UA Announces Winners of Three Minute Thesis Competition

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama recently held the final round of its annual Three Minute Thesis competition, and a graduate student in the department of educational studies in psychology, research, methodology and counseling took home first place honors.

Territa Poole, of Chicago, won first place for her dissertation pitch titled “Learning, Problem-solving and the Confusion Conundrum.”

Poole will travel to the Conference of Southern Graduate School’s Three Minute Thesis regionals in Maryland this spring to deliver her presentation.

The 3MT competition challenged doctoral and master’s students to explain their extensive research in a concise but compelling 180-second oration suitable for a general audience.

This year’s final round consisted of 15 graduate students who competed for a chance to win monetary awards to be used for academic support and research and conference travel.

Poole’s research focused on the role of confusion in problem-solving and how different factors interact to make the emotion beneficial for learning. In a preliminary study with college students, she found those who are not overly concerned with proving their intelligence are more likely to interpret confusion as a helping thinking emotion. And this group of students performed better than others on the set of problem-solving tasks used in the study.

Yogendra Patil, a doctoral student in electrical and computer engineering, won second place for his dissertation pitch, “E = F²: Let’s Revolutionize the way we do Exercise.”

Third place went to Tuscaloosa native Steven Yates, a doctoral candidate in educational leadership, policy and technology studies, for his presentation, “Adjuncts: The Online Teaching Majority.”

Doctoral student Quentin Maynard, of Miami, won fourth place for his social work dissertation, “What happens when the request for a hastened death is denied?”

Poole also won the People’s Choice Award, which was determined by audience vote.

The Three Minute Thesis, now in its fourth year at UA, is an interdisciplinary academic competition that celebrates the research being conducted by graduate students.

The competition was originally developed by The University of Queensland and serves as a professional development exercise that gives students the opportunity to clarify and crystallize their research ideas and discoveries while honing their presentation and communication skills.

The work of the 15 students who participated in the final competition will be shared through a 90-minute television special, created by the Center for Public Television, that capsulizes the competition and will include behind-the-scenes features and biographic backstories on several participants.


Derek Hooper, student writer, media relations, 205/348-5320; Chris Bryant, UA media relations,