion in nontraditional individuals, which can ultimately point to potential avenues for intervention. Research in mental processes that impact decision making is critical because as a society, it behooves us to find a way to challenge adverse mental processes (such as negative appraisals) of nontraditional students to better level the playing field for future education and career participation.