Arts and Humanities – Page 2 – UROP Spring Symposium 2021

Arts and Humanities

Good with Words: Speaking and Presenting

Working alongside Professor Patrick Barry and his research team, I have been able to identify what makes good sentences good. The motivation behind this project is to teach speaking, writing, and problem solving skills to aspiring lawyers on a large scale. Professor Barry has identified a need for improving these skills and plans to tackle this by producing professional writers and speakers through the use of his online public courses and classes through the Michigan Law School hoping to address the question of how we can improve student writing in order for them to become better advocates. As a research student on this project, some strategies I engage in to address the research question are consistently trying to test and improve them with tasks such as conducting close editing and reviewing of papers, attending the Good with Words class, taking and providing feedback on MOOC courses, etc. Personally, I started off with the Writing and Editing MOOC where I had to present feedback on what should be changed by crafting a weekly E-D-I-T memo. As a result, the critiques of the courses and classes allows Professor Barry to improve each platform. We hope to find that this enhances writers and speakers around the world. We predict that specifically improving the online MOOC courses will allow Professor Barry to scale his teaching to reach a large number of people. In broader terms, everyone who wants to become a better speaker and writer would benefit from the course.

Good with Words: Speaking and Presenting

The Good Sentences project started by Professor Patrick Barry is about answering one question: what makes good sentences good? Knowing this can help us improve our own writing and speaking. This project started out in the law school in order to enhance the writing and speaking skills of law students, but over the years, it has expanded greatly: it’s now composed of many sub-projects all dedicated to the same cause. To actually determine what makes good writing good, the research team analyzes popular pieces of literature that society deems to be good writing. We analyze the most memorable phrases and break them down grammatically so that we can learn what aspects of those phrases are the most powerful. Professor Barry then shares these phrases within his class, sparking a discussion on them that allows for further analysis. Next, those class discussions are published as books by Professor Barry and his team. The sub-projects within Good Sentences are all fundamentally based on the material within these books. To address our fundamental research question, I as a member of the team reviewed Professor Barry’s class at the University of Michigan and his Coursera courses. I also took part in the editing process of his books, which are transcripts of prior classes. While these methods along with others get us closer to answering our question, the research is always ongoing; however, we can use what worked for other pieces of good writing/speaking and teach others to implement it within their own writing.

Mentoring, Induction, and Professional Development for Music Teachers

This study focuses on experienced music teacher’s perception of professional development throughout 20 years. The participants in this study are previous students of Dr. Colleen Conway, professor of music education at the University of Michigan. The participants have been studied previously in 1999 and 2009 regarding their experiences with teacher professional development. The purpose of the 2019-2020 study was to see what has changed or is currently changing in schools regarding profession development. This information is critical in order to give music teachers the proper assistance and knowledge in order to allow the students the best experience musical experience possible. The profession needs to know more about how to support music teachers and their work. Other researchers have studied this phenomenon as well. These studies have been published in journals like the Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, Education Review Policy, Journal of Music Teacher Education, and more. Our key question we are trying to answer with this study is “Based on their 20 years in the field, what can these experienced teachers tell us about music teacher mentoring, induction, and professional development?” My involvement has included transcribing the May 2020 interviews, and assisting in the presentation of the findings for conferences in February and April.

COVID-19 hidden stories

Despite the vast studies that exist concerning marginalized populations and discriminatory concerns within the healthcare system, there are little to none focusing on the first-hand narratives of Hispanic individuals who face barriers to accessing healthcare services. Most importantly, there is not enough research that delves into the perspectives of Hispanic immigrants who have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hence, this study, “COVID-19 Hidden Stories,” served to extensively analyze and investigate the various factors that play a role in accessibility to healthcare that has yet been captured by the media. This investigative study was a platform for Hispanic individuals within the Detroit and Grand Rapids communities of Michigan and from Chicago, Illinois, to share their experiences with COVID-19. Through non-contact interviews covering aspects of COVID-19, substantial journalistic research was gathered and analyzed to draw commonalities between the respective recounts of the interviewees; by far, there were high relevance of themes such as loss of family, strained health, financial constraints, and fear of deportation amidst the pandemic. Through this research, there were several barriers and factors that resulted in the silencing of Hispanic immigrants during this difficult period, suggesting a systemic fault in the American healthcare system. Their stories humanize existing statistics and add nuance to the understanding of the intersectionality between immigration policies and health care services. In documenting first-hand accounts of Hispanic individuals, these stories will be compiled to create a podcast that will help the Hispanic community trudge through isolation during the pandemic.

COVID-19 hidden stories

Despite the vast studies that exist concerning marginalized populations and discriminatory concerns within the healthcare system, there are little to none focusing on the first-hand narratives of Hispanic individuals who face barriers to accessing healthcare services. Most importantly, there is not enough research that delves into the perspectives of Hispanic immigrants who have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hence, this study, “COVID-19 Hidden Stories,” served to extensively analyze and investigate the various factors that play a role in accessibility to healthcare that has yet been captured by the media. This investigative study was a platform for Hispanic individuals within the Detroit and Grand Rapids communities of Michigan and from Chicago, Illinois, to share their experiences with COVID-19. Through non-contact interviews covering aspects of COVID-19, substantial journalistic research was gathered and analyzed to draw commonalities between the respective recounts of the interviewees; by far, there were high relevance of themes such as loss of family, strained health, financial constraints, and fear of deportation amidst the pandemic. Through this research, there were several barriers and factors that resulted in the silencing of Hispanic immigrants during this difficult period, suggesting a systemic fault in the American healthcare system. Their stories humanize existing statistics and add nuance to the understanding of the intersectionality between immigration policies and health care services. In documenting first-hand accounts of Hispanic individuals, these stories will be compiled to create a podcast that will help the Hispanic community trudge through isolation during the pandemic.

