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McNair Scholars Program

Summer 2001 Research Projects

Scholar: Deidra Allen
Mentor: Sue Williams, Ph.D.


Breaking the Chains and the Silence: Perceptions of the Juvenile Justice System

African-American youth are over-represented in every aspect of the juvenile justice system in every state. Some say that Black youth commit more crimes than their white counterparts, but some people imply that it is the juvenile justice authorities that have biased attitudes towards youth of color. This research looked at the perceptions of the juvenile justice system held by young African-American adults who have been involved in it. A survey was distributed and interviews were conducted. An important finding in this study was the realization that this topic is very sensitive. Possible reasons for the survey's low response rate are discussed. For future studies, the questions involved in the survey or in the interview should reflect a better understanding of stereotypes and be worded so that defensiveness from respondents can be reduced.


Scholar: Renee Britton
Mentor: Elizabeth Boyle, Ph.D.

Quality Attributes of a Heat-and-Eat Lamb-Based Entrée during Refrigerated Storage and Subsequent Reheating and Hot-Holding

Meat tenderness, pH, color, subjective aroma, and TBA were evaluated in a lamb curry entrée that been manufactured in a cook-in-bag, stored refrigerated up to 45 days, then subsequently re-heated and held on a steam table. The product was sampled after 1, 30, and 45 days of refrigerated storage at -2.2 to 0 degrees Celsius with three replications. Lee Kramer Shear, pH, color, and subjective aroma of the product were determined immediately following product reheating to 74 degrees Celsius internal temperature, and after 2 and 4 hours of hot holding at 60 degrees Celsius constant temperature on a steam table (Food Code 1999). Samples for 2-Thiobaruturic Acid Analysis (TBA) determinations were only taken after 2 and 4 hours of hot holding on days 1 and 30. There were minimal quality changes in the product as a result of refrigerated storage and hot holding after reheating.


Scholar: LaFayette Childs II
Mentor: James Hamilton, Ph.D.

Is Architecture an Art Form?: Aesthetics and Metaphysics of Architecture

There is an accepted view that states: all artworks are either types (tokens of types) or individuals (i.e. unique). Wollheim claims that if any artwork kind X is an ontological kind Y (or Z), then all artworks of kind X are of ontological kind Y (or Z). Some believe that if architecture is an art form, it has works that are types and works that are individuals. My research looks at the consequences as they relate to the case of architecture, if Wollheim is correct. I argue that architecture is an art form and its works are individuals.


Scholar: Jancy Davis
Mentor: Jennifer Bay-Williams, Ph.D.

Increasing Instructional Focus on Problem Solving: Middle School Impact

This study focused on the changes in student attitudes and problem solving skills in a one year time period. Students in the study were in classrooms with teachers who developed an Instructional Change Plan (ICP) to incorporate more problem solving and communication into their classrooms. Pre- and post- problem-solving instruments and pre- and post- attitude instruments were administered in four rural Kansas school districts to students ranging from 6th to 8th grade. The teachers kept records of student progress and strategies they used to improve student attitudes and problem-solving skills in mathematics. The compiled data were analyzed to see if a correlation between student attitudes and problem-solving skills existed. The attitude instrument provided three specific categories for analysis: willingness, perseverance, and self-confidence. Although most of the teachers reported significant improvements in student attitudes and problem solving skills the testing instruments, in most cases, showed only minimal changes.


Scholar: Morgan Milham
Mentor: Marilyn Kaff, Ph.D.


A Survey of Special Educators Regarding the Costs and Benefits of Behavioral Interventions for Students with Disabilities

As a result of the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), special education teachers have been largely responsible for educating students with disabilities. The goal is to prepare each student to be a productive, responsible, and contributing member of society. To allow full participation in the community, each student must be educated in academic content, adaptive behavior skills, and/or social skills. There has been adequate research into appropriate teaching strategies and techniques for exceptional learners. However, the most pressing problem for most teachers centers on the issue of behavior management for students with disabilities. General educators look to their special education colleagues to help them develop effective behavioral intervention plans that are easy to implement, will help students develop and maintain appropriate classroom behavior, and are not too labor intensive. The purpose of the current study was to survey a diverse group of special education teachers to determine what kinds of communication, and behavioral interventions they were likely to use, which ones were effective, how labor intensive teachers thought the interventions were and which ones they thought general education teachers were likely to use. A further examination of the data will also shed light on which interventions work for certain students (elementary vs. middle school vs. high school). With this information, special education teachers can better discern what interventions might work well for their own students, as well as provide them with ideas for helping their general education peers develop effective behavior management plans.


Scholar: Brandi Nelson
Mentor: Rhonda Janke, Ph.D.

Testing and Assessment of Participatory Farm Monitoring of Watershed

In 1998 the "River Friendly Farms" program was developed to help Kansas farmers determine risk for health, safety, and environmental impact associated with non-point source pollution. Dr. Janke proposes an on-farm monitoring component to the RFF assessment tool. In this pilot study, the focus has been on nutrient and fecal coliform (e. coli) contamination monitoring. To test current sampling techniques two quality control experiments were done: the Equipment Rinse experiment, and the Sampling Technique experiment (which concerned the location where samples were taken). After data analysis, we found that rinsing the scoop had little effect on e.coli counts. In the Sampling Technique experiment, we found that taking the water from different areas of the stream didn't have a significant impact on the sample. However, a scoop taken deeply in the stream is likely to contain more sediment, which will influence coliform counts, total nitrogen, total phosphorous, and turbidity of the sample.


