Research Opportunities

I seek graduate and undergraduate students with an interest in conducting research on tech-assisted learning, communication, and marketing in relation to the more specific social issues like diversifying STEM education, health awareness and preventive practices, global food, and cross-cultural communication. To that end the following undergraduate research opportunities are available contingent upon successful submission and approval of a URP proposal:

  • Social Media Marketing¬†
  • Ethnocomputational Quilting
  • Generative Play
  • Image Design for Health Advocacy

The following are sample research projects conducted by undergraduate and graduate researchers at RPI under the supervision of Professor Audrey G. Bennett:

Increasing Exposure of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (undergraduate research project funded by HASS and matched by the Office of Undergraduate Education): What types of social media content related to promoting art and design programs in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences–particularly within the Department of Communication and Media–resonate with the target markets of prospective students and their parents along with current students? – Laura Antoniello

Diversifying STEAM (doctoral¬†dissertation): Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) pedagogy has been a topic of focus for researchers working with under-represented students such as African-Americans in the United States. Recent attempts to include “arts” in STEM pedagogy (adding an “A” to the acronym to make “STEAM”) include learning environments that combine math problems with arts activities such as drawing. However, questions remain regarding to what extent the STEAM movement addresses the challenge of increasing participation among under-represented students in STEM fields. Culturally-situated design tools (CSDTs) have been used extensively to examine the relationship between culture and math education through student simulation tools, such as the braiding of African and African-American cornrow hairstyles. This dissertation consists of a study involving four workshops conducted between 2011 and 2014, two of which seek to examine the impact of culturally-situated drawing on African-American student learning in math. Findings show that African-American students found different affordances, accommodations, constraints, and resistance in their learning experience using the Cornrow Curves CSDT to draw. These data are compared to data from other students using the CSDT to assess students’ success in understanding math concepts and in how the culturally-situated nature of the tool impacted their creative work. This study demonstrates the connection between culture and agency for African-American students in a STEAM-oriented, technology-mediated learning environment that incorporates diversity through culturally-situated examples (in this case, African cornrow hairstyles). This provides the basis for a proposed framework, STEAMD, which diversifies STEAM (adding a “D” to the acronym) through culturally-situated drawing. – Ray Lutzky

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