Senior runs school study


Students in Senior Kismet Kohn’s case study on smartphone usage will be looking at this page in their settings much more often. Here, students can see how much time they are spending on their favorite apps and possibly make changes in their use habits.

Emma Kim, Layout Editor

While Senior Kismet Kohn toured colleges last spring, she heard about students standing out through conducting research studies and thought it would be exciting to run her own study. After returning from her college visits, Kohn immediately approached Fine Arts and Psychology Teacher Donna Walker with a proposal to conduct her own research at Trinity.
Walker has had students express interest in doing an independent research study before, but the farthest they had ever gotten was planning the details because it was too much of a time commitment and required too much work for the students. However, Kohn showed that she was excited and determined to run the project, so Walker decided to help her as the adviser for the study.
“It wasn’t just, ‘Hey, I want to beef up my resume,’” Walker said. “It was clear to me how passionate she was about it … Like some people would be interested in planning a vacation. Kismet plans research studies, apparently.”
Kohn originally wanted to run an experiment but decided to conduct a correlational study instead, since an experiment would be challenging to run, considering the cost and time restrictions. She discussed ideas with Walker, knowing that she wanted to cover something under the topic of psychology.
“There’s so many different subsections,” Kohn said. “There’s developmental psych, there’s social psych … Finally, I just basically thought about, ‘Well, what about psychology do I find interesting?’ I don’t want to do a research study on something that I don’t really care about because then it would feel more like a burden.”
After considering a variety of topics including false memories and attention differences in children and adults, Kohn decided to research the correlation between phone usage and teenage tendencies. She then formed an institutional review board (IRB), consisting of Guidance Counselor Christine Hempsted, Science Department Chair Max Meyer and Walker.
Kohn sent out consent forms in early October for students who wanted to participate in the study. Throughout this school year, the students that volunteered will be taking 5-10 minute surveys once a month, asking about app usage, GPA, sleep and social adjustment. Furthermore, every 10 days, screenshots of their social media and communication app usage will be recorded, as well as their GPAs at the end of each semester.
“The biggest thing that I want people to know that I’ve been trying to pitch it to is that this is nothing like the Independent Health Survey,” Walker said. “We’re not asking big heavy topics. The questions are fairly innocuous. It’s very light.”
Senior Nicholas Bergman, a participant in the study, is interested in learning how phone usage and GPA correlate. He said he has known Kohn since freshman year of high school and wanted to help her by joining the study.
“I think it’s really interesting, and it’s something that I wish was explored in more high schools and I’m glad that it’s being done in high school,” Bergman said.
Kohn said she considers this study as practice and a learning experience for herself and may decide to display the results at the Ying Expo in February next year. She also said that she will probably be doing more research involving similar topics since she wants to pursue clinical psychology.
“I want to be able to provide more research into this topic, especially since it’s a hot topic right now,” Kohn said. “I want it to be out there saying, ‘Even though I understand there are a ton of confounding variables, this is the research I have done to show the correlation between these topics.’”