ASPIRE Students Succeed As Undergraduate Researchers

ASPIRE students participated at all levels of undergraduate research, working with faculty and community partners to examine issues that include race and the environment, international comparisons of mathematics teaching strategies, poetry and spoken word as important formats for social justice protest, as well as the importance of scaffolding self-regulated learning to improve student achievement.

The following features highlight the range of the work and allow us to renew our pride in the achievements of ASPIRE students:

Ellenie Cruz, a senior English Education major, conducted her first summer research project. Professor Shuaib Meacham is her research mentor.

This research project examines the role of spoken word, specifically spoken word poetry, and its abilities to conjure social change amongst communities and individuals in our current time. A portion of this research focuses spoken word poetry in the African American and Latino Freedom and equal rights movements, in the United States, to decipher the role of spoken word in historical movements.  The observation of historical events has contributed to the construction of theoretical framework that explains how spoken word poetry played a role in social change movements, and how it continues to play a role in contemporary efforts to foster social change. Based upon the factors delineated in the theoretical framework, data analysis of secondary data, observation, interviewing and fieldwork, was conducted to examine the extent to which those factors are present in contemporary practices of spoken word poetry and culture. 

My findings show that though the origin of spoken word is rooted in story telling and African culture, it has grown to not only tell stories but also create change and awareness amongst many communities of various backgrounds.  So much so that people now gather to hear spoken word poetry performed at events that are marketed for specific causes that will help uplift and strengthen communities. As a prospective educator this study will be used to aid in future research that will allow the incorporation of spoken word into Language Arts curriculums to not only enhance student engagement, but to change school culture and improve retention rates for urban students.

Anh Nguyen continued her work with Dr. Carol Wong, in a study that she has been working on for at least two years, entitled: What motivates adolescents’ use of self-regulatory processes to learn effective note-taking skills?

Effective note-taking is an important lifelong learning skill but many individuals complete high school without developing effective note-taking skills. This study will examine the influence of motivation and self-regulatory processes on the development of note-taking skills. Students who will be participating in a high-school college readiness program (Advancement Via Individual Determination or AVID) will be invited to participate in the study. Students from the AVID program will be selected because AVID explicitly teaches students note-taking skills. Data will be collected through questionnaires, face-to-face interviews, and analysis of students’ notes. The results will look at the relation between (a) self-motivation beliefs, such as self-efficacy, and (b) note-taking behaviors and note-taking quality. The results will also describe the association between (a) self-regulatory processes, such as metacognition, and (b) note-taking behaviors and note-taking quality. This study is important because it will provide possible explanations for why some students do not develop effective note-taking skills. These findings may be helpful for improving instruction of note-taking skills.  

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