Scholar: Erin O'Brien
Mentor: John Harrington, Ph.D.

Sustainability of the Ogallala Aquifer

The Ogallala aquifer has spurred development in the High Plains. A part of the High Plains aquifer system, the Ogallala is the largest and most heavily developed aquifer in the world. This paper looks at the sustainability of the Ogallala aquifer with a focus on the demands that irrigation imposes.

My study looked at the High Plains region with a focus on southwest Kansas. Irrigated agriculture has been depleting the fossil waters of the Ogallala for several years. Various estimates tell how much water is available to be withdrawn from different regions of the aquifer. The dwindling water supply leads to questions about the future of the economy of western Kansas, which relies heavily on agriculture.

Land availability and beneficial weather conditions led to an influx of settlers in the Ogallala region. Drought spurred the development of irrigation technology. After World War II, Plains farming was changed into agribusiness. Since then, the amount of irrigated acreage has dramatically increased. Increases in irrigation pumpage have led to questions about the sustainability of the Ogallala aquifer.

Increased technology paired with federal safeguards helped increase the number of irrigators. The rapid expansion of irrigated agriculture in Kansas led to the development of the Groundwater Management District Act, which helped set up local districts to control and regulate groundwater usage. The local districts have implemented guidelines and regulations, which irrigators must follow.

Technological advances, water conservation, and legal actions are helping increase the sustainability of the Ogallala. Only time will tell if it is enough.


Scholar: Sara Runnion
Mentor: Catherine Cozzarelli, Ph.D.

Characteristics of a Prejudiced Person

Many researchers have described prejudice as a "generalized attitude". The first goal of this study was to examine whether prejudice against Blacks, homosexuals and poor men and women were all related. Currently, there has not been research conducted to explore whether prejudice toward the poor relates to prejudice against other target groups. This hypothesis was examined by looking at the pattern of correlations among these variables. The second goal of this study was to examine whether the same social ideologies and demographic variables predict prejudice against all of the target groups. The social ideologies examined were the belief in a just world, the Protestant work ethic and authoritarianism. Demographic variables that were examined included political affiliation, gender, and age. The data for this study were part of a larger data set collected by Cozzarelli, Tagler & Wilkinson (2001) which contained measures of sociodeographic variables, core American values and ideologies and attitudes toward the poor. The participants (n=209, 75 male and 131 female) for this study were from Kansas State University and volunteered to complete this experiment to fulfill a general psychology course requirement. The majority of participants identified themselves as Independent and Republican/Conservative. Results showed that the majority of participants strongly endorsed authoritarian values and only moderately endorsed Protestant work ethic values and beliefs in a just world. The theory that prejudice is a "generalized attitude" was only partially supported in the current study. Results revealed that people with more negative attitudes toward Blacks were also more likely to hold negative attitudes toward homosexuals and poor women. Attitudes toward poor men were not strongly related to attitudes toward the other target groups. It was also true though, that all of the significant correlations were only moderate in magnitude. Therefore, there does not appear to be a strongly dominant prejudiced personality. Secondly, results showed that the ideologies and demographic variables did not predict prejudice against all three target groups to the same extent.


Scholar: Tramaine Watts
Mentor: Brian Niehoff, Ph.D.

Examining Teaching Effectiveness and Student Personality

The purpose of the study was to test the hypothesis that the preference for effective teaching varies based on the personality of the student. The study utilized the "Big Five" factors model of personality (McCrae and Costa, 1987), which are extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness. These five factors were hypothesized to be correlated with the importance students placed on six dimensions of effective teaching, including approachability, clarity, depth, interaction, interest, and organization. A sample of 200 undergraduate and graduate students completed a three-part survey including the Big Five Inventory (BFI) developed by John and Srivastava (1999), six dimensions of effective teaching, and demographic information. Results showed that: (1) extraverted students showed a higher preference for interaction, (2) agreeable students showed a higher preference for less organization, (3) conscientious students preferred organization and approachability, and (4) openness correlated with a preference for clarity, depth, and less organization. No teaching preference emerged for neuroticism.


Scholar: John Jasso Wedel
Mentor: John Exdell, Ph.D.

Kansas Hispanic Values Study

Identified by the most recent census numbers as the new largest minority group in the United States, the Hispanic populace has become a major political target for recruitment and support by the powers-that-be and the powers-that-would-be. As the Hispanic community continues to grow, efforts to understand their positions and gain knowledge of their political motives have increased on every level of government. Traditionally seen by many as a socially conservative people operating out of a predominately Catholic culture there arises an apparent disconnect between perceived traditional personal values and typical voting patterns of Hispanics, which suggest a leaning towards the left and support of more liberal policies. The intent of this study is to compare and analyze the professed personal and political values of voting age Hispanics living in Kansas in an effort to distinguish whether or not discrepancies do exist on a large scale within the populace, and to decipher what implications this might have on future voting trends and political affiliations. The data was collected through a mailed survey containing personal and political value statements. The recipients of the survey were identified and selected by the researcher through the aid of state political party caucuses, party mailing lists, and party leaders.