top of page

Harvard Graduate School of Education︱Master︱Personal Statement

What takes you to pursue a Master degree in Harvard Graduate School of Education?

Harvard Graduate School of Education︱Master︱Personal Statement

“What does it mean to promote a better learning experience for young children? What
evidence-based intervention and prevention programs are most effective to promote early academic success? Can informal learning be effective in supporting students’ formal learning...?”

As a student majoring in Psychology and Early Childhood and Family Studies and minoring in Music, finding answers to the above questions has triggered my interest in pursuing a Master’s Degree in Human Development and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Working as an early art program director has long been my career goal because I could make a difference by supporting children’s positive learning through interesting programs. As an educator, I understand how art-integrated programs could not only strengthen children’s development in important life skills but also promote students’ success in standard academic areas. I strongly believe that the diverse personalized academic pathways and the intensive training opportunities provided by HGSE would make my education here an important next step to reach my professional goals.

I grew up as an only child in a loving family in Taiwan with parents who never hesitate in
investing in my diverse learning experience. Since preschool, my parents have allowed me to explore my interests through various talented classes such as music, painting, and dancing. With my active participation in these interesting fields, my childhood was like a treasure trove filled with valuable experiences. While I only knew how I enjoyed these classes when I was a child, it was not until I started my undergraduate years in the United States that I began to understand how my experiences in early art training may have positively led to my later academic success and how it is essential to popularize these kinds of art programs to benefit more young children in need.

The introductory course in my Early Childhood and Family Studies major has allowed me to explore my career interests from service-learning opportunities. During my time as a childcare volunteer at the YMCA, I noticed a child with autism who seldom talked or interacted with others. However, he really enjoyed doing art projects, and that was the only time he would make happy sounds and even make eye contact with us. I felt that art was the only media for him to interact with the people around him, which has made me wonder if he may be able to improve his verbal and social skills quickly through art training programs. This was the first time that I found myself interested in finding creative ways that fit children’s interests to support their needs.

During my time working as a kindergarten classroom assistant at [Privacy Blank] School, I got to see how art can also help create positive learning environments in general classrooms. The teacher in our class loved to teach through interesting activities such as visual art projects and songs. She believed that arts are necessary tools that could help promote children’s motivation in learning and facilitate their interaction with others, which can better prepare them for future academic success. This has led to my eagerness in learning about how integrating these kinds of informal learning into formal education curricula may facilitate children’s learning, both for those who are facing difficulties to catch up and for those who are on the right track to improve even more. To further explore these topics, the evidence-based training at HGSE would be necessary for me as it would allow me to understand the basics of human development and learning, which would later serve as the foundation of my exploration in the interdisciplinary fields of arts and education.

As the issues of children’s development and learning gradually permeated every part of my mind, I began to try taking interesting elective courses at the University of Washington to explore more different ways to support positive learning, such as Applied Behavior Analyses, Math for Elementary School Teachers, (Dis)ability and Arts, and Psychology and Music. These courses have allowed me to broadly and critically think about learning from the viewpoints of behaviorism, teaching, mental health, and art. I really love the idea of supporting students from a holistic view that addresses both their academic achievements and their psychological well-being using diverse intervention methods that address individual student’s interests. I am especially fond of the topics related to arts because arts can be amazing in helping students learn to share, explore, and even improve through brain plasticity and more. Thus, when I learned about the Human Development and Education Program and the Arts and Learning Concentration at HGSE, I realized that this pathway would be a perfect fit for me because not only would it allow me to understand the relationships between children’s learning, development, and art education more deeply but also arm me with necessary skills to design art programs that can reflect children’s diverse backgrounds and truly fulfill their needs.

To further broaden my experience in this area of expertise and prepare myself for future study in graduate school, I connected with [Privacy Blank] program at the University of Washington last winter and volunteered as a research assistant to help her doctoral student with her observational study about peer interaction as an intervention for children with autism. This was when I first learned about early intervention as well as observing and assessing behaviors in a classroom setting as a researcher. In spring, I further participated in a qualitative study in the Psychology Department about screening and early intervention in pediatric primary care and helped analyze the clinicians’ viewpoints about implementing this prevention and intervention program in their clinics. Through these research processes, I strengthened my critical thinking skills and deepened my knowledge in identifying evidence-based prevention and intervention programs that can be beneficial for children’s early life and learning. These valuable experiences have also motivated my interests in designing and implementing my own programs for young children in the future.

Building upon the concepts of prevention and intervention that I learned, I set the topic for my senior capstone this year on the effectiveness of early music training on language development. In my literature review, I found that early music education as well as other art programs have been supported in many previous studies to be significantly effective in promoting students’ later academic success, including but not limited to the aspects of verbal intelligence, speech perception, and reading ability. In my future study at HGSE, I hope to build upon what I found in my undergraduate research and continue learning about the positive effects of early art intervention programs on children’s development and formal schooling success. I am especially looking forward to learning more about early childhood education and early literacy development from Dr. [Privacy Blank] and the relationship between arts and education from [Privacy Blank]. With the resources available at HGSE and the instructions from the supportive faculty members, I am confident that I will be able to assist the professors in their area of research with my knowledge and skills and later design my own evidence-based art programs for the sake of promoting children’s better development and learning experiences.

With my rich experiences in child-related fieldwork settings and my interdisciplinary knowledge in human learning and arts, I believe the Human Development and Education Program at HGSE and I will suit each other well. Being my number one priority in the choice of programs, the pathway with courses reflecting the Foundation of How People Learn, the Program of Human Development and Education, and the Concentration of Arts and Learning is surely the best fit for my needs in developing the skills necessary to become an early art program director who values children’s early learning experiences from a holistic view. As a future graduate student, I would be really excited to contribute my expertise in the fields of psychology, education, and arts and my unique background as an international student to the warm and supportive community at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

bottom of page