A Summer of Sketching

I spent this summer sketching. I drew and a I wrote and I learned more about research than I ever could have. This summer, I focused on two projects: a survey that tested for aphantasia, and a study that incorporates sketching in the classroom. While I started the summer focusing on neither of these projects, I ended up with not one but two projects to work on this year. Therefore, a summer of sketching will lead to a year of research.

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Research Update 3: The Last Shell Has Finally Come

With thousands of oysters to analyze at the start of the summer, the end looked like it would never come.  However, I have officially finished analyzing every precontact shell in my collection!  Now that I have finished my data collection, it is time to begin exploratory data analysis, looking for trends in the results that tell interesting stories.  This has been my main objective of this past week, and likely the coming week.  At the start of this week, Professor Gallivan introduced me to a statistical software system called SPSS.  We debated over whether I could conduct my data analysis through Excel or SPSS.  However, due to my lack of knowledge on both platforms, it was decided I should put my effort into learning SPSS since I would likely use it more frequently in the future.  The first day or two of exploring SPSS left me very confused.  The initial process of data entry on SPSS is more complicated them in Excel, as there are two pages for each data set to manage–Data View and Variable View.  However, the more I have experimented with the software, the more comfortable I have become with it.  Over the week, I have input all my data into the system.  Then I went through all my data doing an accuracy check to ensure every column was completely filled in and there were no values or designations that seemed obscure from the rest of the measurements.  I only had a few spots that left me with questions, and for those, I went back through my oyster collection and reanalyzed the shells in question for all attributes.  After double-checking all my data, I created a table that simplified the data setup from a per shell factor of analysis to a “feature” factor of analysis.  Since there were over two thousand individual shells analyzed and only 14 feature they originated from, determining important trends between features is much easier than between shells.  With this being said, I calculated the mean, or average, of all the shells found in each feature for all of the attributes measured–mass, length, height, height-length ratio (HLR), presence or absence of an attachment scar, presence or absence of parasitism, percentage of parasitism, parasitism on attachment scar, and left-valve concavity (LVC).  By looking at the table, I have been able to identify possible trends to further explore with histograms and box plots that show the actual variations between the features.  One of the trends that I am extremely interested in is the relationship between shell size and parasite presence with the type of roasting pit in which they came from.  The site report for site 44YO0797 identified two types of roasting pits, some that show evidence of heavy firing and others that do not.  Currently, it appears that the roasting pits that have lesser evidence of firing contained the larger, more likely offshore oysters, and I wonder if this has anything to do with preservation techniques of the Native American.  Site 44YO0797 was a secondary base camp for the Native Americans used for gathering supplies, so I am curious in exploring the possibility that the roasting pits with evidence of firing that contained smaller, near-shore shells because those were the oysters eaten on-site, while the roasting pits without evidence of firing had more larger offshore oysters because they were preserved for later use.  At this point, this is merely a theory that I hope to explore more with continued data analysis.  Additionally, I plan to compare my findings to those of Jessie Jenkins and Martin Gallivan who conducted a similar study of oyster shells at a different Native American site along the York River that was a primary settlement instead of a secondary supply gathering camp.

Week 8: Wrapping Up the Summer

My last full week of the summer was largely spent wrapping up the projects I had been working on, finalizing recruitment protocols, and checking out books and articles about the underlying theory my lab employs in its work. I read more of some original lectures given by John Bowlby compiled in the book A Secure Base, which I wrote about in my previous blog post. Bowlby was a psychologist and researcher who established much of modern attachment theory in the field of psychology, while drawing on the current theories and experiments of his time, such as Ainsworth’s Strange Situation. He writes in these lectures about attachment generally, and how it is influenced by family structures and parenting styles. I enjoyed reading about his experiences with patients who had been raised by parents who employed various methods of controlling their children, such as threats of abandonment, abuse, or the expectation of total obedience, to name a few.  Through these clinical interviews by himself and other psychoanalysts, Bowlby was able to identify key symptoms, general attachment styles, environmental influences, and thought patterns that were typical of individuals who experienced these types of home environments as children. These individuals displayed various types of attachment security, which Bowlby was able to outline and provide examples of. The three types of attachment and their consequences throughout the life course that Bowlby addresses in A Secure Base are secure attachment, anxious resistant attachment, and anxious avoidant attachment. A securely attached child to his or her mother/father/parental figure views them as a secure base from which to explore the world, meaning that the more secure the base, the more the child ventures from it, trusting that they will receive comfort and security from that figure upon return (Bowlby 167). Anxious resistant attachment occurs when a child is unsure of the reception they will receive from a parent or caregiver, which may spur very whiny, clingy behavior from the child, as well as a predisposition for separation anxiety (Bowlby 167). Parental behavior that may lead to a child’s anxious resistant attachment style could include a mix of warm interactions and separations of parent and child, or threats of separation/abandonment (Bowlby 167). Since the child experiences uncertainty as to the caregiver’s response, s/he becomes clingy in order to avoid the feared separation. Lastly, anxious avoidant attachment occurs when a child believes that they will never be the recipient of a warm response should he turn to a caregiver for support or comfort (Bowlby 167). A child operating within this type of attachment style may attempt to be entirely self-sufficient, at times clingy, tense, or even passively helpless (Bowlby 167-168). The author emphasized that he felt nothing but compassion for these parents who, as supported by empirical research, were likely acting out the cycle of violence, abuse, or neglect to which they had been subjected themselves. Our Glass Task experiment builds on this research, so I spent time at the end of my summer collecting sources from the library to peruse before I return at the end of the month.

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Project updates- week VII

This seventh and final week of research had lab members providing several project updates. The two largest updates came from the aphantasia study and the biology pictionairy study.

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