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Student Co-op Experiences

Madison Miller

Madison Miller HeadshotMadison Miller is a Management PhD Candidate in the LeBow College of Business. She is in her third year of the program studying organizational behavior. With research interest in loneliness, meaningfulness, and inclusion, Madison is passionate about using research to make organizations better places for all people to work at. She also serves as a Graduate Research Fellow for Drexel Solutions Institute (DSI), contributing to research projects and teaching two undergraduate courses on research with industry.

Tell us about the project you were involved in.
Madison: Through DSI, I have worked on two projects and have recently joined a third. The first one involved determining how a nonprofit might use virtual reality to engage adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. With the second project, I had the opportunity to help lead Drexel’s first intercollegiate e-sports tournament in conjunction with exceptional colleagues, including Dr. Hongjun Ye, Dr. Raj Suri, and Dr. Lauren D’Innocenzo – and many other instrumental research assistants. We created the tournament as both a research platform and a student engagement opportunity. We designed the study to understand how team processes unfold over time, when various processes are most likely to emerge, and when various processes are most important in affecting team success outcomes (wins but also team satisfaction and desire to play in a team in the future). Lastly, I recently started working on a project involving how gender affects perceptions of e-sports performance in various settings.

What did you learn by working with external partners?
Madison: I gained hands-on experience running an e-sports tournament. I never thought I’d say that! I learned how to operate Discord (a social platform for voice and video calls, text messaging and media sharing in private chats or in community servers), recruit players, manage the logistics of creating matches, operate the games, manage participants (the players), and keep a team of research assistants operating in tandem. The logistics of running the tournament and managing the data collection process was so rigorous that we had to keep a line-by-line script so that each research assistant could easily know what to do next at each stage of the tournament. We are in the process of analyzing the mounds of data and preparing for next year’s tournament, and I have learned a great deal about complex data analysis through this process.

For you personally – what is the value of participating in projects that involve external partners?
Madison: Engaging in research with corporate partners creates a bridge between research and practice that both helps practitioners and researchers feel that our work does not remain in a vacuum of journal publication. While publishing is crucial for advancing science, it means a great deal to me when I can connect my research with other people. Whether company leaders, to influence their thinking and decisions, or employees to make them feel recognized and help them better understand their workplace. I was always drawn to psychology and sociology for this reason – it makes the complex and often intangible easier to understand, face, and address.

How has this opportunity impacted your Drexel experience?
Madison: My experience with DSI has given me invaluable experience running complex field research, engaging in dynamic problem-focused research, and working with large teams of researchers from various disciplines.

What was your favorite part about participating in this opportunity?
Madison: The most valuable part of this experience, to me, is the people. PhD programs can be lonely at times, so having the opportunity to engage in projects with students and faculty members from diverse academic, personal, and professional backgrounds has enriched my life.

Did participating in this project affect your career interests?
Madison: My experiences with DSI have helped prepare me for my future as an independent researcher and professor. Being able to lead a team of researchers on a complex field study has given me knowledge that I will carry with me into my future work. Teaching hands-on courses through DSI will also help to improve my teaching abilities and will enable me to provide similar experiences to students in my future teaching career after graduation.