BYU's Sociology Department is known for providing students with quality, in-depth research experience across a variety of topics. Students are able to participate in every part of the research process: collecting, analyzing, and presenting data. Students have opportunities to work on publishable papers, present at conferences, and do poster presentations. Below are examples of projects that current and past students have worked on as well as on-going projects that are open for new students to participate in.
Gender and STEM Majors This mixed-method study uses a quantitative survey of over 3,000 BYU students to understand the factors that go into picking a college major. We also conducted 50 qualitative interviews with students that are "gender minorities" in their major--in other words, men in mostly female-dominated majors and females in mostly male dominated majors. We also interviewed female students that dropped out of STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) majors to understand the circumstances that might explain women's underrepresentation in STEM.
This study was selected by the FHSS college as the best student project of the year, won the Sociology divison of the Mary Lou Fulton conference, and was spotlighted on BYU's website here.
For more information contact Dr. Benjamin Gibbs: email@example.com
Who’s Winning Innovation: Organizations or Individuals?
Although the image of the individual inventor is venerated in the U.S., innovation is becoming the domain of organizations. Organizations, especially large organizations, possess the financial resources, human capital, and teams of legal experts necessary to navigate the cumbersome patenting process. Thus, this research seeks to answer the following questions: Are corporations becoming the locus of innovation at the expense of individual inventors? Is the individual inventor becoming extinct? Or, do innovation activities in organizations generate positive externalities that also benefit individuals?
This research seeks to answer these questions by collecting and analyzing qualitative and quantitative data on patenting activity for organizations and individuals in the U.S. Data sources include historical data from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, organizational and demographic data for metropolitan areas in the U.S., and interviews with inventors who have been granted solely owned patents as well as patents assigned to organizations.
The past decade has
witnessed a surge of research on projects designed for communities in
developing countries that highlights the critical role social context plays in
adoption. Whether a development project is adopted often depends on whether the
technology or practice is deemed “appropriate” for users within the local
community by resonating with their social norms and cultural preferences.
Although efforts have been made by scholars and practitioners to identify social
and cultural factors that affect development projects, no systematic attempts
have been made to classify, define, and measure these factors or to examine
whether the factors that impact adoption in one setting are robust in other
settings. Moreover, current theoretical approaches remain relatively silent
about how technical project features interact with social and cultural
characteristics of communities to influence the success of development projects.
To identify the relevant factors and assess the
fit between technical specifications of development projects and the social
conditions of the community that the project is designed to serve, this
research, which is being conducted in conjunction with faculty in the
Departments of Chemical and Mechanical Engineering, examines the adoption of
Improved Cookstoves (ICS) in less developed regions. This research project
consists of reviewing research articles on ICS, identifying the social factors
that are consequential for adoption of ICS, and classifying these factors along
several dimensions including things like the economy, community practices, and
family characteristics. The second part of this research involves a survey of
ICS designers that asks questions about ICS design features, success rates, and
social factors that impede success.
For more information, or to participate, contact Dr. Eric
Family structure and Child Outcomes across
uses large quantitative data sets to examine how family structure affects child
outcomes in different countries. The first paper to come out of the project
looks at how being in different family structures (two-parent married;
two-parent cohabiting; two-parent mother-stepfather; two-parent
father-stepmother; single-parent mother; single-parent father) influences
children's internalizing (being shy or clingy) and externalizing (throwing
tantrums; biting) behavior problems, and at whether those patterns differ
between the United States and the United Kingdom. We anticipate further
expanding to comparisons to other English-speaking countries (Canada and
Australia) and then to non-English-speaking countries (currently Germany,
Japan, and South Korea). Involved students take "ownership" of a data
set for a particular country and are responsible for preparing the data for
analysis; we anticipate that they will continue on to practice sophisticated
For more information, or to participate, contact Dr. Mikaela Dufur: firstname.lastname@example.org
How do parents decide which school their
especially interested in whether there are racial/ethnic differences across
parents' decision-making mechanisms. We've focused on a specific area in Salt
Lake City that is racially diverse. Students involved in the project have been
involved in preparing the IRB proposal and the interview guide; in interviewing
parents; and in transcribing and analyzing the interview data.
Parental Involvement in Elementary Schools
The first is a mixed method project on
school-based parental involvement across three diverse elementary schools. My
students and I have and surveyed conducted over 120 qualitative interviews with
parents, teachers and administrators to understand how, why, and when parents
become involved in their child's education in the first year of school.