NSCM student Madison Kjosa never thought research would be a part of her undergraduate path, but when James McCafferty, major coordinator for communication and conflict at the time, emailed her talking about Honors in the Major (HIM), she was intrigued.

Established in 1989, HIM is the oldest and most prestigious undergraduate research program at UCF, where students research, write, defend and publish an original Honors thesis that serves as the capstone product of their undergraduate career.

Kjosa started brainstorming and realized how much her own family affected her. These thoughts began to lead her in the direction of doing research on family communication, but such a broad topic barely felt like a starting point, until she arranged to meet with professor Harry Weger, whose area of expertise is family communication.

After talking with him, Kjosa decided to take a leap into the unknown. It was no simple task, but she persisted with a firm determination.

Her final thesis “The Influence of Family Communication Styles on Campus Experience in College-Aged Children,” sought to investigate the effects that family communication patterns (FCPs) have on campus experience and participation. The study found that conversation-based communication impacts a student more positively than conformity does negatively.

Kjosa was thrilled to have finally finished her thesis, but she wasn’t done just yet as she still had to defend her work during Student Research Week.

More than 800 students – a record-breaking number – shared their work during Student Research Week 2019. On April 4, the Showcase of Undergraduate Research Excellence (SURE) gave undergraduate students the chance to present their work during numerous poster sessions.

Kjosa defended her research at SURE and ended up winning the College of Sciences Judges’ Choice Award along with a $400 scholarship for her paper. Her thesis will be published through the university library and will soon be available to researchers worldwide through electronic databases.

“I’m super proud of her and all the work she’s put in,” Weger, who has become one of her mentors now, commented. “What little work I did in helping by putting her in the right direction, she capitalized on by doing excellent work, so it was easy to supervise her.”

For more than a decade, UCF has celebrated the endeavors of undergraduate and graduate students across disciplines during the first week of April. The goal of Student Research Week is to showcase how students’ research and creative scholarship enriches the learning experience, the community and makes a difference in the world.

“I recommend that every student of every major do Honors in the Major or some form of undergraduate research because even if you’re not looking to enter research as a career, college is all about developing your ability to think independently and create your own ideas. And that’s what research is,” Kjosa said. “There are different ways to do research – labs, surveys, field work, literature reviews. You just have to find something that you’re passionate about. The challenge is starting it because your topic often does change so much, but I think the key is to just really stick with it. Don’t give up.”

To learn more about the HIM program, check out their website.


This article was written by Iulia Popescu.