The Center for Research & Scholarship (CRS) encourages and supports faculty and student engagement in research activities that advance the academic reputation of the University and assists students with gaining the skills required for achieving success in the career path of their choice. The following faculty and student researchers are just one example of research that is taking place here at Liberty University.
School: College of Arts and Sciences
Department: Modern Languages
The research focus is on how interpreters affect the world’s view on Deaf culture and ASL.
If I am honest, I would have to admit I had reservations about first becoming a research mentor several years ago. But that first experience really lit a fire in me for my own research and to encourage more students to conduct research. Research can take so many forms and can be accomplished on a variety of different levels. I remember watching my first research mentee start with much trepidation about things like not being qualified to conduct the research (ie. Having a degree) or not knowing how to move forward in the process, but with a little encouragement she quickly took off and has not stopped since (she is now pursuing graduate work)! Each student I have mentored has taken their own path, but almost each and every time somewhere on the journey they discover that the project is not just about school; it is about something much bigger.
What impact will this research have in your field?
American Sign Language (ASL)/English Interpreting is a relatively young profession with its organized history only reaching back to the 1960s. The field is complex, weaving together elements of Deaf culture, sociolinguistics, linguistics, ASL, English, and more. With so many layers and so few years, there is a dearth of research available. Much of the sparse research we do have access to is often older. With students like Madison, new, more current information is being brought to the profession. Previous ASL and Interpreting (ASLI) students have also participated in Research Week and had their work impact the field in the form of a foundation for a master’s thesis, and a precursor to an interpreting workshop. One student’s work was published into Liberty’s digital commons and has over 980 downloads in 56 countries, while another student has over 1,000 downloads! These are undergraduate researchers making a difference in a profession and Madison will now be making an impact as well.
It is exciting for me to watch young students transform from classroom learners to individuals with a passion to seek out answers and then use that information to make a difference. I consider it a privilege to be able to come alongside them and encourage them, or sometimes just to watch them, as they start to open doors, make new discoveries, and create new connections that will impact the interpreting profession and the Deaf community.
The initial research agenda starts with an idea. Madison had several good ideas for her project and chose one she felt passionate about. The Honors program has been instrumental with establishing a timeline for the process (due dates etc.) and I have been acting as a resource and hopefully a source of encouragement.
School: College of Arts and Sciences
Major: American Sign Language and Interpreting
Mentor: Dr. Nicole D. Thorn
Currently, I am researching how interpreters affect the world’s view on Deaf culture and ASL. Sign language interpreters tend to be the main sign language model for the hearing community. My research is going to discover if this negatively impacts the hearing world’s perspective of the Deaf community and by proxy, ASL. Most hearing individuals’ only interactions with sign language come from watching interpreters across the room. From this observation, many hearing people begin to make assumptions about the Deaf community and about what sign language is. These assumptions are made without ever fully interacting with the Deaf community or even sign language. My goal is to research the full extent of this error of thinking and the assumptions that people conclude.
I am currently a part of the Honors Program here at Liberty. One of the requirements for the Honors Program is doing a separate project every semester. When I approached Professor Thorn about what my project should be, she suggested that I cater my project for Research Week.
I hope that this research will help me become more prepared and knowledgeable about my field. While I am currently not planning on using this research for grad school, I hope that I can utilize what I have learned from this for interpreting workshops in the future.
It has been fascinating to learn more about the field that I am going into. My favorite part of research week was when I got to share what I learned with others. People were so interested in learning about my research and I loved sharing my discoveries with them.
I would definitely tell them that it is going to be a very time-consuming project, but the actual Research Week makes it all worth it. It is important to remember that when you are in the middle of the research and it seems like there is so much that needs to be done. I would also encourage them to pick something they are passionate about. For Research Week, I was able to combine two areas of study that were fascinating to me, which made the research more exciting.