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Prospective Undergraduates

Description of Research: Research interests in the lab involve understanding how context shapes adolescents’ development and how race, ethnicity, and other cultural attributes interact with contextual characteristics to influence adolescent outcomes. Past projects in the lab (FAN-C: Families, Adolescents, and Neighborhoods in Context; PLACES/LUGARES) have explored the roles of different contexts such as residential neighborhood, school, family, etc. on African American and Latino adolescent’s academic outcomes, beliefs, and behavior. Our current projects are ENLACES/TIES, a collaborative project with Dr. Mayra Bámaca designed to explore family, peer, and neighborhood influences on youth behaviors, and a qualitative data analysis project analyzing parent and youth focus groups for major themes.

Opportunities for undergraduates in this lab include assisting with data collection (e.g., preparing research materials, interacting with adolescents, entering and coding data) and analysis (e.g., running descriptive statistics and simple analyses, preparing data manuals, conducting literature searches, and completing annotated bibliographies). Students are also trained in working with qualitative data – a unique experience in the Psych department at Penn State! Other lab tasks may be assigned as needed. Publication and honors thesis research possibilities exist.

Method of Compensation: Research assistants may apply for PSY 494 or HDFS 496 course credit or work on a volunteer basis. Participation provides valuable experience, training in important research-related skills, and a reference base for those considering graduate studies.

Requirements/Qualifications: Because of the nature and training involved with the study, we ask for a minimum overall GPA of 3.3 and a minimum commitment of at least 2 semesters. Students are required to spend 10 hours per week involved in lab-related activities, including a one-hour weekly lab/coding meeting which research assistants are required to attend.

Bilingualism (i.e., Spanish) is strongly desired but not required.

Summer opportunities are available.

If you are interested in becoming a member of the Context and Development lab, please complete the Undergraduate RA Application (by navigating to the page using the menu on the left) and email it to Dr. Witherspoon, dpw14@psu.edu OR contextlab1@gmail.com, with the subject: Context and Development Lab Undergraduate RA application.