Undergraduate research provides students with skills that employers value, including critical thinking, collaboration and communication. One way students practice those skills is participating in the annual Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities Conference. Held virtually in 2020, more than 150 students from the College of Letters and Science shared their research online. Here are a few highlights from their presentations.
Discourse surrounding black and mixed-race women's hair
When it comes to defining the ideal standard for beautiful hair, black and mixed-race women’s kinks and curls are often not seen as a beautiful," says cinema and digital media major Chara Andrews. In her undergraduate research project, she seeks to reverse negative stigmas surrounding black hair by tracing the history of this topic and identifying cultural and societal influences. Her research aims to disseminate a narrative that no longer separates “good hair” from “bad hair."
Chicana/o studies courses' psychological impact on students
Can Chicana/o studies classes support students’ psychological well-being and academic success? Ivan Rocha, a fourth-year psychology major, sought answers for his undergraduate research project. "Chicana/o studies courses provide students meaningful/unique in-class experiences that allow them to embrace their identity, build self-confidence, find a community, and succeed," Rocha concluded.
Managing in-class multitasking
Should teachers allow "tech breaks" for students to use their phones during class? Michael Kohn, a fourth-year neurobiology, physiology and behavior major, explored this question in his undergraduate research project earlier this year. He found students who were given tech breaks delayed their phone usage in class and scored better on tests than those who did not have a tech break. Kohn worked with Andrew Yonelinas, professor of psychology and director of the UC Davis Human Memory Lab.
— Becky Oskin, content strategist in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science