Student Learning Research Award Goes to PC Students

Mar, 2 2017


The conference was held on February 24 and 25 at Arizona State University in Tempe. Denning and Pewonka showcased their research in an oral presentation and poster format along with 20 additional undergraduate research projects from throughout Arizona.

The partnership and friendship between Denning and Pewonka began in a biology class at Phoenix College. They spent nearly a year collecting and analyzing data with assistance from principal investigator Dr. Amy Marin of Phoenix College, and Dr. Daniel Grunspan of Arizona State University.

“The use of digital textbooks is increasing rapidly in higher education and as students,” Pewonka says, “We really wanted to find out the best methods for studying and learning from these texts.”

Denning and Pewonka’s project asked Phoenix College students to take in a five-minute, digital passage from a textbook and then take a test. One group listened to the material, one group read it, and one group read and listened to the passage at the same time. Three additional groups listened to the passage while being distracted – some were asked to doodle, others watched a video simulating a car ride, and one group was asked to prepare a meal while listening to the passage.

Results concluded that reading the digital text was significantly better than listening to audio of the material. It was also determined that native English speakers were hurt more by distraction than non-native speakers, who were hurt more by solely listening.

Denning has recently been accepted to the School of Veterinary Medicine at St. George's University on the Island of Grenada, and will begin her graduate program this summer. Pewonka has transferred to ASU, and will pursue a career in medicine. Currently, they are organizing a trip to Djibouti Africa where they hope to lend medical and veterinary assistance. Both have discussed hopes of opening a non-profit offering medical care to animals and humans.

For more information on the Behavioral Sciences Department at Phoenix College, contact Amy Marin at 602-285-7266 or

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