Undergraduate Student Research
Attending university is all about learning – in classes, in the residence halls, and in research labs. In RCLS undergraduate students have opportunities to work one-on-one with faculty and as members of research teams to create new knowledge.
Students may be engaged in applied research where they work to answer a specific question an agency or organization wants to answer. This might be in the form of an evaluation (of the whole agency, a program, or a process), a master plan or comprehensive plan where students help a community determine the adequacy of their recreation and park resources, or the development of a tourism plan to help the economy of an eastern North Carolina community.
In other cases, students may be involved in more basic research. In this type of research, a faculty member or a student has a question they want answered, and they set up a study to help do that. This might include determining which type of recreational therapy intervention is more effective than another in treating people with autism, what motivates youth to be involved in group sports, or how leadership is developed through involvement in Campus Recreation or the Greek system on campus.
If you are interested in learning how to ask and answer intriguing questions related to your major or minor, talk with your Faculty Mentor and/or look at the RCLS Faculty Profiles to see which faculty may share your interests. Then, approach that faculty member and ask if s/he would be interested in working with you on such a project.
To earn academic credit for work done one-on-one with a faculty member, students need to complete an online Independent Study Form—the faculty member with whom you will be working assists in completing that form. In addition to academic credit, support is available from the Office of Undergraduate Research, which assists students with finding research opportunities on campus. In some cases, students may be eligible to receive research awards, which cover expenses related to research.
When completed, students then have an opportunity to share their work and findings through events during the ECU Research and Creative Achievement Week, scholarly journals, and professional conferences.
Graduate Student Research
Those seeking a Master of Science degree in RCLS generally are interested in learning as much as possible in the short time they are in their graduate program. And, indeed, one of the exciting aspects of being a graduate student is being able to work hand-in-hand with faculty who are doing research and making a difference through their scholarship. Graduate students often conduct their own research projects as part of classes, independent study courses, and/or through a thesis or special project.
Many RCLS graduate students have presented at the ECU Research and Creative Achievement Week events, and at state, national, and international conferences and meetings. In addition, graduate students often are co-authors on publications in national journals.
Recent graduate research projects have included:
- Determining if the use of Wii® had a positive effect on the balance of older adults
- Investigating how involvement in campus recreation contributes to student leadership development
- Examining the effects of aquatic therapy on fitness levels of Special Olympics athletes
- Determining if and how video games had a positive effect on treating PTSD
- Researching the influence of sports participation on people with vision impairments
- Looking at tourist profiles and sustainability of local tourism events
- Exploring the benefits of physical activity for youth in rural communities
- Investigating the effectiveness of parent education programs at youth sporting events
- Examining the relationship between sensation-seeking to risk assessment in a SCUBA course
- Discovering the benefits of international tourism for people who are later in life
- Looking at factors that affect perceived crowding at a national seashore
- Investigating conflicts between anglers and personal watercraft users
- Exploring wellness outcomes among adolescents participating in leisure activities
- Understanding outdoor play and a pro-environment orientation
- Measuring the effect of video games in improving cognition among people over 50 years old
If you are interested in learning how to ask and answer intriguing questions related to your graduate program, talk with your Faculty Mentor and/or look at the RCLS Faculty Profiles to see which faculty may share your interests. Then, approach that faculty member and ask if s/he would be interested in working with you on a project.
To earn academic credit for your research work that is not your thesis, you will need to complete an online Independent Study Form—the faculty member with whom you will be working can assist you in completing that form. In addition to academic credit, support is available from the Division of Research and Graduate Studies. In some cases, students may be eligible to receive research awards, which cover expenses related to research.
In the end, faculty are delighted to help students either present or publish their research findings. Such presentations are wonderful experiences for the students, and help to let others know the great things that are happening in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies at East Carolina University.