Mass. -- The 2004 Ruhlman Conference, representing the
work of nearly 300 Wellesley College students, will be
held all day Wednesday, April 28. The conference, now
in its eighth year, helps to foster collaboration among
students and faculty across academic disciplines while
enhancing the intellectual life of the College.
researchers present their work in a variety of formats:
papers, panels, posters, exhibitions, musical
and theatrical performances, interactive teaching presentations
and readings of original work. The day is organized around
four major themes: Literature and the Arts, Multicultural
Research, Science and Technology, and Social Analysis.
Under the theme of Social Analysis, for example, 18 presentations
are planned on topics ranging from “Free Trade Goes
to Broadway” to “The Marriage Debates.” Under
Literature and the Arts, students will present 15 topics
including a performance of “Gods, Awful Aunts and
researchers study subjects that are close to their hearts
and often their experience. For example, senior
Kristen Soderberg's project, "Peer Effects of Roommates
at Wellesley," studied the peer effects -- or influence
-- that college roommates have on one another's success.
Her faculty advisor for the project was Wellesley College
economist Patrick J. McEwan.
"Education economists are interested in studying
the peer effects of students on their classmates as a means
of explaining a component of student achievement and behavior," Soderberg,
an economics major, explained. "Under normal circumstances,
however, peer effects studies are plagued by selection
bias. We choose with whom we associate, and to some extent,
which neighborhoods we live in and which schools our children
attend. In this sense, Wellesley College presents a unique
opportunity to study peer effects. Incoming first year
(students) are randomly assigned roommates based on their
responses to a housing preference survey form. Thus, the
problem of selection bias is removed."
Soderberg combined information from the housing surveys
for the classes of 2003 through 2006 with other data from
admission and the students' grade point average (GPA) files.
"By using such measures as SAT score and cumulative
GPA, I am able to define the role that peer effects play
in the achievement of Wellesley students," said Soderberg,
whose research was supported by the National Science Foundation's
Awards for the Integration of Research and Education (NSF-AIRE)
summer research program.
Another Wellesley senior, Sarah Reeves, working with Wellesley
psychology professor Beth Hennessey, studied how students
see themselves academically and the effect this has on
how they apply to college.
"I chose this topic because of an interesting result
found last year in a study conducted for a psychology research
methods class," said Reeves, who is majoring in psychology
and French. It seems students who had more negative feelings
about their academic abilities were more likely to apply
to college under the early decision program rather than
the regular admission process.
The conference is made possible by the Barbara Peterson
Ruhlman Fund for Interdisciplinary Study. From 9:30 am-6
pm, presentations will take place in Collins Cinema, Davis
Museum, Jewett, Library Book Arts Room, Pendleton, and
the Science Center. The conference includes a community
wide lunch on the Academic Quad and refreshments before
and after sessions. For more information and a schedule
of events, go to www.wellesley.edu/DeanCollege/Ruhlman/home.html.
Since 1875, Wellesley College has been a leader in providing
an excellent liberal-arts education for women who will
make a difference in the world. Its 500-acre campus near
Boston is home to 2,300 undergraduate students from all
50 states and 68 countries. For more information, go to