The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences recently received five new grants from the University of Arizona Office of Research, Innovation and Impact, or RII. These grants reflect the varied and interdisciplinary research conducted in the College of SBS, from analyzing policing data to documenting endangered languages.
Faculty received grants from RII’s various internal grant programs. The Accelerate for Success program is designed to support team science by creating teams, broadening partnerships, and supporting the development and submission of extramural proposals. Faculty Seed Grants are designed to jump-start worthwhile projects by providing short-term, one-time support. And International Grants are designed to jump-start and quickly grow international research collaborations.
Here is more information about the funded projects:
Improving Learning by Personalizing Digital Reading Settings
Shelley Rodrigo, senior director of the Writing Program in the Department of English, received a $49,000 RII Accelerate for Success Grant for the project “Researching the Impacts of an Online Readability Lab in First Year Undergraduate and Graduate Learning.” Rodrigo is working in collaboration with Catherine Brooks (iSchool) and Aimee Mapes (English).
The project includes designing and testing a personalized digital reading preferences intervention plan – using the Virtual Readability Lab – for a sample of undergraduate and graduate students. The intervention will help students adapt their reading environment, including adapting PDFs using Adobe Acrobat’s Liquid Mode. The goal: improved reading speed and comprehension.
“People find different text easier to read. They might prefer different shapes, sizes, or even spacing. And when the text is easier to read, students will find themselves reading more in shorter periods of time. The ability to create personalized reading settings is a huge leap forward in accessibility for many,” Rodrigo said.
Examining Temperature Insecurity in Mobile Housing
Mark Kear, assistant professor in the School of Geography, Development & Environment, received a $45,000 RII Accelerate for Success Grant for the project “Heat, Housing, and Health: Convergent Exposure and Thermal Insecurity in Mobile and Manufactured Housing.” Kear is working in collaboration with UArizona faculty members Ladd Keith, Margaret Wilder, Gregg Garfin, and Kacey Ernst along with Patricia Solis and David Hondula at ASU.
Little is known about the temperatures people experience in their homes or how adverse impacts of home heat differ by race, age, gender, and housing type.
The team will develop a research protocol to measure home thermal security (HTS). HTS is the ability of a household to maintain a stable home thermal environment consistent with basic health, social, and financial needs. The researchers will also collect preliminary data about HTS in mobile or manufactured housing and examine the causes and potential remedies of thermal insecurity.
Policing Immigrant, Migrant, and Ethnic Enclaves as "Gang Neighborhoods"
Stefano Bloch, assistant professor in the School of Geography, Development & Environment, has received a $15,000 RII Faculty Seed Grant for his project “Policing Immigrant, Migrant, and Ethnic Enclaves as 'Gang Neighborhoods.'"
With the project, Bloch will collect and analyze historical and contemporary policing data made available by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and Tucson Police Department (TPD). Bloch has also received an invitation to observe the LAPD Gang Task Force and TPD in the field.
Bloch will work with students on the project, who will help analyze data and develop research questions related to the history of gang policing and contemporary needs for real-world police reform and to better contextualize defunding and reformist efforts. Bloch will focus on possible over-policing and disproportionate law enforcement on particular residents and communities in Los Angeles and Tucson, with an emphasis on the policing of ethnic and (im)migrant enclaves under the guise of "gang abatement."
Meeting Arabic Learners Changing Needs
Mahmoud Azaz, associate professor in the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies, received a $15,000 RII Faculty Seed Grant for the project “Instructed Second Language Acquisition of Agreement Asymmetries in Arabic.”
Azaz notes that federal support for learning Arabic coupled with the growing interest in Arabic nationwide have outstripped pedagogical approaches that meet learners’ changing needs.
With the funded project, Azaz will examine the acquisition/learning of challenging agreement asymmetries in Arabic through the lens of Instructed Second Language Acquisition (ISLA). Azaz will conduct four experimental studies for five cases of agreement asymmetries to determine the different effects of various instructional techniques.
The project is also part of a monograph under contract with Routledge Press on Arabic second language acquisition and pedagogy.
Conserving the Gonja and Lobi Languages of Northern Ghana
Wilson De Lima Silva, assistant professor in the Department of Linguistics, and Mette Brogden, assistant professor of practice in the Human Rights Program, received a $30,000 RII International Grant for the project “Documentation and Conservation of Gonja and Lobi Languages of Northern Ghana.”
This project begins a long-term, community-driven initiative for documenting and conserving two oral languages spoken in Ghana’s disadvantaged rural north. Native speakers of Gonja and Lobi languages from a local indigenous NGO – World Institute of Africa Culture and Traditions (WIACT) – will visit UArizona campus to participate in language documentation training. In addition, two professors and a graduate student will travel to Ghana to organize a language documentation workshop with additional community members.