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Friday, March 22, 2019

Academics & Research

Recent graduate honored for learning efficiency research


Out of 70 applicants for the American Society for Training and Development scholarship, seven were chosen, one of which is a recent College of Technology duel-Master’s alumna.

The scholarship will provide Reena Sonigrah with an expensive membership, which will provide her a year’s access to an extensive research database. Her research, which involves improving the efficiency of learning, will help her be efficient in her own project, she said.

“I wrote about how I wanted to create an online infrastructure where people can have complete access with the click of a button. It’s a tough infrastructure to build. It involves a lot of thinking; it involves a lot of customization, data curation. So this is why I used ASTD and they kind of liked the idea. I was very excited when I got the email that, out of 70 students, six other students were chosen,” Sonigrah said.

“(Students) have so many things going on at the same time. How do you maximize your resources?”

Sonigrah graduated in December, and she said her time as a student was extremely busy. Over the course of her three years, Sonigrah earned two Master’s degrees — one in technology project management and another in human resource development — and had a son.

Additionally, she volunteered for on-campus organizations and with a group of undergraduate female students.

Sonigrah said it is essential that students figure out what they enjoy and how to do it before they invest time and energy into a degree.

“I spoke with these girls and they told me that they didn’t like what they were studying and that they were hoping to shift. It’s really hard. They might actually lose a year or two years. I thought, ‘Oh, then my study will be valuable to everybody,’” Sonigrah said.

Figuring out how to analyze something as subjective as how people learn is not simple, she said. For that, Sonigrah said she used surveys to help students understand how they learn. Now, she said she hopes to create a computer game that will provide a similar function.

“(The survey) doesn’t necessarily tell you what will work for you. We can write awesome algorithms to say if you do a set of things this will be the output, but the intuition that really comes by a lot of practice a lot of analysis and introspective, I want to be able to provide that,” Sonigrah said.

“I think creating digital games is the best way for people to learn who they are. It’s fun. In the end, he or she will think, ‘I’m just playing a game,’ but they get very valuable feedback and will realize their learning style. It will help them to reflect on what they like or don’t like and how they can channel their energy.”

Sonigrah is doing research with a UH professor to help companies search for and train employees for a technology called Smart Grid, an automated data collector, which is making headway in some businesses.

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