Building Psychology Research Skills

I am Kezang Choki Tshering, Class of 2022, majoring in Biochemistry and Psychology. Last summer, I got the opportunity to work with Professor Srijana Shrestha as a research assistant in the Psychology Department at Wheaton. Professor Shrestha reached out to me about her research projects after I had expressed my interests in psychology to her and that’s how I landed the opportunity. 

It was a great experience for me to observe how a research project materializes. Professor Shrestha was interested in developing a research project to explore the layperson’s perspective on dementia and family caregiving of people with dementia in Nepal. As the research was in the initial stages, I mostly worked on literature search and literature review. I started the search with aging and dementia in the South Asian context and then expanded to other non-Western countries. I worked on identifying and summarizing key details of each article and documenting them for easy access for review later on. Based on the literature review, I worked on identifying common themes in the literature and categorizing each article under a common theme. We, then worked on developing the study question and methodology with the goal of collecting data in summer 2021.  

Overall, it was an incredible learning experience for me although it was virtual. I learned so much about research and critical thinking under the mentoring of Professor Shrestha. By the end of the summer, I was definitely much more efficient at extracting key information from research articles. I gained knowledge and skills on qualitative research. The best part of this opportunity for me would be the relationship I developed with Professor Shrestha. She was a great mentor both professionally and personally. She provided me with great support when I was on campus, away from home during the pandemic. I had a great time working on the research project and I am still working on the same project with Professor Shrestha. I would definitely recommend approaching your professors for such opportunities.