(From left to right) Supervised by Associate Professor Benjamin Hill Detenber, Looi Jie Min (CS ‘16), Abigail Chua (CS ‘16), Alisius Leong (CS ‘16) and Damian Gan (CS ‘16) is the first group of undergraduates in WKWSCI to have won the top student paper award in the Communication and Technology division. PHOTO COURTESY OF: Looi Jie Min
The Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information is well-known in the field of communications, especially at the International Communication Association (ICA), where the school has won numerous awards over the years. For the first time, a group of undergraduates have won the top student paper award in the Communication and Technology division, alongside several other winning papers submitted by fellow students and faculty members.
The group, comprising recent graduates Damian Gan (CS ‘16), Looi Jie Min (CS ‘16), Alisius Leong (CS ‘16) and Abigail Chua (CS ‘16), submitted its Final Year Project last November to ICA under the student category of Communications and Technology division. Their paper examines how user-generated comments influence user evaluations and attitudes towards YouTube videos and their subject matter.
Typically, undergraduates will pair with a faculty member, and their research paper will be submitted with a faculty co-author, but these papers are not be eligible for a student award.
The chances of papers that are written solely by undergraduates being accepted into ICA are “very, very rare,” said Associate Professor Benjamin Hill Detenber, the group’s supervisor, who specialises in media research.
“If you say you are from Singapore at the conference, people will ask if you are from the Nanyang Technological University."
Professor Ang Peng Hwa
Founded in 1950, ICA is an academic association for scholars who are interested in researching on all aspects of human and mediated communication. With approximately twenty divisions in ICA, Communications and Technology is one of the largest and most competitive category. Within each division, three or four papers are chosen for the top paper award.
New to the experience of submitting a research paper for an academic conference, the winning team was pleasantly surprised to have been granted the Top Student Paper award. “This achievement would not have been possible without the help of Dr Detenber and Professor Joe Walther,” said Looi, highlighting the valuable feedback and guidance from the two professors that made their FYP journey smooth and fruitful. Professor Joseph Bart Walther is an Associate Chair of WKWSCI, who is a pioneer and leading researcher in computer-mediated communication.
“It’s good for the students’ work to have a life after FYP, because they put in so much time and effort into it,” said Dr Detenber. “We want it to have a life after their final year project.”
Papers that are submitted to the ICA conference are usually by faculty members or graduate students. Despite that, WKWSCI is one of the few schools that nominates undergraduates for the conference.
“If you say you are from Singapore at the conference, people will ask if you are from the Nanyang Technological University,” said Professor Ang Peng Hwa, who is a faculty member at WKWSCI and the ICA’s first Asian President. Professor Ang was also a previous Dean of the school. “Our school has the highest participation rate and acceptance rate.”
In the future, Professor Ang hopes that more students will step forward to submit their research papers and to uphold WKWSCI’s exceptional reputation at the ICA.