Kansas State University


Department of Communication Studies

Undergraduate Research

Along with working hard in the classroom, many students in communication studies are pursuing their interests by collaborating with faculty on research projects. Two students – Aaron Cunningham and Samantha Pratt – recently completed independent research projects andpresented their findings at conferences. Their experiences spotlight the department’s emphasis on high impact learning experiences, faculty-student mentorship, and undergraduate research.

Aaron Cunningham20160323_145935
Senior, Communication Studies
Area of research: Restorative Justice

Cunningham has been working with Gregory Paul, assistant professor in communication studies, in the area of restorative justice.
“(This) was something that interested me, both because of my future aspirations to be an attorney, as well as my faith’s strong ties with restorative justice practices,” said Cunningham.
Last year, supported by funding from the College of Arts and Sciences, Cunningham engaged in research on people’s willingness to participate in a victim offender conference (VOC), in which victims and offenders meet to share their experiences of the offense and work out reparation together. The research project examined how individuals’ conflict goals and perceived support from people close to them influenced their willingness to engage in alternative justice practices such as VOCs. Cunningham and Paul presented their findings at the Central States Communication Association conference and are working toward publishing their work.
In addition, Cunningham assisted Dr. Paul and Thea Nietfeld with a community-engaged research initiative supported by K-State’s Center for Engagement and Community Development and the Kettering Foundation concerning juvenile justice in Kansas.

Samantha PrattIMG_3588
Senior, Communication Studies
Area of research: Volunteer Motivation

Samantha Pratt’s research project Motivations Among Men to Volunteer: Persuasive Volunteer Messages was part of the communication studies Senior Research Colloquium. The colloquium is a requirement for communication studies students, with the goal of helping them develop valuable research and presentation skills.
Pratt worked with Bronwyn Fees, Associate Dean of Human Ecology, and communication studies professor Tim Steffensmeier on the project. Her study addresses how people are motivated to volunteer and how people respond to different types of volunteer recruitment messages, with a focus on male volunteers in particular.

Samantha will be returning to K-State next year to continue her education in the communication studies master’s program.

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