Library Awards for Research Excellence recipients announced

Mount Royal University recognizes outstanding scholarly projects

The fifth-annual Library Awards for Research Excellence have recognized three individuals for their exceptional scholarly projects. This year prizes were awarded in the senior and group categories, with separate committees judging each category. Each committee consisted of two Library faculty members and three external faculty members.

Assistant Professor and Librarian Sara Sharun was on the senior category selection committee and was impressed by the high-quality submissions.

“Many students demonstrated well-developed information literacy in their awareness of valuable information sources, understanding of where and how to find them, ability to critically evaluate them, and ultimately integration of these sources in really creative and insightful ways to their research projects,” Sharun says.

Senior Award

Photo of Vanessa Boila.

Bachelor of Arts alumna Vanessa Boila took home the Senior Award at the fifth-annual Library Awards for Research Excellence.

Bachelor of Arts ― Psychology (Honours) graduate Vanessa Boila took home the Senior Award for her project, The Mere Presence of a Cell Phone and Academic Ability.

Boila’s goal was to understand if the presence of a cellphone in the classroom, or during a learning related task, negatively impacted academic performance. She says that previous studies on cellphone presence have primarily focused on completing tasks that require little to no prior knowledge.

Her research targets cellphone presence (i.e., when a cellphone is visible, but not actively in use) to determine its effect on the demonstration of pre-existing comprehension, spelling, and mathematics skills.

“The study evaluated 45 participants who were enrolled in an introductory psychology course at the University or who were members of the general public,” Boila says. She explains that during testing, half of the participants had their cellphones present and the other half did not.

“Statistical analyses revealed that when a cellphone belonging to a participant was merely present, there was no statistically significant difference in the demonstration of pre-existing skills compared to when a cellphone was removed.”

She goes on to say that unexpectedly, a non-significant trend was observed in the opposite direction where the cellphone-present group outperformed the cellphone-absent group.

Boila was inspired to follow up on this research topic after reading a claim on Psychology Today stating that cognitive capacity may be reduced when in the presence of a cellphone.

“I was very intrigued by this claim, especially because I previously worked as a full-time teacher, so I wanted to learn more about cellphone presence,” said Boila.

Group Award

Photo of Amy Rintoul and Sara Czerwonka.

Sara Czerwonka, left, and Amy Rintoul presented their research to their cohort and community members at an information design year-end capstone event called Humanly.

The Group Award was presented to fourth-year information design students Amy Rintoul and Sara Czerwonka. The duo collaborated on a project named Navigating Calgary by Bike. Specifically, they focused on how to reduce barriers that prevent Calgarians from embracing cycling as a form of sustainable transportation.

“The goal of our research was to focus-in on one of the United Nations Sustainability Goals and go in-depth to understand how that goal is or is not being achieved at a local level, as well as all of the stakeholders that are involved in progress toward that goal,” Czerwonka says.

The pair focused on Goal 11: Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Their findings were collected through the creation of an annotated bibliography and interviewing subject matter experts. The information obtained from these processes aided in unravelling the complexity of cycling in Calgary.

Their research explained that mapping out the barriers that cyclists face was the first step in being able to identify leverage points in the system.

The team was proud to be recognized for this project, and a little surprised.

“We decided last minute to submit our research, but we were both very proud of the work we put into this project,” said Rintoul. “It’s great to have our work recognized in this way.”

Czerwonka said that as a cyclist, this topic engaged her on a personal level.

“Being able to connect with so many people who are passionate about utility cycling as part of our research was a wonderful experience, and it really solidified my own passion for the topic at hand.”

Prior to the Library Awards submission, the duo presented their research to their cohort and community members at an information design year-end capstone event called Humanly.

Rintoul said that the duo were able to generate meaningful conversations with both cyclists and non-cyclists at Humanly.

Library Awards for Research Excellence: Past winner profiles are available online.

May 12, 2020 — Rob Petrollini

Media request contact information.
Have a story idea? Please fill out this form.