Trevecca senior and professor publish findings in scholarly journal

Senior Katie Jordan can now list another accomplishment on her resume: published writer. The senior recently co-published an article with Trevecca professor, Dr. Randy Carden, in Modern Psychological Studies, a journal devoted to publishing the work of undergraduate students.

Modern Psychological Studies is published by the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga.

Jordan’s research was about STEM majors and the differences in self-confidence between men and women. Her interest in this topic started when she read an article that made her uncomfortable regarding STEM.

“I read this article the summer before I took the class about how males in science majors tend to think that their female peers are less successful,” Jordan said. “There was this huge study done where they found almost every male in science classes would say that their male peers are doing best in the class even though sometimes it’s their female peers.”

Jordan’s curiosity only continued to grow. When Carden assigned Jordan a research project as part of the mandatory research method class he taught, Jordan said it only seemed natural to dig deeper into the topic. Carden, a professor of psychology, served as a mentor and guide as Jordan pursued her research.

“He was a lot of guidance,” Jordan said. “[We had to] figure out what’s feasible and how to get accurate results, what type of samples to use and how to make [the study] unbiased.”

Jordan says Carden helped his students to find the tools and the surveys that would best fit their projects as well as edit their papers.  

To Jordan’s and Carden’s surprise, their findings at Trevecca went against the status quo.

“Past research has shown that female science majors tend to be less confident in themselves,” Jordan said. “I actually found that there was no correlation with gender and self-confidence in the STEM majors that I used here at Trevecca. So, it was really unusual because usually there is that difference where the females feel like they have less self-efficacy.”

Carden says he and Jordan have a theory they believe can explain their findings.

“Trevecca has a really strong mathematics and science department,” Carden said. “We have a lot of faculty that are women and really great and strong role models. They are professional and academic role models for our women students to emulate and model. That’s our theory.”

Over the years, Carden has seen Trevecca’s undergraduate research program flourish, with more students’ work getting published. In his years as a professor, Carden has co-authored nine peer reviewed publications.

“I came from a clinical psychology field and moved into the research area when we had a faculty change many years ago,” he said. “So, when I took over and started to fill in that need we had, I wanted my students to do solid original research. We began, and it got better and better. At some point, we submitted [a paper], and it got accepted. We kept trying, and it was working.”

For students, attempting scholarly research on their own can be a little daunting, Jordan says. But Jordan says that at Trevecca, professors across disciplines and throughout the University encourage and support undergraduate research.

“I see a lot of research being in the bio department,” Jordan said. “They’re really big on research and really helpful. If you go to a professor and say, ’I think this is interesting, and I would like to do it,’ they’re game.”

Carden understands the sense of accomplishment that comes with getting work published, and he hopes more Trevecca students will get a chance to experience it.

“It’s really incredible for an undergraduate to get a peer-reviewed publication while there still in college and not a graduate student,” Carden said. “It’s the icing on the cake.”

To read Carden and Jordan’s research, click here.

By Princess Jones
Media contact: Mandy Crow, mmcrow@trevecca.edu, 615-248-1695