Research Learning Experiences (RLEs) invite students to find their passion and make impactful connections through hands-on learning and the creation of new knowledge. Students engage in projects where they can learn by doing, express themselves artistically, contribute to a service initiative, or take part in authentic inquiry through planning, data collection, analysis, and reporting.
UMF incorporates RLEs into the first year experience by including high impact activities (e.g., Fusion Week or other intensive experiential activities) into First Year Seminar
UMF provides sophomores with an “Advanced RLE” delivered through discipline-specific courses. Advanced RLEs engage students with external partners relevant to professional practice and career exploration (especially those that might lead to internships, clinicals, or other non-curricular student experiences). Advanced RLEs may choose to also include a high impact experience.
RLEs are supported by a generous donation from the Harold Alfond Foundation as part of UMS TRANSFORMS.
Spring 2023 RLE Courses
First Year RLEs: First Year Seminar
Popular Horror Narratives
FYS 100 Section 3
In our contemporary culture, horror narratives are everywhere: in the movies we watch, the podcasts we listen to, the books we read, and the games we play. At first glance, this might be surprising: why do people enthusiastically seek out ways to be feel uncomfortable, uneasy, and scared? This class will search for answers to this question in a sustained manner by investigating horror narratives embedded within a wide variety of genres including novels, poems, television shows, short stories, films, video games, and podcasts. In addition to writing formal analytical essays about these primary texts, students will also actively develop their own creative horror narratives in the genre of their choosing as a final project in the course. RLE activities include screening one of horror director Caryn Waechter’s films via Zoom session during which my students can learn about how she became a horror director; an informal chat session with director Jayne Decker to discuss not only the play (which students will attend after they have read the original novel) but also what led her to the theatre; and a Zoom Q&A with horror video game developer Hallie Larsson about their career.
Environmental and Natural Resource Economics
Preparing Students for Tourism and Economic Analysis
The interaction between environmental quality and the environment is important everywhere, but is of particular interest here in Maine. Many Maine businesses have used the Maine environment as part of their brand (Poland Springs and L.L. Bean as examples) and, as a significant driver of the state’s economy, the tourism industry relies heavily on Maine’s plentiful environmental amenities (mountains, lakes, beaches, etc) and recreational activities (snowmobiling, boating, hunting and leaf peeping). This course will examine the interaction between economics and environment by exploring the concepts of externalities, public goods and common property resources, along with cost/benefit analysis and environmental policy analysis. To deepen our understanding of these concepts, students will apply these concepts to a local issue through a semester-long research project. Professional and career exploration in tourism, hospitality, and economic analysis is provided via attendance at the Maine Governor’s Conference on Tourism.
PSY 284 Section 3
Preparing Students for Internships and Graduate Training in Psychology
Students in this advanced RLE will develop a whole-group research project investigating belonging on a college campus and present their findings to the campus community. This will include (1) investigating psychological literature related to the concept of belonging, (2) developing belonging-related research questions, (3) collecting data from UMF students, and (4) drawing conclusions about belonging on a college campus. Throughout the course, students will engage in research-supported activities inside and outside of class to build rapport and belonging within the group. Students will spend time investigating internships, graduate school opportunities and career paths in psychology. This career exploration portion of the class will culminate with visits from 2 UMF psychology Alumni (one who pursued graduate school and one who did not; both who are working in psychology-related fields).
Social Psychology Lab
PSY 397 Section 1
Preparing Students for Research and Clinical Careers in Psychology
The UMF Social Psychology Research Lab is an opportunity for undergraduates to create and implement an original study of human behavior. Students will collect and review relevant psychological literature; articulate a hypothesis or research question; and design a study examining how personality impacts evaluations of text messages and emojis. Text messages are an increasingly ubiquitous aspect of human communication, and researchers are just beginning to study how this mode differs from F2F and vocal (phone call) communication. This topic was chosen to demonstrate that we can best answer intriguing questions about human behavior if we are familiar with psychological measurements (e.g., how psychologists assess the Big 5 personality traits). We will host two guest speakers who have published research studies in social science journals. They will explain their research as well as the path they traveled to attain their current positions as social scientists. By the end of the term, students will have experience 1) locating and evaluating relevant social scientific findings 2) writing a testable hypothesis 3) creating an experiment that validly tests a hypothesis 4) conducting an experiment (data collection while following ethical human subject protocols) 5) statistical analysis, conducting simple data analysis and inferential and descriptive statistics (t-tests, Pearson correlations) 7) mastering how to write a summary of a simple quantitative psychological study 8) evaluating how the study’s findings may inform existing research on emoticon use (encoding) and perception (decoding) as well as how these steps 1) answer scientifically important questions 2) are employed by working researchers in experimental psychology.