Kathleen Rivers, M.S., M.A.


Education: Bachelor of Arts in music (May 2010)

Master of Science in education psychology from Oklahoma State University

Master of Arts in social foundations of education from Oklahoma State University

McNair Project: Neurological Centers of the Brain Responsible for Creativity and Inhibitions can be Turned On or Off by Performing Jazz Improvisation (2008)

Mentor: Frederick Burrack, Ph.D.

The prefrontal portion of the brain is directly influenced by music, more specifically jazz improvisation. Jazz improvisation can take students from the printed page of music and programmed thinking to accomplishing abstract thought (creatively), all the while internalizing the music with a decreased anxiety level. This hypothesis will be tested by observations and a series of non-invasive questions directed to sixth grade musicians who have been playing their individual instruments for approximately one year. The hypothesis is based on research done by National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) on prefrontal brain activity that was monitored by the use of a Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) on a jazz musician. This means of exploration will examine whether jazz improvisation can enhance the thinking ability of sixth grade musicians and their inhibitions about performing within a group.

McNair Project: Bridging The Gap: Competency Transference from Training to Performance Among Teen Camp Counselors (2009)

Mentor: Gary Gerhard, Ph.D.

Trainers must be proficient in transferring knowledge and skills in such a way that their trainees can master and perform competently their responsibilities. Albert Bandura’s life’s work of investigating the interaction between cognition and social context in human behavior gave birth to social cognitive theory, which is the model assumed in the following study. The general question asks whether adolescents engage themselves with a training curriculum and ultimately whether that training curriculum transforms them to perform competently as camp counselors to youth between the ages of 7 and 12. That performance can be measured against the current standards of positive youth development. The literature is limited in this field, both regarding training approaches with adolescents and specifically in the preparation of camp counselors.

The OzSome Camp Association asked whether their training of 4-H camp counselors was effective in contributing to positive learning environments for campers. Therefore it was the intent of this study to ascertain the effectiveness of their training program. Random, systematic observations were used to identify the engagement level of the counselors while attending training sessions. Random observation was used to describe the camp counselor interactions with their assigned campers. A post-hoc survey of the counselors revealed whether the training had any perceived residual performance outcomes and whether their experiences resulted in future applications in their lives. A post-hoc agent survey made known whether the agents’ expectations of the camp counselors’ performances were met.