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Student Research Opportunities

Starting in the fall of 2016, I’ll be the Class of 1952 Associate Professor of English and Education with a formal joint appointment and teaching responsibilities in Africana Studies and Linguistics. I remain Director of the William and Mary Scholars Program and co-director of WMSURE.

My courses will be more intently focused on the language, literacy, and culture of African-Americans and that will also be reflected in my research. I welcome students from all different majors and backgrounds to do research with me. The different perspectives that you bring enrich the study of African-American language and the education of African-Americans happens in all contexts! I’m not as much concerned with your overall GPA as I am with your ability to engage with the material and show up.

I plan to write a book and several articles on language and culture in postsecondary contexts, with a focus on supporting the social and academic experiences of African-American students on predominately White university campuses. The book “Talking College” will include survey and interview materials. This book is a direct response to a request that my undergraduate advisor, the late Calvert Watkins made to me for such work in my junior year at Harvard. He believed that a comprehensive examination of how African-American students lived and learned on college campuses would answer long-standing questions of the nature of both the linguistic idiolect of individuals in highly unique situations and also provide information on how to best support the African-American academic speech community.

Students who are interested in joining my research group and working on the project should come see me in office hours. Your ability to make at least 1 hour of my office hours every week is required. My office hours are from 12-3pm and from 6-7pm on Wednesdays in Blow 236.

If you’re interested in joining my research group you should take or be in the process of taking the following courses:

  • African American English (next offered in the fall of 2016)
  • Multicultural Education (next offered in the spring of 2017)
  • Community Based research methods
  • Other courses as determined

To be a paid or independent study earning research class, WMSURE or summer research fellow, you should have attended WMSURE as well in the preceding year.

Students wishing to have me on their honors committee in 2016-2017 should have already taken:

Language attitudes or African American English

Community Based Research methods

 In addition honors students should:

Be able to meet on Wednesdays from 12-pm 1pm in Blow 236

Students must also attend my classes or WMSURE consistently each semester. My honors students serve as fellows to my classes and/or to WMSURE.

They should also expect to devote the summer before their senior year to their project.

 Students wishing to have me on their honors committee in 2017-2018 and after should have already taken:

African American English

Multicultural Education

Other courses in the education studies sequence

In addition honors students should:

Be able to meet on Wednesdays from 12-pm 1pm in Blow 236

Students must also attend my classes or WMSURE consistently each semester. My honors students serve as fellows to my classes and/or to WMSURE.

They should also expect to devote the summer before their senior year to their project.

 I will be on my scheduled research leave for all of 2018-2019. While I may be doing research on campus, I will not be teaching, so plan to take my classes accordingly as my course requirements will remain consistent.

Examples of Previous Honors Thesis and Where Students are Now:

  • Mackenzie Fama (High Honors) Talking Southern in Virginia: Investigating the Presence of /ay/Monophthongization
  • Daniel Villarreal (Highest Honors) Closing the Communication Gap Between Undergraduates and Mathematics Professors; now a PhD Candidate in Linguistics, University of California at Davis
  • Jerome Carter (High Honors) Retention of African American Students in Biology: An Examination of the Introductory Course Sequence; now a Drexel University Medical School Student
  • Kiara Savage (Honors) An Investigation of the Differences in and the Effects of Cultural Variation in the Parenting of Children with Autism with a Focus on Language Development; now a Graduate of the Vanderbilt Speech-Language Pathology masters program and current Intern at Washington, D.C. Veteran Affairs Medical Center
  • Kenay Sudler (Highest Honors) Examining the Situation Faced by Speech Pathologists who Speak English with an Accent from a Foreign Language; now a speech pathologist at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, Brooklyn New York
  • Elizabeth DeBusk (Highest Honors), Language Variation in Literacy: An Evaluation of the Accuracy of PALS Testing in the Commonwealth of Virginia; now Manager of Communications & Academic Research for the Jepson School of Leadership Studies at The University of Richmond
  • Rachel Brooks (Honors) Can Education Compensate for Society? Sociolinguistic Theory and K-12 Education; now a Fulbright Fellow in Jeju, Jeju-do, Korea
  • Marvin Shelton (Highest Honors) Being An “Extraterrestrial:” The Need for Academic Emphasis on the Intersection of Race and Sexuality; now a masters student at the University Of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education

 

 

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