Ongoing Recruitment of Research Assistants (March 2019)

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. Download the application and submit it to Dr. Adams-Wiggins via email:

Current Focal Projects

  1. Marginality in Inquiry Science Learning Contexts
    How do status hierarchies inform learners’ negotiation of identity in inquiry-based science contexts? How does occupying a middle schooler’s marginal position during collaborative learning episodes inform our understanding of competence and belonging in science? Dr. Adams-Wiggins applies a sociocultural perspective to examine the ways in which middle schoolers’ motivation originates in social interaction. This study involves collaboration-intensive science learning contexts, namely classrooms implementing Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) with the support of researchers and curriculum developers. This project involves classroom video, student interviews, and surveys.
  2. 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

Long-Term Projects in Development

  1. 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. Manuscripts in progress for this project address the role of antiblackness and coloniality in distorting the child-adult trajectory for Black youth; implications of the distorted trajectory for developmental science research are discussed.

Examples of Useful 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
  • Experience and/or interest in sociocultural theories (e.g. Vygotskyan and neo-Vygotskyan in psychology and/or the learning sciences, relational identity and personhood models 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)
  • Experience and/or interest critical and/or community psychological perspectives
  • Familiarity with and/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)
  • 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
  • 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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