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Polygence blog / Student Spotlights

High School Research Student Jasmita explores Connection Between Test Anxiety and Music

9 minute read

Jasmita is currently a Freshman attending UC-Riverside. In her research project, she designed, implemented and analyzed an experiment focused on the connection between test anxiety and music. The experience provided her with invaluable skills that she’s continuing to leverage outside of pure research.  

Please introduce yourself and tell us about your dream

My name is Jasmita Yechuri. I am a 1st year attending UC-Riverside.I am from Cupertino, California and attended Monta Vista High School.

My dream job would be to create human-centric applications of technology and business to solve social issues in the world.

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Ah, such an interesting goal! How did you first learn about Polygence and how does it fit into the big picture? 

I learned about Polygence through my high school counselor. After I did more research, I saw that some alumni from my high school completed research through Polygence as well!

I was always interested in many fields and during this time I was very interested in the intersection between technology and psychology. I was leaning towards the cognitive science track and when I saw that there were mentors that majored and focused their studies in Cognitive Science. I knew this program would be a great opportunity for me to explore cognitive science as well as writing a research paper from scratch - something I have never done before.

Ultimately, what did you choose to study and research? 

My project was about exploring “The intersection of test anxiety and listening to familiar or unfamiliar music affecting one's overall performance on a task.” 

What attracted you to this topic? What role did your mentor have in helping you develop your research question?

My mentor was well-versed in Cognitive science and writing research papers. So I knew this was the perfect opportunity for me to write something I was interested in and something she was sort of familiar with.

During the time of brainstorming ideas for my research project. I had a list of things that I was interested in and wanted to explore. We were originally planning to focus on the idea of how the familiarity of music can affect how you perform during a task. Because I always work while listening to music, I thought it would be a great topic to do more research in. As we were diving deeper, my mentor thought it would also be a great idea to add the intersection of test anxiety levels and music to see the overall results while retaining information and performing on a certain topic.

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Very cool! Sounds like they were a wonderful partner in developing your idea. How did you design your experiment to answer this question?

The structure of my experiment was to start off by gathering all the data. I had a few friends complete a google form that had 3 parts. The first part was to complete 10 SAT grammar questions while selecting from 4 options of playlists with songs that they are familiar with. The 2nd part was to repeat the process but answer 10 different grammar questions with unfamiliar songs. After this portion, there was a set of 15 questions (based on other research that helped declare if someone has test anxiety or not) that asked the experimenter to rank their feelings on a scale of 1-5 based on how they felt while taking tests in general. The first 2 parts were used to check if the familiarity of music had any affect on answering questions. The 3rd part was to see if the person had test anxiety or not. 

After collecting all the data, I then used Jaasp to create graphs and tables. This helped with finding if there were correlations between certain variables. Based on the results then I was able to complete my research paper, providing graphs and tables in my paper as well.

In the end, my experiment had a null result but I do plan to go back to this experiment and change a few things and try it again, such as: having a larger data set instead of just 20 people. With the knowledge I have gained after running my own experiment, I am confident in my abilities to do it again and have it more refined!

Is this something you’re still interested in pursuing? What are you doing with the skills/knowledge you gained during the project?

Unfortunately, this is not a topic I am still pursuing. But there are several aspects of the project that have taught me so many skills. Such as, using jaasp, excel, organizing a research project, collecting data, and more!

Tell us more about your mentor and the relationship you developed

My mentor was Macrina and UCLA PhD graduate. She helped me so much in guiding me throughout the process. Research was something that was completely new to me but she helped me throughout the process explaining the necessary steps that would have to be taken and providing resources so that I could learn on my own and  apply it to the research. 

I was also able to form a real connection with my mentor during the sessions. She even wrote a rec letter for me when it came to college admissions. Even now, I am still in contact with her and talk to each other once in a while. 

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I love hearing that you have an enduring connection! Walk us through a typical session together:

During every session, we would just start off by checking in on one another. Then we would talk about the progress that has been made and what we want to achieve in the current meeting and future meetings. We made sure there were deadlines so that everything was on track. We would then go over any problems/concerns/questions and discuss that topic in depth. She would also provide a few resources during the meeting which we would go over and discuss about how I could apply that into my research project as well!

It sounds like you were able to develop a nice cadence. I’m curious - how would you say the Polygence learning experience differs from others that you’ve encountered?

You get to apply your knowledge in a real-world setting/problem. Unlike school, Polygence is where you are doing all the learning on your own with the guidance of a mentor. You learn on your own, apply it and learn from others as well. The satisfaction of completing a project knowing you learned everything on your own is also a very thrilling experience.

I’m so glad you were able to have that feeling of ownership. What would you say was the most memorable part of your Polygence experience?

There was a whole team who was looking out for me. It was not just my mentor who was making sure that the process was smooth, but the whole Polygence team constantly asked for feedback and made sure to check-in on the students to make sure we were having the best experience possible.

That’s what we like to hear. What difficult moments did you encounter? 

At times I was discouraged because of how my research was turning out to be - null. But my mentor provided me with the support and reassured me with the fact that not all project come out with positive results. This is when you come back try again and change a few variables. This is when I learned persevering was very important. I then learned that having null results is not a bad thing and continued to work on drafting my research paper.

What 3 adjectives describe how Polygence made you feel?

Collaborative, Innovative, Optimistic 

How would you compare Polygence with other extracurricular activities you were doing at the time? 

Polygence was something where it was guided - you get to actually work with someone on a project that has a lot of knowledge and is willing to help you explore and learn more. It’s a space where not only we get to learn but the mentors are also learning, which is really nice because it feels like you are working on this project with a friend. 

We know you’re at UC-Riverside now. What role do you think your experience at Polygence played in getting you where you are now?

I believe showing that I did research in high school demonstrated that I was a strong candidate because it showed that I was able to collaborate with others. It also showed that I was able to identify a problem and address it by evaluating resources and coming up with an effective solution. And I believe that is a very important quality to have.

Did you end up talking about the project on your application? 

Overall I personally believe I finished my project learning so much - learning tools that I never knew that existed - learning more about what it takes to conduct a research. So on my resume, I mentioned how I worked with a UCLA PhD graduate student to write a research paper about “The intersection of test anxiety and listening to familiar or unfamiliar music affecting one's overall performance on a task.” 

I also included the tools that I used to conduct the research to show the skills that I applied/learned.

We’re all wishing you the best of luck! What advice would you give to those who want to do a research project? 

I think this is a great opportunity for you to explore topics that interest you. Remember that based on the efforts you put in, your hard work will pay off and you’ll walk away with something you’re very proud of. Even if it can be hard at times, make sure to persevere and ask for help when you need it. Mentors are more than willing to help! 

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