Research-based Undergraduate Linguistics Experience (RULE)

In the LING 3930: RULE course, undergraduate students work on research with advanced doctoral students – for either 1, 2, or 3 course credits.

As a LING 3930: RULE student, you’ll develop important research-related skills such as data collection, coding, analysis, transcription, interpretation, and research reporting—and foster professional connections that may last beyond the semester. RULE will help you hone your professional identity, strengthen your CV, and build your experiences for your career-oriented portfolio. You’ll think critically and engage in discussions about crucial topics in linguistics today, including ethics, research methodology (trends, concerns, approaches, training, and hot takes!), diversity and inclusiveness, imposter syndrome, and more. At the end of this course, you will share (supported by the instructors) a polished, professional, and engaging presentation of your RULE experiences, roles, tasks, and lessons. The members of your RULE cohort are your classmates, your RULE-support teammates, and colleagues in another branch of your professional network.

 Descriptions of past RULE projects are listed below.

Examining world language teachers’ and trainers’ beliefs, practices, and perspectives on linguistics research during a collaborative professional development workshop

This study investigated how teachers engaged with SLA research in a professional development workshop based on a constructivist model of teacher education. It challenged the traditional transmission model of language teacher education, which focused on how often teachers read articles or attended conferences. The research used video-recorded observations, interviews, questionnaires, and reflective journals to examine teacher-facilitator interactions and their positioning toward SLA research in collaborative workshops. It aimed to understand the immediate and long-term effects of these workshops on language teachers’ practices and beliefs.

Research assistant’s key responsibilities:

Between disability and language: Special education teachers’ stories and voices of professional transformation

This qualitative case study was conducted in four Philadelphia schools, examining the education of English language learners (ELLs) with special needs. It explored the strategies, motivations, and challenges teachers and administrators face in providing English language instruction to these students. Using a combination of culturally responsive pedagogy and teacher agency frameworks, the study investigated educators’ experiences in mixed-needs classrooms. The research highlighted educators’ commitment to equitable instruction that both reaffirms student identities and empowers them in their daily teaching practices.

Research assistant’s key responsibilities:

Police-civilian discourse in the D.C. area

Using a narrative approach, this study focused on discourse about police-civilian interactions in the D.C. area. It involved collecting and analyzing stories from both police officers and civilians, resulting in approximately 50 narratives from 9 participants about their encounters. The analysis concentrated on how narrators reconstructed power dynamics, identities, and perceptions of the police through storytelling, with the aim of understanding differences in police and civilian perspectives. This research, distinct for its focus on post-encounter reconstructions rather than immediate recordings, sought to enhance police-civilian relationships and inform police training using insights from these narratives.

Research assistant’s key responsibilities:

Thinking with metaphor for climate action

This study examined the influence of framing in communication on beliefs and actions, focusing on climate change. It highlighted the role of metaphor in framing, showing how different metaphors can significantly affect people’s perceptions of and responses to climate change. Utilizing digital discourse analysis and cognitive interviews, the study explored how individuals use metaphors to understand the roles of various actors in addressing climate change. The findings were intended to inform future work on effectively framing climate change to encourage informed and proactive behavior.

Research assistant’s key responsibilities:

Reading (difficulties) in the elementary school classroom: L1 dyslexia interventions and L2 reading development

This study examined the reading behaviors of young native English speakers learning Spanish as a foreign language, comparing children with dyslexia to typically developing readers. The aim was to understand how learning to read in a second language (L2) differs for children with and without dyslexia. The research addressed the common practice of excluding dyslexic children from L2 classes due to teachers’ lack of knowledge in supporting their specific literacy needs. Ultimately, the study intended to provide insights that could help L2 teachers support dyslexic students effectively in L2 classrooms.

Research assistant’s key responsibilities:

Watched videos of child participants reading in Spanish and English to stuffed animals and followed along with the book using the spreadsheet for the book they were reading. In the spreadsheet…

Texting in “love languages”: L2 investment and intercultural identity development in multilingual couples’ digitally-mediated conversations

This mixed-methods study investigated digitally-mediated communication in multilingual romantic partnerships, analyzing how it affects intercultural communication, identity, and second language (L2) learning. Focusing on 20 multilingual couples, it compared self-reported language use and actual language trends in private text messaging. The study combined qualitative thematic analysis of interviews and text conversation screenshots with quantitative computational linguistics methods. The aim was to understand the relationship between digital communication patterns and the development of language learning, L2 investment, and intercultural identities in these couples.

Research assistant’s key responsibilities:

Adopting Black speech in popular music: A sociolinguistic analysis of Justin Bieber’s invented identities

This linguistic case study investigated Justin Bieber’s use of Black speech features in his music, adding quantitative evidence to sociolinguistic research on White American artists appropriating Black speech for social and commercial success. Building on previous studies, it analyzed Bieber’s rate of copula absence, comparing it to data from other Black and White Hip Hop artists. Preliminary results indicated that Bieber is more likely to omit the copula in songs featuring Black artists and inconsistently uses Black speech features to construct a “street-conscious” Hip Hop persona. This suggests a pattern of code-crossing, where Bieber alternates between dialects without having social legitimacy, highlighting a broader trend of the American music industry commodifying Black identity.

Research assistant’s key responsibilities:

K-16 World Language Program articulation

This empirical study investigates the articulation of less commonly taught languages (LCTLs) programs from K-12 to higher education, particularly in Community Colleges (CCs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) across the United States. It aims to produce actionable results to address the challenges in secondary and post-secondary world language program articulation. The study focuses on the impact of K-16 articulation on student retention, curriculum continuity, and learning experiences, addressing a gap in national data and the need for evidence-based recommendations. It will identify current articulation efforts, challenges, and the role of state-level policies, incentives like the Seal of Biliteracy, and institutional practices in facilitating effective K-16 language program articulation.

Research assistant’s key responsibilities: