Ongoing Recruitment of Research Assistants (June 2018)

research themes

Undergraduate and Post-Baccalaureate RAs may apply for volunteer or paid positions regardless of experience level.
This team also qualifies as a BUILD EXITO RLC.

Dr. Karlyn Adams-Wiggins’ accepts applications for undergraduate research assistantships on the Identity in Sociohistorical Context (ISC@PDX) research team. The following project areas are currently being addressed by the ISC@PDX team. Download the application and submit it to Dr. Adams-Wiggins via email:

  1. Motivation in Context – Situated Achievement Goals
    How does learners’ motivation evolve in inquiry-based science collaborative learning activities? What reasons motivate middle schoolers’ engagement and disengagement in science classes? Dr. Adams-Wiggins and collaborator, Dr. Toni Rogat (Purdue University), use achievement goal theory to examine middle schoolers’ motivation in collaboration-intensive science learning contexts, including classrooms implementing Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). This project involves classroom video, student interviews, and surveys.
  2. Cultural Assets for Successful Transitions – Kindergarten Transitions
    How do families and pre-kindergarten classrooms interact to provide supportive contexts for successful transitions to Kindergarten for young children? Dr. Adams-Wiggins and collaborators, Dr. Andrew Mashburn and Dr. Maciel Hernández, use caregiver interviews, classroom observation data, and teacher surveys to explore assets for successful kindergarten transitions in the Portland area. Additionally, Dr. Adams-Wiggins explores cultural assets among African diaspora families using caregiver interviews from the Pacific Northwest and the U.S. Southeast.
  3. African Diaspora Identity Development in Sociohistorical Context
    How do sociohistorical and sociopolitical contexts inform how African diaspora adolescents and early adults come to understand themselves and their relationship with the world? Dr. Adams-Wiggins conceptualizes identity as socially constructed and rooted in interpersonal interactions; regional history, regional politics, and the broader historical and political context of the USA are expected to play important roles. Themes of respectability, gender, sexuality, and social class are of particular interest in understanding agency for Black youth. Study will later be expanded to include regions outside the Pacific Northwest. “Black” here is defined broadly to include African-Americans, Afro-Caribbeans, Africans, and multiethnic/biracial individuals who are part of the African diaspora and self-identify as part of the African diaspora. The project’s special focus is on African diaspora communities living in the Pacific Northwest.
  4. Underrepresented Minority (URM) & Low-Income First-Generation (LIFG) Student Experiences in Undergraduate STEM Education
    How do experiences with small group collaborative learning inform URM and LIFG students’ experiences in STEM education, their motivation for STEM fields, and identification with STEM career paths? Dr. Adams-Wiggins examines small group interactions as a catalyst for identity processes and development of academic and career interests. Engineering education will be a special focus, but not sole focus.

Example Qualifications to Emphasize in Your Application:

  • Interest in addressing social justice and/or educational equity issues broadly (e.g. school-to-prison pipeline, mass incarceration, affordable housing, labor exploitation)
  • Background knowledge or personal experience with public education in the Greater Portland area
  • Familiarity with or interest in Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory, Garcia-Coll and colleagues’ integrative model, and/or Beale-Spencer and colleagues’ Phenomenological Variant of Ecological Systems Theory (PVEST)
  • Experience and/or interest in sociocultural and critical perspectives in psychology
  • Experience and/or interest in critical theoretical frameworks and/or Black Critical Theory (including but not limited to Afro-pessimist scholarship and Africana, Gender, or Indigenous Nations Studies)
  • Background knowledge or personal experience with the life experiences and family dynamics of Black ethnic groups in the Pacific Northwest
  • Background knowledge or personal experience with public education in the Pacific Northwest
  • Demonstrated skill in communicating with African diaspora male adolescents and college students
  • Demonstrated ability to interact with middle schoolers and high schoolers
  • Demonstrated ability to interact with families in a culturally-competent fashion
  • Demonstrated ability to interact with persons of diverse gender identities and sexual orientations
  • Background knowledge or experience with undergraduate STEM education, especially engineering fields
  • Experience and/or interest in qualitative methods (e.g. interviewing, case studies, participatory research) and mixed-methods research
  • Fluency in any languages spoken by African and African diaspora immigrant families in the Pacific Northwest

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