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Apprenticeship Program

Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program (URAP)

The College of Liberal Arts Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program (COLA URAP) provides a structured opportunity for students to be exposed to and learn about research and exploration in the many different disciplines within Liberal Arts.  It involves both training and active involvement in research projects under the mentorship of faculty and is intended to prepare students for their own independent research activities prior to graduation. 

There are two main modes of COLA URAP, each of which is open to undergraduate students in all years of study, both upper- and lower-division, as long as they are COLA majors.

  • The Cohort URAP (offered every fall semester). Students are assigned to small clusters of apprentices within specific host units that organize collective training and research activities overseen by a faculty advisor and Ph.D. student mentor, and they also enroll in a biweekly seminar with students from all URAP clusters in which they learn about the diverse modes of inquiry employed by liberal arts scholars. For the Cohort URAP, students apply to the program and, if accepted, are assigned to one of the clusters being offered for the semester.
  • The Individual URAP (offered every spring semester). Students work in apprentice-faculty pairs on a faculty-led research project, providing students new experiences with research and providing faculty with assistance with research projects. Once a faculty member has agreed to work with an apprentice, the apprentice-faculty pair jointly applies to the program. Students need not complete the Cohort URAP to apply for the Individual URAP, but those who have completed the Cohort URAP will be prioritized for selection into the Individual URAP if funds are limited.

For both modes, apprentices receive both course credit and a small monetary stipend for participating in the program for the semester. See below for more on both modes and how to apply to each one.

Fall Cohort URAP

For each fall semester, 6 COLA units (departments, centers, or initiatives) will offer an organized research experience for a cluster of students accepted to URAP. Developed and tailored to each unit’s respective disciplinary/interdisciplinary tradition, activities will be built around a key theme, research project, or set of projects and will involve cluster of apprentices regardless their level of research experience or training. Each unit’s semester-long Cohort URAP will be headed by a faculty advisor and a graduate student mentor.

Expectations of Participation

Over the course of the semester, apprentices will:

  1. Devote 3-4 hours per week to the activities organized by their assigned units, including a weekly one-hour meeting of all apprentices in the cluster with the graduate student mentor and/or faculty advisor.
  2. Attend biweekly seminar with all Cohort URAP participants across units, featuring presentations by COLA faculty and Ph.D. students highlighting the full breadth of methodological approaches to research and scholarship in the liberal arts.
  3. Completing a research project by the semester’s end (e.g., a submitted poster, paper, or media presentation), as assigned and evaluated by their assigned units.

Receive three-hours credit (LA 331R) and $500 upon satisfactory completion of the semester.

Application

  1. Students apply directly to the program using the application portal.
  2. The portal will describe the various COLA units offering the Cohort URAP for the next fall semester, and students will rank-order their preferences for the unit to which they will be assigned. 
  3. Applications will be evaluated by a COLA committee, which will make the final assignment of each selected apprentice to a specific unit’s Cohort URAP.

The application portal will open on April 15, 2022. They close May 6, 2022, and decisions will be made on June 3, 2022.

 

Fall 2022 Participating Units

  • Cohort Topic

    Determining Expertise in and through Social Media: Using Computational Rhetorical Analytics to Verify Qualification

    Proposed Team

    • 2 faculty: Dr. Casey Boyle, Rhetoric and Writing, and Dr. Scott Graham, Rhetoric and Writing
    • 1 graduate student: TBD; 1 graduate student from the DWRL
    • 4-5 Undergraduate Apprentices

     

    Drs. Boyle and Graham are widely recognized for their contributions to the fields of computational rhetoric and digital humanities. They have extensive experience with teaching and using computational technologies in Python and R to study text, language, and discourse. Drs. Boyle and Graham have published extensively in rhetoric, social science, and biomedical journals. Moreover, they also have substantial experience in graduate and undergraduate research supervision. Dr. Boyle has served as the director of the DWRL since 2017, and in that role he has facilitated professional development, pedagogical, and research supervision for over 25 graduate students. Additionally, Dr. Graham routinely supervises apprentice researchers in his lab. He has facilitated undergraduate research internships for approximately a dozen students in the Bridging Disciplines program, Undergraduate research apprenticeship program, and major-specific capstones. Given these experiences, Drs. Boyle and Graham are ideal facilitators for this inaugural URAP.