Management by Design: Mental Health and its Gendered Discrepancies in the Workplace

Beginning in 1967, most office spaces in America were transformed to follow an “Action Office” Design created by Robert Propst. This invention, backed by psychological and behavioral research, was meant to minimize worker fatigue, increase collaboration without too much distraction, and overall boost productivity in the workplace with employees working faster for longer without much realization. The consequences of this new approach, however, weren’t realized until much more recently. Our research project sought to explore and assess the changes in workplace design from 1967 to 2017, focusing on awareness of mental health and gender fairness. Have work conditions improved? Is employee health a concern for corporations? Why is there still a prominent, gendered difference in employee treatment within the workplace? Using Robert Propst’s The Office and the Henry Ford Archives, we were able to get a sense of what was happening behind closed office doors in 1967.

HGTV: Understanding Home Improvement Media Influence in the Architecture, Design, Planning, and Development of the US Metropolis

Media has a large impact on the functioning of society, dictating common norms, procedures, and ways of living. However, often overlooked is the impact that media has on the built environment. With such a large influence over communities, architecture can be swayed by the same social components that divide people, especially diversity. In order to examine the media’s impact on diversity in architecture, I examined the racial makeup and family structure makeup, (whether or not the family is a nuclear family, has disabilities, a same-sex couple, single-parent households), of HGTV shows. In order to do this, I watched the first and last available seasons of the shows, and cataloged the race and makeup of each family featured in each episode, as well as of the hosts. From this data, I calculated the percentage of POC and non-nuclear families featured in the shows within the seasons and compared the percentages calculated from the first season to the last season to track the progression in racial diversity. After watching the shows, I found that there was a decrease in racial diversity and an increase in non-nuclear family compositions overall from the first to last seasons of the chosen shows. These findings continue to highlight the lack of diversity and representation of different family groups in HGTV. Therefore, the media’s influence on the built environment disproportionately represents a white, nuclear family, rather than the diverse makeup of the communities featured on the shows.

Good with Words: Speaking and Presenting

While serving on Professor Barry’s research team, we operate on the assumption that speaking, writing, and problem solving skills are necessary in the legal field. However, we have found that we must do a better job of addressing that need. The current teaching plan being utilized is not enough in terms of the content and the scale. The key question of this project is: How do you scale meaningful professional training in speaking and writing to be both useful to the masses as well as the individual? In trying to answer this question we have focused in on certain classes at University of Michigan Law School, and we are working to pinpoint key areas in need of improvement. We do this by observing a class lecture each week and noting: areas for improvement, areas that can be cut or condensed, and areas that should be emphasized. Also to address this question, we are trying to implement the use of virtual reality headsets, which helps contribute to the larger scale of feedback as a student can actually be placed into a courtroom where their actions have no consequences. Students can use the simulation multiple times until they can successfully finish and understand it. The final results, to be collected over the semester, will provide a clear idea to address scaling lessons for students speaking, writing, and problem solving. This plan can then be applied to other classes to create a generation of highly professional, prepared lawyers.

Developing an Eye for EDITing

The revision process has been intertwined with the writing process arguably the birth of the written word in the Sumerian civilization. But for as long as the revision process has existed, there have been and still are still debates on the best methods to review the work of both yourself and others. This project will debrief my findings as a reviewer of Law classes, Massive Open Online Courses, and books for publication by Professor Patrick Barry regarding how we can improve our writing. An analysis of my progress and the content of these materials reveal that the optimal revision process is largely subjective with a few objective parameters needed: 1) a thorough understanding of why there should be changes, 2) a clear explanation of the changes that need to be made, and 3) a constructive delivery of change suggestions. My work on this project can be applied to future and current students who may struggle finding their footing in the world of revision and editing by giving them confidence with a flexible framework to use in their writing. It will also point out key errors or changes to look for in communicating to their audience through this new online learning format.

Creative Writing & Publishing

Introduction: How to get work published is regarded as one of life’s greatest mysteries by many American writers; for this project, our research group decided to comprehensively study American literary journals in hopes of discovering which journals publish which types of work, and what particular journal would be the best fit for each member of our research group. We also practiced our own writing skills and developed our styles. Methods: To accomplish this goal, each group member compiled a database of information surrounding these journals, noting the length of submissions they typically published, the style of writings, and notable features of the journal, including whether or not they had a particular interest in new writers. We also submitted our own creative works (like flash fiction, short stories, poetry, prose) to our research group on a weekly basis for critique to analyze our own styles and determine which journals could be a good match. Results: An analysis of these databases has provided each member with a list of publications to which they will submit work. We have also learned which journals are most likely to print which types of work, and what things editors look for while they are reading submissions. Conclusions: Each member is submitting work now to see if we will be accepted anywhere.

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