The Rutgers Office of Research and Economic Development (ORED), University Research Council Grant (URCG) has awarded funding to six SC&I faculty members for new research.
According to its website, ORED “aims to further the reach of Rutgers research and its impact on communities. Led by David Kimball, Ph.D., senior vice president for research and economic development, the office provides a pipeline of services across Rutgers to drive and support faculty research and strategically leads the university's economic development activities. Our cutting-edge research, sponsored by federal and state agencies, and increasingly by corporations and foundations, contributes to the medical, environmental, social and cultural well-being of the state. By transforming Rutgers research into products, services and partnerships, we help New Jersey’s economy grow.”
More information about the awardees and the research projects is below.
Professor of Library and Information Science
Proposal title: Migration Through the Senses and Memories of Contagion – A Close and Distant Reading of Open Data Oral History Migration Archives
Description: This project builds on historical ethnography and archival analysis approaches that Dalbello has developed in studies of immigrant literacy and the sensorial and affective dimensions of migration experience from Europe to America during the Progressive era. This grant will allow her to revisit the archives of migration with this main question: how are the memories of illness, quarantine, and family trauma recorded and narratively performed? She is focusing on the familial structures of memory and kinship captured in the archives of migration and statist and immigrant book culture.
Assistant Professor of Communication
Proposal title: Organizational Listening
Description: The purpose of this research is to learn more about how nonprofit organizations in the United States allocate their attention to listening and obtaining information from internal and external stakeholders (e.g., employees, funders, regulators, community members). Our objective is to gain insight into how U.S. nonprofits listen to stakeholders, address community needs, and innovate to better tackle complex social problems.
Professor and Chair of the Journalism and Media Studies Department
Associate Professor of Communication
Proposal title: The Experience of Digital Disparity Among College Students Experiencing Remote Instruction
Description: As professors, we were thrust into remote teaching when Rutgers closed its campus in mid-March. And like many, we have been concerned about whether and how disparities in access to technology and stable WiFi have affected our students' abilities to participate meaningfully in their remote coursework. We moved quickly to develop an (IRB-approved) online survey and we reached out to colleagues at SC&I and at universities around the country and the world to ask them to share our survey with their students. Our request was met with enthusiasm, and more than 3,300 students participated.
Our project has multiple aims. First, we assess students’ access to the digital technologies that are required for taking one's classes online -- specifically, whether they have the tools they need to fully participate as remote learners (e.g., a desktop or laptop computer and stable WiFi). Second, we seek to determine what factors, such as financial stability, experience with online learning, and demographic characteristics, shape students' digital connectivity and access to digital devices. Specifically, we investigate whether there are disparities created in the pivot from in-person to remote learning. Third, we examine the challenges students face with their connectivity, their devices, and their ability to communicate with their professors. We explore how those challenges affect their feelings of self-efficacy with remote learning (e.g., their perceived ability to keep track of assignments and their sense that they know what is expected of them). Finally, we aim to identify socio-emotional and health-related factors, such as anxiety, depression, and family pressures, that are associated with students' experiences with remote learning.
Our goal with this project is to not only describe what students experienced in the spring of 2020, but to also make evidence-informed recommendations to have a better fall. Thus, in addition to submitting our work to academic journals, we have started a blog on Medium.com called "Left to their Own Devices."
Professor of Journalism and Media Studies
Proposal title: Terrorcraft: Islamophobia, Race, and Empire
Description: This book is about the production of a racialized terrorist threat, a process that Kumar calls “terrorcraft.” Starting in the late 1960s, Arabs were constructed as “terrorists” and racially profiled even though only one act of political violence had been carried out by an Arab American on U.S. soil at the time. The book traces how Arabs and later Muslims and South Asians were produced as security threats by the national security state and how culture and the media naturalized this project of racial formation. Kumar draws on several bodies of work such as critical terrorism studies, critical security studies, and work on the carceral state to show how “race” functions within the neoliberal security regime.
Associate Professor of Library and Information Science
Proposal title: K-12 Teacher Responses to COVID-19-Induced Emergency Transitions to Remote and Online Education in the State of New Jersey
Description: Rebecca Reynolds has received a grant from the Rutgers Faculty Research Council and a grant from the university-wide COVID internal research grant program, to study the ways in which N.J. school districts and teachers responded to state executive orders that went into effect on March 18, 2020 mandating that all schools from pre-kindergarten to grade 12 close, with all instruction to continue remotely for as long as the mandates remained in effect. A total of 584 school districts were required to submit an emergency closure preparedness plan containing remote instructional transition guidelines, which include prompts for instructional technology integration and plans for accommodating digital equity. Schools were required to deploy plans within a short timeframe and there was little time to incorporate a number of field-wide recommended procedures for remote teaching at the K-12 level, such as provision of high quality evidence-based online instructional affordances, and digital access measures that account for inequalities in device and network access in homes.
We now have a rare occasion to explore the processes, outcomes, successes and failures of e-learning solutions (innovative or otherwise) as schools and teachers have deployed them in spring 2020. This past summer, Reynolds and a research team of two SC&I doctoral students, Julie Aromi and Catherine McGowan, conducted 20 interviews with teachers from a diverse stratified sample of N.J. districts to explore instructional and digital equity practices engaged during Spring 2020. From these interviews, the team will also conduct follow-up surveys with up to 700 teachers in a stratified sample of diverse districts, to better understand their engagement with a range of specific instructional technology practices discerned from the teacher interviews and video recorded demonstrations of their course materials and platforms. The stratification approach will enable the researchers to analyze the results by district parent income levels, racial and ethnic diversity, teacher prior experience with e-learning modalities, grade level and subject domain, among other independent variables. We expect to chart notable variations in instructional approaches and digital inquality practices as being influenced by a range of factors such as these, leading to potential pragmatic improvement recommendations.