    Proposed Format Overview

    3 topical sub-modules: expertise; public health communication; social media

    3 functional approaches: content analysis; data collection; computational text analytics

    Brief Motivation

    Our proposed apprenticeship will give students an introduction to and practice in using computational methods for collecting, analyzing, and visualizing how expertise is leveraged in social media. That is, students will collect and analyze hundreds of social media profiles (e.g. Twitter) for those profiles’ use of expertise to participate in public discussions of health matters.

    The DWRL apprenticeship will provide a structure for students to learn basic programming (primarily R), the use of application programming interfaces (APIs) to access and curate data, data science approaches to data cleaning and wrangling, and to conduct text analytics investigations using a variety of techniques and methods.

    Proposed Format Details

    The URAP experience will involve weekly student-directed meetings discussing hands-on tutorials and/or relevant readings. The URAP training experience will focus on a series of self-guided and supervisor-led tutorials devoted to data science techniques and use of the R programming environment. Specific tutorials focused on:

    • General orientations to the R programming environment.
    • General orientations to data management packages within the R programming environment.
    • Use of R to connect to the Twitter API.
    • Use of R to parse textual data.
    • Use of R to visualize data and results.

     

    Students will also receive a general orientation to research design, interpretation of results, presentation of findings, and ethical consideration for investigating social media.

  • Gender, Race, Indigeneity, Disability, and Sexuality Studies GRIDS Initiative (Examining Arguments about Gender and Ethnic Studies Content)

    Research Topic and Description

    Arguments for and against Ethnic and Gender Studies

    Questions related to critical race theory, gender identity, and other issues of significance to ethnic and gender studies scholars continue to make the pages of news reports, the drafting tables of legislators, and the material for legal cases. Students who join this project will collect and examine such sources including speeches, news reports, court cases, and legislation to understand the contours of the arguments offered in defense of or against gender and ethnic studies content. This research is important for those interested in the projects of ethnic and gender studies because such arguments shape students’ and professors’ academic freedom, not to mention the life chances for racial, gender, and sexual minorities outside the university context.

    Proposed Team

    Faculty: Dr. Karma Chávez, Mexican American and Latino/a Studies, karma.chavez@utexas.edu

    Graduate Research Assistant: Anahí Ponce

    Dr. Chávez is the chair of the Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies, co-chair of the College of Liberal Arts Diversity Committee, and co-convener of the GRIDS Initiative. She has supervised numerous student research projects at the doctoral, master’s, and undergraduate levels and has served as her department’s graduate advisor.

    Proposed Apprenticeship Format

    The first part of the semester will involve readings and discussion on content and methodology. The second part of the semester will involve document collection and analysis. The following will be required for undergraduate apprentices on a weekly basis:

    • Attend a discussion of readings facilitated by the GRA (1 hour)
    • Attend a workshop with Dr. Chávez (1 hour)
    • Complete tasks related to the research project including source annotations, worksheets, source collection, or analysis. These tasks are designed to facilitate understanding of each aspect of the interpretive research process.
    • Enroll in LA 331R and attend a biweekly URAP seminar organized by CoLA

    Format Motivation

    This proposed format is designed to bring students to the table near the beginning of an interpretive research project so that they may get experience with many of the parts of that process such as reading existing scholarship and crafting a literature review, designing a research 2 project, and collecting and analyzing source materials. Moreover, the format is designed to encourage students to value collaboration and to learn to work and communicate effectively across lines of power difference (i.e., between themselves and the GRA and faculty mentor).

