During the academic school year the Center typically employs a number of students based on project needs. These include undergraduate and graduate students. The Center is also a regular recipient of Work Study and Academic Service Scholar placement. Students working in the CASR function as employees of the University. Work quality and productivity are regularly monitored and evaluated.
Since its inception, approximately 225 undergraduate student assistants have been employed in the CASR. Undergraduate students typically work as telephone interviewers, data entry assistants, and office assistants, though advanced undergraduates may assist in data analysis and presentation of results. The Center has also employed over a dozen graduate students over the years, providing an opportunity to apply advanced level research skills in a real-world setting. Graduate students typically work as lab managers and assist in study design, data management, higher level data analysis, and report writing, while working with and monitoring undergraduate student assistants. Students of all levels are encouraged to participate in field projects where they must engage the community, and learn how to effectively communicate with diverse populations, providing additional opportunities to engage in experiential learning outside of the Center.
The CASR’s educational impact has been far reaching with UTC students. Since 2005, there have been 77 student assistants (68 undergraduate and 9 graduate students) employed in the Center, with nearly a third remaining across multiple years. With the addition of a research coordinator in 2007, more comprehensive research training was possible than in prior years, allowing for more long-term and richer experiences for students. 2007 was a particularly busy year, with ten ongoing research projects, three of which were telephone surveys, calling for a large pool of trained student assistants.
Students in Action: Translating Training into Practice
Students of all levels are encouraged to participate in field projects where they can engage the community, and learn how to effectively communicate with diverse populations. This real world training at the Center helps prepare student assistants for their future professional careers. Under the supervision of the CASR’s staff, student workers use the knowledge gained from their majors, past experiences, and training at the Center to assist in research. Following are some recent examples of student research in action.
Learning and Using Research Skills
Comprehensive Gang Assessment
For 6 weeks during the spring/summer of 2012, 18 undergraduate and graduate UTC students worked with the CASR staff as data entry assistants and research assistants; assisting in survey distribution, data collection, data entry, analysis and reporting. Without their tremendous contributions, the daunting task of manually entering 5,057 individual students' paper and pencil survey responses into electronic form would not have been accomplished within the mandated time frame. Dr. Barbara Medley, CASR Director, and graduate students Clinton H. and Katie H. work to compile student surveys for the Comprehensive Gang Assessment.
La Paz de Dios Promotores de Salud Program Evaluation
Danielle East applied her two years of Center training on the La Paz de Dios Promotores de Salud Program Evaluation. She participated in several phases of the research process including pre/post test survey refinement, data management and cleaning, qualitative and quantitative data analysis, and assisting in report writing. Danielle recently graduated with a BS in Accounting. Her love of numbers and data were valuable on this project.
UTC Parking Study Focus Group
During her junior year as an English major, Janelle Malone applied her interest in focus groups and qualitative methodology by helping conduct the UTC Parking Focus Group Study. She helped to develop the focus group questions, recruited participants, scheduled the groups, and even moderated one of the sessions (the student focus group). After transcribing all of the focus groups, she assisted with the qualitative analysis and report on the findings.
UTC Urban Planning Degree/Program Needs Assessment
A large four survey project, called for a team of four students: Adam Beavers (UTC, Anthropology), Dane Hughes (UTC, Sociology), Danielle East (UTC, Accounting), and Janelle Malone (UTC, English). Each student was given the task of designing one of the four surveys comprising the study (UTC Student Survey, UTC Faculty Survey, Professional Planners Survey, and Regional Employers Survey) under the supervision of Dr. Susan Ritz. The team had a unique opportunity to engage in survey development and learned first hand the complexities of developing and refining a useful survey tool for the UTC Graduate School.
In the world’s largest community visioning project ever, a team of eight undergraduate students helped to enter data for over 25,000 Chattanooga surveys and used their qualitative analysis training to code nearly half a million open-ended survey responses.
Gear-Up Program Parent Survey
In 2008, a team of five undergraduate student assistants used the CASR Survey Center’s state-of-the-art telephone survey equipment for the Gear-Up Program Parent Survey. The team collected 433 phone surveys exploring parent of local Gear-Up students’ understanding and involvement in their children’s future education. The follow-up study began in December 2010, is headed up by Lead Telephone Interviewer, Angela Bielefeld (UTC, Biology major and Pre-Med).