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Education News: The NSF Approved a Grant For UB Researchers To Study Nonverbal Gestures in Group Learning


Research Grant Approved for UBGoir at Getty Images

In local education news, The National Science Foundation (NSF) has approved a grant for the University at Buffalo's research to study how nonverbal gestures impact group success in STEM education. Although many studies have been conducted about nonverbal gestures and the dynamics of group learning, much is not known about how nonverbal gestures instead of verbal communication affect group learning.

Unlike verbal communication, nonverbal gestures can be evident in intention and meaning or vague. Students may react differently to the same gestures based on their life experiences, backgrounds, and understanding of a particular gesture. This is why this type of research is critical.

Like most research projects, this is a particular endeavor. The researchers will only study how nonverbal gestures affect or shape problem-solving skills and abilities in STEM students. This means the only students that will be looked at in this research will be those enrolled in STEM classes – Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The grant approved for the researchers at The University at Buffalo for this project is almost $500,000.00.

According to the University at Buffalo's press release by Marcene Robinson,

"The researchers will observe how students exchange and interact with each other's gestures while working together. They also will identify and characterize the nonverbal behaviors as beneficial or harmful to group success, and create a comprehensive catalogue of gesture types."

The NSF and Research Grants

The National Science Foundation was founded on May 10, 1950. The NSF has an annual budget of over 8 billion dollars. If you want to know more about the type of things they have helped researchers study, there is a fascinating fact sheet they published. It breaks down the numbers and gives multiple specific examples, both broad and specific. The general categories of this fact sheet are the following:

  • Advancing Science and Engineering Research in the US and Abroad
  • Supporting World-Class Research Facilities and Infrastructure
  • Expanding The Science and Engineering Workforce
  • Accelerating the Exchange Between Lab and Market

Their website is also jam-packed with information. If you are new to the world of education grants and research, you might be interested in learning more about the NSF. You can do a funding search to see current opportunities that can be applied for.

UB and Research Opportunities

Many people who did not attend UB (as well as current and former students) do not realize that UB is a research school. They have not cracked the top 50 research educational facilities yet, but it is only a matter of time.

On their website, you can always check out their undergraduate research opportunities; if interested, start there.

You might be surprised to learn that not only is UB a research school, but students and non-students can look for funding and research scholarships.

The University of Buffalo has more than 100 active research centers. You can look up these centers by category, alphabetical, or by the school. For instance, they have university-wide research centers but also have specific centers for the following schools:

  • Arts and Sciences
  • Education
  • Architecture and Planning
  • Dental Medicine
  • Engineering and Applied Sciences
  • Law
  • Management
  • Medicine and Biomedical Studies
  • Nursing
  • Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Studies
  • Health and Health Professions
  • Social Work

The centers are also unique and varied, with these research facilities covering all the different majors and educational programs they offer. Some examples of these research centers are:

Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Center for Relationship Marketing Hunter James Kelly Research Institute Toxicology Research Center Center for Assistive Technology Immigrant and Refugee Research Institute Institute for Sustainable Global Engagement Institute on Trauma and Trauma-Informed Care Electronic Poetry Center Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Center Confucius Institute Center for Disability Studies Center for Urban Studies Buffalo Human Rights Center Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy Buffalo Criminal Law Center

For more information or to look deeper at some of these programs, check out their page on research center schools.

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