  • Humanities Institute (Mapping Violence)

    Project Team

    • Lead: Monica Martinez, Associate Professor, Department of History
    • Tanya Clement, Director, Initiative for Digital Humanities
    • 1 graduate student facilitator
    • 3 undergraduate research apprentices

     

    Dr. Monica Martinez works to diversify the academy by advising a new generation of scholars. This advising, in addition to her regular teaching responsibilities, is a crucial part of her contribution as a professor. As the curricular co-coordinator and faculty at the Institute for the Recruitment of Teachers (IRT) at Philips Academy, which helps prepare underrepresented minorities for graduate school, she mentored no less than 180 IRT students who matriculated into graduate programs. At Brown University, she mentored a broad group of underrepresented minorities by creating paid research opportunities and advising honors thesis projects. She served as a faculty mentor for four Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows. Leading a digital research lab required that she develop new pedagogical strategies to train what Tara McPherson calls “new hybrid practitioners.”

    At the University of Texas at Austin, where she has been an Associate Professor since August 2020, Martinez continues to create opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students to learn research methods and contribute to the Mapping Violence project. In the summer of 2021 Martinez hired four PhD students and two MA students to join the Mapping Violence Research Lab and in Spring 2022 she offered an undergraduate research methods class, “Mapping Violence”.

    Dr. Tanya Clement has over two decades of experience running, managing, and leading digital humanities (DH) projects. Clement will work with Martinez on developing the weekly workshops and integrating the students into the DH@UT ecosystem of DH projects, speakers, and activities as part of the Initiative for Digital Humanities (IDH).

    Project Overview

    During the twentieth century in the United States, untold thousands of people were victims of racially motivated lynchings, homicides, police shootings, bombings, physical assault, and banishment from communities. Much of this violence was state-sanctioned. As a result, assailants rarely faced arrest and grand juries regularly failed to issue indictments. Instead, victims were often criminalized. The suffering of racial and ethnic minorities was often disavowed by journalists, historians, and justice systems alike. But the full scope of this violence and the widespread historical trauma is still unknown.

    What would we learn if a record of racist violence existed? To answer that question, Mapping Violence is researching cases of racist violence in one state, Texas, during a relatively short period of time, between 1900 and 1930. Research findings will be made available to the public to help inform future research, policy, and public education. Mapping Violence will also develop methods to scale this project, geographically and temporally.

    The Undergraduate Apprentices

    The Undergraduate Apprentices will join a team of three COLA PhD students and and one MA student in the School of Information on the Mapping Violence research team. Our proposed format will enable students to get a sense of how collaborative projects are developed and carried out in Digital Humanities labs from the initial idea, to planning, to carrying out the project, to presenting it to the public, while offering a shepherding process–led by a graduate student facilitator–that allows the above can be achieved in the course of one semester.

    Every student on the team has a role in conducting archival research, writing narratives for the platform, collecting and organizing metadata, and wireframing interactive content. Humanities students develop a facility in designing a platform to satisfy a set of project goals, and the digital developers utilize humanities research methods to inform their programming.

    Proposed Format Details

    Each week, the undergraduate members of the cohort will participate in the following activities:

    1. Members will join a graduate student-facilitated group discussion of curated readings relevant to the sub-modules (1 hr).
    2. Members will attend the Mapping Violence project meetings (1 hr).
    3. Members will participate in hands-on workshop sessions on a weekly sub-module. At the end of each workshop, the students will be given homework (1-2 hrs of work) to be completed by the next session. The homework will promote student agency and engagement, and enable the participants to put their knowledge into practice.
    4. Members will enroll in LA 331R and attend a biweekly URAP seminar organized by CoLA
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  • Cohort Topic

    Research in International Politics - Applying advanced research approaches, ethics, and methods in a transnational research project.

