For many parents, reading a manual on how to install a car seat for infants and small children can be a frustrating experience. Niruba Rasuratnam wants to make the exercise more efficient.
The Brock master’s student in the Department of Applied Disability Studies is researching how video prompting can help people easily install a car seat into a vehicle. Video prompting is a form of instruction where a task is broken down into small steps with the step being viewed, and performed, right after each clip.
“The focus here is an application of the science of behaviour analysis,” says Rasuratnam. “We’re trying to show that a video prompting procedure with embedded safety checks creates a change in behaviour.”
Supporting Rasuratnam’s work is funding from the Match of Minds grant program, a Brock University initiative designed to provide research employment opportunities for students.
Now accepting applications for 2023, Match of Minds encourages the development of skills and abilities of students for future employment and improves the quality of research assistants available to faculty researchers at the graduate level. The program offers up to $5,000 for student employment.
“Match of Minds invests in our students’ futures by exposing them to hands-on research methods and mentorship,” says Vice-President, Research Tim Kenyon. “This opportunity can open up pathways for research careers down the road.”
Kimberley Zonneveld, Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Disability Studies, supervised Rasuratnam’s Match of Minds research last summer.
“The video prompting strategy we developed to teach parents and prospective parents to correctly install car seats and harness an infant sized doll worked well and relatively quickly for all folks,” she says of Rasuratnam’s preliminary results.
Rasuratnam says her results so far suggest that participants pay more attention to the videos and the embedded safety checks rather than the written manuals, which seems to suggest that car seat manufacturers may consider creating video tutorials rather than relying solely on written manuals.
“Looking at the statistics, you wouldn’t believe how many children are injured or killed because this isn’t done correctly,” she says. “If you look at the data I collected, you can actually see how quickly people pick up skills to install car seats through these videos.”
Applications for this year’s Match of Minds are now being accepted through an online portal accessible to students’ supervisors, who start the application process. The deadline for applications is Friday, March 10 at noon.
The two-part application requires supervisors to first submit their portion, which will then see an e-mail notification sent to students to complete their section. The Office of Research Services recommends that the applicant and the student review the Match of Minds Program Syllabus 2023 before beginning the application process.