Description: participant-observation, semi-structured interviews, surveys; Undergraduate Research
Researcher: Maggie Sheehan
Partners: Mason Park Block Watch, University Park Alliance, University of Akron Research Foundation
Throughout the past year I have been studying issues of environmental health while working with the Mason Park Block Watch group. Members of the Block Watch have been fighting the presence of a waste transfer station in their neighborhood for over ten years and believe the station has caused significant environmental, economic, and health impacts. In reaction to these concerns, I have been conducting household health surveys in Mason Park and a second Akron neighborhood of similar sociodemographics in an attempt to determine if the waste tranfer station has indeed affected the health of the surrounding neighborhood.
Description: Semi-structured and structured interviews, participant observation; Independent Undergraduate Research
Researcher: Gretchen Pleuss
Over spring semester, 2012, I studied at La Universidad de San Ignacio in Cusco, Peru, where I had the opportunity to conduct my own research project analyzing the tourism industry of the Cusco region and its effects on the people involved. I researched the influx of tourists over the past ten years and the resulting economy, conducted personal interviews with tour guides and international students, and used some informal participant observation to better understand the interactions between tourists, locals, and their surroundings.
Description: Survey, Story Circles; Undergraduate Honors Research Project
Researcher: Nicolle LaNasa
Partners: Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center
The expansion of the built environment as well as the spread of information technology have increased sedentism and limited humans’ overall access to and exposure to the natural environment. The resulting phenomenon, called “nature deficit disorder” (NDD), has been linked to a multitude of physical and psychological health concerns that are particularly threatening to children born in the “information age.” While many forms of science and environmental education have sought to improve awareness regarding the natural environment, they have oftentimes furthered children’s fear of ecological deterioration and have reinforced their existing disengagement from nature, arguably compounding NDD. Using a mixed-methods approach, this study explores the connection between exposure to nature and children’s environmental orientations in order to better understand the root of environmental disengagement. Fifty-nine fourth and fifth-grade students participating in a nature-based environmental education (NBEE) program and thirty students in a control group responded to a survey measuring two distinct constructs of environmental orientation, “eco-affinity” and “eco-awareness.”
For NBEE participants, results were compared pre-and post-exposure to NBEE. In addition to qualitative data, quantitative data was collected in the form of story circles, where participants shared stories about their experiences with nature and technology. Greatest improvements in environmental orientation occurred in the realm of eco-affinity, reflected in both survey and story circle results. Most notably, discourses shifted from “eco-phobia”—fear of nature—to wonder, suggesting a connection between NDD and discourses of fear. This research seeks to place NDD in evolutionary/ecological, cultural-ecological, and political-economic contexts. It then takes a critical perspective that problematizes the medicalization of NDD and links the emergence of the phenomenon instead to societal discourses of fear and global forces of power.
Description: Qualitative Interviews
Researchers: Matthew Lee and Margaret Poloma
Partner: Institute for Research on Unlimited Love
Two UA sociologists and their assistants conducted 120 interviews across the U.S. with people who have become known for their religiously based benevolence. The ARM lab provided training on qualitative methods, including the use of NVIVO and grounded theory, that has shaped the collection and analysis of data for this project. A book titled, “The Heart of Religion” describing the findings is under contract with Oxford University Press.
Independent Project: Graduate Student
Jodi A. Henderson-Ross, Dissertation Research
My dissertation research explores the operation of informal social control in a neighborhood setting. I use ethnographic methods and a constructivist grounded theory approach to articulate an interpretivist understanding of informal social control. I conducted over four years of fieldwork in a neighborhood setting where I engaged in several forms of observation, collected and reviewed both official and informal documents and I interviewed residents, business owners, landlords and community activists. This project was supported by the Department of Sociology and relied on materials and equipment belonging to the ARM Project.
Description: Graduate Student research project
Researcher(s): Daniela Jauk
Dani Jauk conducted an individual research project on violence against transgendered people in Ohio from Fall 2007 to Fall 2010. The project was based on participant observation of transgender advocacy and support groups in Akron, Clevand, and Columbus as well as interviews with transgender identified individuals about their life time experiences with violent victimization. The ARMlab equipment (tape recorder, video recorder, NVivo software) was used to collect and analyze the qualitative data in the form of fieldnotes, interview transcripts, and images. Dani has received the “Allied Student Activist of the Year 2008 – Transgender Illumination Award of the greater Cleveland LGBT community” in November 2008 for her work and collaboration with the local community.
Description: Interdisciplinary and interinstitutional research using mixed-methods (i.e., written questionnaires, audio diaries, face-to-face interviews)
Researchers: Dr Rebecca J. Erickson, Dr. James M. Diefendorff, four graduate student researchers, and one undergraduate researcher
Partner: University Hospitals
The current project integrates identity and emotion management control theories to examine how the occupational context combines with self processes to affect individual and organizational outcomes. The researchers investigate these relationships using a mixed methods design with a sample of full-time registered nurses working in seven acute care hospitals in the Midwestern United States. The researchers seek to specify how social contexts, interactional events, and the emotions which emerge from them, are experienced and managed in ways that impact key dimensions of individual health and the unit-based effectiveness of nursing care provided within hospital settings. The ARM Lab has provided crucial technology support by providing the handheld voice recorders needed to complete the audio diary phase of the project.
Description: Interdisciplinary Research Project
Researcher(s): Drs. Elman, Feltey, and Wittman and Graduate and Undergraduate Research Assistants
Using a socio-historical life course approach and a multi-methods research design, this project focuses on the lives of pioneer women in the 19th century U.S. We analyze multiple official data sources (census data, railroad data, health records, etc.) and first and second-hand accounts of women pioneers (letters, diaries, memoirs, children’s accounts) to tell a more complete story or set of stories about in-group and between-group differences on the frontier. This project received funding from the UA Faculty Research Grant Program and used software (NVIVO) in the ARM Lab to organize and analyze the qualitative data.
Description: An Undergraduate, Class-based Project
Researcher(s): Dr. Carolyn Behrman and 16 UA undergrads
Partner(s): Akron Public Schools
Anthropology 460, a community-based research and service-learning class, studied food insecurity in an elementary school in an urban, low-income neighborhood. The project interviewed children and teachers, observed classroom and cafeteria behavior, worked with children to create home-food inventories and recorded food consumption patterns in the cafeteria. This project received financial support from the Institute for Teaching and Learning, and used the facilities and equipment belonging to the ARM Project.