    Proposed Team

    • 2 faculty: Dr. Mike Findley, Government, and Dr. Daniel Neilson, Government
    • 1 graduate student: TBD

     

    Drs. Nielson and Findley are directing the Innovations for Peace and Development (IPD) lab, which is a student-focused research lab that provides mentored opportunities for interdisciplinary, policy-relevant research on global conflict and peacebuilding, foreign aid, and poverty alleviation. Since 2013, IPD has brought together over 650 undergraduate and graduate students, and over 80 students were conducting research in Fall 2021. Our goals for the URAP Cohort pilot with IPD are to provide on-campus experiential learning, applied training, and professional opportunities to UT students to empower them to fulfill UT’s motto, “What Starts Here Changes the World.” Much like the traditional lab setting in the natural sciences, our team will work together with the URAP students to produce high quality research, investigate meaningful social phenomena, and train our next generation of social scientists.

    Proposed Format Overview

    3 topical sub-modules: research approaches in social science; research ethics; research methods
    3 functional approaches: curated readings; data collection; data analysis

    Brief Motivation

    Our proposed format is built specifically to nurture and challenge URAP undergraduates as they have their first experience with academic research. This format will ensure students gain foundational understanding of political science research, establish the importance of ethics in research, and provide hands-on experience in conducting research and analysis. We designed our approach to facilitate collaboration among the 3 URAP students while receiving individual mentorship and guidance from faculty and graduate students. 

    In the fall of 2022, URAP students assigned to IPD will be working specifically with our team conducting a transnational investigation of bias in local and national governments. The curated assignments will introduce them to the foundations of international research, provide them with a deeper understanding of project related research methods, equip them with skills to make meaningful contributions to the project, and enable them to propose their own collaborative research projects. In order to provide more comprehensive exposure to the various topics and methodologies used in political science, we have designed monthly workshops where all IPD teams will engage with each of the 9 current projects being worked on at IPD. We believe that our approach positions each of our undergraduate students to confidently pursue research in international politics and international development among other disciplines. 

    Proposed Format Details

    Undergraduate members of the cohort will participate in the following activities:

    1. Members will join a weekly graduate student-facilitated group discussion of curated readings relevant to the sub-modules (1 hr).
    2.  Members will attend our monthly IPD All Hands meeting (1 hr).
    3.  Members will participate in hands-on workshop sessions on a weekly basis. At the end of each workshop, the students will be given research tasks (2-3 hrs of work) to be completed by the next session. Each task will promote intellectual agency, student engagement, and enable the participants to put their knowledge into practice.
    4.  Members will enroll in LA 331R and attend a biweekly URAP seminar organized by CoLA.
  • Department of Psychology (Studying Brain-Behavior Interactions)

    Proposed Team

    • 3 faculty: Dr. Hongjoo (Joanne) Lee, Psychology; Dr. Juan Dominguez, Psychology; and Dr. Marie Monfils, Psychology
    • 3 graduate students: TBD; one graduate student from each PI lab

     

    Drs. Lee, Dominguez, and Monfils are widely recognized for their contributions to the field of behavioral neuroscience. They have an extensive and published track record in the approaches proposed for this URAP. Moreover, all three are well-known within the University community for their dedication to student training and pedagogical expertise, which have earned them repeated accolades from students and colleagues alike. Drs. Dominguez and Monfils have served as Graduate Advisors for the Department of Psychology and the Institute for Neuroscience, respectively, and Dr. Lee is the Chair of the Psychology Department’s Diversity Committee. Dr. Monfils is currently the Associate Chair for Research of the Psychology Department. Given all these factors, they are ideally suited for spearheading this inaugural URAP.

    Proposed Format Overview

    3 topical sub-modules: behavior; microscopy; stereology (unbiased cell counts)

    3 functional approaches: curated readings; data collection; data analysis

    Brief Motivation

    Our proposed format will enable students to get a sense of how projects are developed and carried out in Behavioral Neuroscience labs from the initial idea, to planning, to carrying out the project, and the data analysis, while offering a shepherding process in which the above can be achieved in the course of one semester.

    The area of behavioral neuroscience is vast, and can be best appreciated through the lens of multiple approaches operating in concert. This can prove challenging for one lab to offer to a cohort of undergraduate students in the course of a single semester. This is, in part, why we have decided to offer an approach in which 3 faculty members will each respectively lead one sub-module. Each sub-module offers a unique glimpse on the brain-behavior relationship, and all approaches come together into a coherent project. 

