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MURI Program: Social Science Research Assistant

DUE is home to IEL and the CRL which is administering the Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Research Institute (MURI) both in the academic year and the summer, which creates and supports multidisciplinary research teams consisting of undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, senior staff and faculty. The primary purpose of these teams is to provide undergraduates a unique opportunity to gain research skills by working with mentors on real world problems.

Overview of department:
This project brings together faculty from the Departments of Sociology and Geography in the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. The School of Liberal Arts has a strong commitment to "creating and exchanging knowledge that promotes understanding of the human experience." We take a multidisciplinary, social scientific approach to learn more about how the physical features of the environment support social relationships and the health/well-being of older adults.

Project summary:
  1. Qualitative Position A: 2 students working on the qualitative portion of the project will assist with qualitative data collection including recruitment and interviewing older adults about their experiences.
  2. Quantitative Position B: 2 students working on the quantitative portion of the project will assist with compiling geographic and health data for Indiana counties.

Specific tasks that the MURI student will complete: 
Qualitative Position (A)
  • Conduct in-depth literature review of the role of the environment for supporting the health/well-being of older adults among low-income rural and urban areas
  • Assist with recruitment and collection of in-depth interviews
  • Assist with coding and analysis of qualitative data

Quantitative Position (B)
  • Create document summarizing the key demographic, health, and geographic features of rural and urban communities in Indiana
  • Collect and summarize county-level data on key facilities that shape local social interactions (e.g., libraries, parks, senior centers, fast food restaurants, etc.)
  • Analyze differences in levels of facilities across rural and urban counties and health statistics among older adults -Complete Google Map audits of specific neighborhoods

Specific qualifications (knowledge, skills, class standing, etc) we desire the MURI student to have:

All positions: Familiarity with social scientific research, excellent communication skills, organized, reliable, strong critical thinking and analytical skills

Qualitative Position (A): Interviewing experience and/or comfortable with interviewing Experience completing searches of the literature and creating annotated bibliographies

Quantitative Position (B): Data entry and analysis experience and/or completed quantitative/statistics course(s)

Learning objectives:
By the end of this position assignment, the student will meet the following learning objectives

  1. Summarize the role of the environment for supporting social relationships and the health and well-being of older adults
  2. Apply social scientific approaches to data collection and analysis
  3. Evaluate what physical features of the environment are most important for maintaining the health of older adults