Two Shepherd students made a presentation at the International Conference in Education, Research, Humanities, and Statistics in Washington, D.C. Tyler A. Dotson and Nadine Stotler, both from Martinsburg, presented findings from a study titled “Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement as an Expectation.” In addition, Dr. Chiquita Howard-Bostic, chair of the Department of Sociology and Geography, delivered the conference keynote address on the pervasiveness of human trafficking in the U.S. and abroad.
Howard-Bostic mentored both students in the research, which attempted to better understand whether students enrolled in upper- and lower-division undergraduate sociology courses embrace the idea of having a required service-learning component as a class assignment. Howard-Bostic generated a questionnaire to assess whether these students enjoyed volunteering. Student researchers distributed the survey to several classes over three semesters.
Dotson and Stotler worked as research assistants for the sociology and geography department to generate findings, which showed student participants enjoyed the volunteer experience and perceived of it as a positive addition to each course. Students agreed that time spent volunteering helped them gain a better understanding of their roles as citizens and fostered a better connection between students and the local community.
Eric Schwartz, CEO of Advena World Conference, presented Dotson and Stotler with trophies to honor them for presenting research for the first time at a business and academic conference. Both students said they found the experience valuable.
“This opportunity to conduct and present research at a professional conference was extremely rewarding,” Dotson, a sociology major, said. “The research experience has opened my eyes to new possibilities.”
“The Advena conference was a very new experience, and I particularly enjoyed it because there were people there from all over the world,” Stotler, a psychology major, said. “It was an engaging group of knowledgeable speakers presenting interesting and relevant material.”
Aside from conducting the research, Dotson volunteers at School Sharpener, an after-school program at Asbury United Methodist Church in Shepherdstown assisting youth with homework and delivering various enrichment activities. When he graduates, he hopes to pursue a career in law enforcement.
Stotler is vice president of the International Student Union and president of the Sociology and Criminology Club. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in industrial and organizational psychology.
“Shepherd students are among the most giving students I have ever encountered in my 10 years in academia,” Howard-Bostic said. “It is always an honor to encourage students and faculty to support populations in need. Active learning is an amazing experience. I encourage all students to have a voice and to make a difference.