    In doing-so, we also inherently showcase an aspect of our research area that has historically led to some of the most interesting advances in the field—a spirit of collaboration.

    Proposed format details

    Each week, the Undergraduate member of the cohort will participate in the following activities:

    1. Members will join a graduate student-facilitated group discussion of curated readings relevant to the sub-modules (1 hr).
    2. Members will attend the Monfils-Lee joint lab meeting, or the Dominguez lab meeting (1 hr).
    3. Members will participate in hands-on workshop sessions on a weekly sub-module. At the end of each workshop, the students will be given homework (1-2 hrs of work) to be completed by the next session. The homework will promote agency and student engagement, and enable the participants to put their knowledge into practice.
    4. Members will enroll in LA 331R and attend a biweekly URAP seminar organized by CoLA.
  • Population Research Center (Biological x Sociological Approaches to Studying Heath Disparities)
    • Faculty Advisor: Jacob Cheadle, PhD, Professor, Department of Sociology
    • Co-Advisor: Bridget Goosby, Professor, Department of Sociology
    • Graduate Student Mentor: KJ Davidson-Turner

    Who We Are

    The Life in Frequencies Health Disparities (LifeHD) Research Lab focusses on the dynamics of social interaction, affect, and emotion. During the 2022-2023 academic year we will be developing and evaluating new techniques for real-time emotion tracking and comparing these metrics with dynamic new health biomarkers. Our goals are to capture the ebb and flow of positive and negative emotions more fully during daily life using wearable technologies, and to better capture the physiological processes contributing to long-term health trajectories. Understanding these dynamics is critical for characterizing how stress shapes health, including the ways that positive experiences aid recovery and support health. Central to our goals is the evaluation and assessment of new protocols and procedures that we are developing and will be implementing. Ultimately, these new procedures are being evaluated in order to better capture how racism and interpersonal discrimination both increase negative emotions and stress, and decrease opportunities for positive and restorative social experiences. 

    Apprentice Responsibilities and Activities

    • Apprentices will enroll in LA 331R.
    • Apprentices will spend approximately 10 hours per week contributing to research tasks identified and supervised by the Graduate Student Mentor. Examples of such tasks include the preprocessing of biomarker samples, participation in data collection activities including participant consent, survey delivery, electrophysiological recording, and biomarker data collection.
    • Apprentices will work closely with the Lab Manager and will attend a weekly one-hour lab meeting with the Graduate Student Mentor. This meeting will be attended at least monthly by Dr. Cheadle and/or Dr. Goosby.
    • Apprentices will attend a biweekly URAP seminar organized by CoLA.
    • Apprentices will complete a research project by the end of the semester. Examples include a manuscript description and evaluation of the novel biomarker data collection procedure, conference poster submissions, or other products as approved by the Faculty Advisor and Graduate Student Mentor.
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Spring Individual Cohort URAP

In each spring semester, COLA will support multiple students who secure faculty agreement for a mentored research experience.  If accepted, students will spend the semester working on that faculty member’s ongoing research project. Activities could include but are not limited to creating annotated bibliographies, transcribing focus group or interview data, cleaning or recoding survey data, performing basic statistical analyses, conducting literature searches and/or helping faculty to obtain literature, pulling and analyzing publicly accessible data, acting as note-taker or recorder in research meetings or data collection projects, and helping to organize and maintain large projects. The goal is to help students gain concrete research skills under the supervision of an experienced scholar so that they will develop a better understand of what research involves and be able to engage in their own independent research while still a student.

Expectations of Participation

Over the course of the semester, apprentices will:

  1. Devote 7-10 hours per week to the project’s activities, including a weekly face-to-face meeting between advisor and apprentice.
  2. Submit a discovery report by the semester’s end—describing the experience, key challenges and lessons learned, and future research plans—that will be evaluated by the faculty advisor.
  3. Receive three-hours credit (LA 331R) and $500 upon satisfactory completion of the semester. 

