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Pforzheimer Honors College

2012 Honors Independent Research Abstracts

Lisa Bharat

Mentor: Dr. Teresa Lant
Title: How Does Employee Motivation Affect Employee Retention?
Abstract: Retention in the workplace is a major factor for many companies. Motivation is the key variable to keep retention rates high within a company. To satisfy employee needs in our competitive environment, it is important to have team engagement and to help maximize retention rates through assessment, feedback, and ongoing support. This study investigates which motivational factors work for employees affiliated with different types of organizations - - whether corporate or private. The objectives identified focus on extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, work atmosphere, and job level. Surveys were taken by men and women of various ages and at different career levels. The results showed the categories that motivated people the most, enabling employers to boost retention rates.

Michelle Birch

Mentor: Dr. Maria T. Luskay
Title: The Search for a Hero
Abstract: Research, writing, production planning, filming, and editing are just some of the things that are involved in the making of a successful profile piece. Inspired by my internship with CNN Heroes, I will discuss the steps involved in making a profile piece for television. I have spotlighted my own "hero," Camille Loccisano, who started "Frankie’s Mission" in honor of her son Frankie who died from pediatric cancer. Loccisano now gives grants to children of all ages battling pediatric cancer. My video showcases Loccisano and her work.

Diana Cavallo

Mentor: Dr. Rebecca Martin
Title: From Page to Screen: The Digital Takeover of Magazines?
Abstract: This research focuses on whether or not digital magazines have actually taken over the magazine publishing industry. Many industry professionals and magazine readers are under the impression that traditional, print magazines are a "dying art" and, as such, are members of the current economic downfall. To determine whether this perception is substantiated, I examined the issues of circulation and subscription, credibility, demographics, content expansion, cost efficiency/productivity, and user experience in digital magazines as opposed to their print versions.

Gianni DiFroscia

Mentor: Dr. Ronald Filante
Title: Mortgage Crisis: Truth about the Subprime Market/Finance/Mortgages
Abstract: Prime mortgages helped leverage certain MBS pools (pass throughs) and because of this not all mortgage security pools preformed poorly. Many think that the introduction of subprime mortgage loans (circa 2001) into the loan market was the main cause of the downfall. This paper primarily investigates two things: 1. whether the introduction of the subprime mortgages has as strong an effect as many believe, and 2. the role negative equity played in foreclosures 2006-2008 and how this relates to the downfall of the housing market. Individuals who were highly likely to default on their mortgage loans, in both subprime and prime categories, were never-the-less granted loans.

Lotus Feliz

Mentor: Dr. Joseph Pastore
Title: Job Security and our Current Work Force
Abstract: The current economic dismay has led to an unstable job market and decreased opportunity for graduating college seniors entering the workforce. Technological advances paired with job outsourcing have added to the instability of the job market. Considering Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and its characterization of security/stability as a fundamental need, the lack of stability in the job market is a major concern to those entering the work force. Job security is linked to organizational loyalty and performance, and is thus a concern for both employees and employers. Through a review of the literature as well as survey data, this research examines the extent to which job security is valued by college graduates, even to the point they are willing to sacrifice their ambitions for the "ideal" job, robust compensation packages, or positions which reflect their education and skill sets. The results of the study offer insight into both the social-psychology of the next generation of employees and to the risks faced by employers who seek highly motivated employees eager to develop professionally as well as to remain loyal to the firm.

Molly Forman

Mentor: Dr. Maria T. Luskay
Title: A Study of an Effective News Medium: Producing the TV News Magazine Story
Abstract: As technology rapidly advances, there has been a definite corresponding shift in how news is relayed to the public. The delivery of hard news and features has changed in a way that has impacted most local dailies and small magazines; by the time printed issues are published, the news stories are just as recycled as the paper on which they were printed. The changing future of print newspapers and magazines may lead to the supremacy of broadcast and online news venues. This research project entailed an intensive course given by Maine Media Workshops designed to address this shift to broadcast news. The workshop "Producing the TV News Magazine Story" taught students to direct and produce these segments, develop the story content and ideas, enhance their writing style and structure, highlight dramatic content, and perfect the pace of the final edit.

Christine Leone

Mentor: Prof. Paul Kurnit
Title: Media, Body Image and Body Trends
Abstract: The fashion industry today uses models in their advertisements who are very thin, overtly sexual, and unnatural. While marketers believe that showing these models will make women more likely to buy their products, they deny that their advertisements influence body trends to impressionable young women - - with detrimental effects. I have conducted a study that proves their influence on "acceptable" body types over time, and the harmful effects they cause to women aged 18-22. Through surveys and focus groups, I have tested three hypotheses on body trends, healthy versus unhealthy images, and buying patterns based on the fashion industry’s advertisements. I have developed suggestions for the fashion industry to consider implementing in future advertisements so the pattern of negative effects on women will come to an end.

Jessica Miller

Mentor: Dr. Francine Falk-Ross
Title: Creating a Caring Classroom Environment
Abstract:This study determined why a caring environment is essential to nurturing learners and how to create this type of environment. Research focused on the Responsive Classroom approach used by teachers across the country. Through observations and readings an assessment was made of its use in the classroom and its affects on children. Also examined are the many anti-bullying programs put into place as bullying has reached high levels in today’s schools. Through careful planning, a classroom teacher can create a student-centered community of students. By setting this standard through their behaviors and expectations of the students, a teacher can make all students feel welcome. A caring classroom is highly personalized to the needs of the students. Creating a caring classroom is knowing the students, and encouraging trusting relationships between the teacher and each student, as well as between the students.

Douglas Pope

Mentor: Dr. Sylvester Tuohy
Title: Game Programming in C#
Abstract: This project involved taking a game template downloaded from Microsoft’s website and enhancing it. The template is for a game in which the player controls a catapult that flings a pumpkin down the game field, the objective being to throw the pumpkin as far as possible. I have fixed a potential problem I found in the C# coding of the template. New feature ideas for the game include weather, falling rocks as obstacles, better controls, and allowing the player to change the display resolution of the game. Adding the new features and fixing the problems that will appear in the process require C# coding and graphic work.

John Thorp

Mentor: Dr. Carl Malinowski
Title: Social Media Marketing for Bars and Restaurants
Abstract: The bar and restaurant industry relies, not only on the consumption of food and drink, largely on the interactions between people. It is only natural that social media, a platform that allows people to interact even when engaged in personal contact, would be a forum advantageous to bars and restaurants. I hypothesize that people who use social media attend bars and restaurants more frequently than those who do not. In the bar and restaurant business creating customer loyalty is key. Social media provides bars and restaurants a medium by which they can promote customer loyalty through persistent, yet affordable, advertising. By using Twitter and Facebook, bars and restaurants allow the customer to develop a more personal relationship with the establishment. This study demonstrates that people who interact with bars and restaurants on Twitter and Facebook attend that establishment more frequently than people who do not.