UHV alumni take first place for papers at education conference

From left, Barba Patton, a UHV curriculum and instruction professor; UHV alumna Cassidy Marek; UHV alumna Charlene Murphree; Jerry Baydo, executive director of National Social Science Association; and UHV alumna Kelsey Brown-Woods participate in the NSSA conference April 10 in Las Vegas. The three UHV alumni submitted research papers that were recognized by the NSSA.

Cassidy Marek was coming back from the dessert bar when she heard her name announced from the stage.

“I didn’t think I would win, so I was just planning to enjoy the conference and learn as much as I could,” Marek said. “I got to the table, and people were saying, ‘Go! You won! Get on stage!’”

Marek was one of four University of Houston-Victoria alumni who submitted papers to the National Social Science Association conference in Las Vegas. The Edna resident was awarded first place in the undergraduate category for her paper, “Want a Positive Classroom: Try Skillstreaming.” In December, she received her Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies in early childhood education with a minor in special education.

Charlene Murphree of Thomaston, who obtained her Master of Education in educational technology in December, won first place in the graduate category for her paper “Watch Out! Interactive Storyboards Are Here.”

Kelsey Brown-Woods of Pawnee, who graduated in December with her master’s in curriculum and instruction with a concentration in elementary education, was the runner up in the graduate category for her paper “Undergraduate Ethics: Student Perspective.”

“Each of these young women did outstanding work when they were my students,” said Barba Patton, a UHV professor of curriculum and instruction. “They were never satisfied with just doing the minimum, and I wanted to give them the opportunity to showcase their talents and passion at the national level. I am so pleased to see them acknowledged.”

When Murphree was choosing her paper’s topic, she looked to her own classroom experience for inspiration. Her students at Meyersville Independent School District put together a project using augmented reality. The students created their own books online, which were published as a hardcover book. The books allowed readers to scan certain images and learn more about the images’ subjects through videos the students created using media software.

“It was incredible to see how excited they were about this project and learning,” Murphree said. “When my paper won, I was so surprised, but it’s been an amazing experience.”

For Marek, the decision to research skillstreaming was tied to her career. She wants to work with special education students, and skillstreaming is a system that promotes social behavior in the classroom. This could include how to help others or how to deal with teasing. Her paper looked at how the system impacts students with autism, Asperger’s syndrome and emotional disturbance.

“I couldn’t believe that out of all the papers from across the U.S., mine won,” she said. “It was the best professional experience I’ve had, and I’m looking forward to doing another research paper for the conference in San Antonio this October.”

The winning papers will be published in the NSSA’s 2018 journal.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region, offers courses leading to 70 bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and concentrations in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as a teaching site in Katy, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. Since its founding in 1973, UHV has provided students with a quality university education from excellent faculty at an affordable price.