During the semester, faculty advisors will assign weekly tasks to be evenly distributed across the semester on a predictable schedule, meet with students on a weekly basis to discuss assigned tasks and other matters relevant to the research, work with apprentices to develop their own agenda for pursuing research, and evaluate the final discovery report. The faculty advisor $500 upon satisfactory completion of the semester.

Application

  1. The Individual URAP involves an application for an apprentice-faculty pair. Apprentices may recruit a faculty advisor appropriate to what they want to do, and faculty advisors may recruit an interested or motivated apprentice. The only requirement for application is that the faculty advisor is from a COLA department and the apprentice is a COLA major.
  2. Applications will be evaluated by a COLA committee.

The application portal for the Spring 2023 semester will open: November 1.

Students will be notified of decisions: December 1.

Preparing the Application

Proposals will be funded on a competitive basis and must include a brief description of the project as well as the benefit to the apprentice. Faculty must have a student apprentice in order to apply to the program. If you need assistance finding an apprentice, or if you are a student who would like to be considered, please contact Liz Clayton.

Successful applications:

  • Focus on the pedagogical value of the apprenticeship for the student rather than the importance of the research project itself.
  • Explain in detail the resources, archives, tools, and skills the student will acquire during the semester.
  • Make the goals of the apprenticeship clear (completion or start of a book, an article).

Clerical work, such as photocopying, correspondence, and securing permissions for publications should be minimal. Apprenticeships will not be awarded for the preparation of teaching materials or lectures. Apprenticeships are unlikely to be awarded for research already completed; therefore, manuscript preparation is not a sufficient project. If you have any questions about the program, please contact Liz Clayton.

Faculty Responsibilities

Faculty members are expected to assign tasks (such as those described below) to be performed on a weekly basis. The assigned workloads should be consistent across the semester. In other words, faculty should not assign few hours of work in one part of the semester and expect students to make it up with more hours later in the semester. Faculty are also expected to meet with students on a weekly basis to discuss assigned tasks, the scope of the research project, and its relation to the disciplinary field as a whole.

Student Responsibilities

Students' responsibilities must contain some research component. They are not required to write a paper to receive credit, though writing may be required as part of the workload. Students should not be assigned solely clerical tasks, such as photocopying or handling mailings (although these tasks may be assigned in conjunction with other more research-focused work). Some suggested tasks include:

  • Creating annotated bibliographies.
  • Transcribing focus group or interview data.
  • Cleaning or recoding survey data.
  • Performing basic statistical analyses.
  • Conducting literature searches and/or helping faculty to obtain literature.
  • Checking references/formatting manuscripts for publication.
  • Pulling and analyzing publicly accessible data.
  • Acting as note-taker or recorder in research meetings or data collection projects.
  • Helping to organize and maintain large projects.

Work, Credit Hours, and Grading

Students are expected to work 7-10 hours per week, including time spent with faculty discussing the work. For their research assistance, students will receive three hours of credit (for L A 331 R). These hours will not count towards the major, but will be graded; these hours may be taken during the summer semester for projects involving fieldwork. The work start date must lie between the first and twelfth class day.

Faculty and Student Requirements

Faculty must submit an application through the link above, and will be informed of their status prior to the beginning of the semester for which they have applied. Students must be undergraduates with a major in the College of Liberal Arts and no more than 60 credit hours at the start of the fall semester of the academic year in which they complete their apprenticeship.

Please note: CBE hours will not be counted toward the 60 hour maximum but transfer hours will be taken into account.

Faculty and Student Support

Faculty members will receive $1,000 of research support for their projects at the start of the semester in which they choose to have their apprentice. Funding may only be used to support the research project and must be used by the end of the fiscal year (the fiscal year ends in the August of the school year in which funding is received).

Upon successful completion of the course and meeting other criteria, students will receive a $500 scholarship in the semester following their apprenticeship.