Research

My research areas are:

social success skills
culturally relevant media production
game development
graphic novels
interactive narratives

I examine the various ways media can influence the development of social success skills (e.g. social intelligence, interpersonal skills, intrapersonal skills, and emotional intelligence) in underrepresented youth. My investigations also analyze the strengths and weaknesses of different media formats (e.g. video games, television, books) so that media content can be appropriately produced and delivered to diverse populations. Additionally, I explore the sociocultural factors that are present during the inception, design, and production phases of technology and media projects. All of my interests are driven by my desire to improve the media experiences and social lives of underserved populations.
The findings from my research investigations are intended for parents and educators who wish to understand how the youth in their care are impacted by their social surroundings and their media experiences. The conclusions are also meant for educational media producers who are seeking guidance on how to create effective pro-social media content.

Social Success Skills

noun

1. an umbrella term for all skills, traits, and knowledge areas (outside of the traditional academic set of reading, writing, and arithmetic) that increase an individual's potential to achieve social success.
2. social intelligence, interpersonal intelligence, intrapersonal intelligence, emotional intelligence, non-cognitive skills, grit

(Degand, 2013)


The importance of social success skills has been discussed for many years. In 1909, Dewey introduced the term "social intelligence" and initially defined it as "the power of observing and comprehending social situations." A decade later, in 1920, Thorndike popularized the term and further defined it as "the ability to understand and manage men and women, boys and girls—to act wisely in human relations." Interpersonal intelligence (Gardner, 2004), intrapersonal intelligence (Gardner, 2004), emotional intelligence (Salovey & Mayer, 1990), non-cognitive skills (Heckman & Rubinstein, 2001), and grit (Duckworth, Peterson, Matthews, & Kelly, 2007) are examples of additional terms that have been used to describe the social skills that are deemed necessary for success.

My on-going research work on this topic is listed below:
1. Online Archive

An evolving online information resource for existing research theories and models about social success. An archived selection of books and research articles about social success are introduced and reviewed.


2. Article in Progress

"How do you know when you’ve won? The case for social success mediation theory".


3. Book Manuscript

Greater emphasis is being placed on teachers learning how to develop social success skills, schools incorporating the teaching of these skills into their curriculums, and students demonstrating them in multiple meaningful ways. However, there are many debates concerning how social success skills should be assessed, whether they can be nurtured, and what impacts they can make in an individual’s life. I am working on a book manuscript tentatively titled A Contextually-Rich Historical Exploration of Social Success Skills. This book furthers our understanding of the current dialogue by looking at key moments during American history when notable works of literature about social success skills were published. I provide a comprehensive, yet concise, synopsis of select articles and books about social success skills while also providing details on the historical context and the sociocultural factors that influenced each author.

Culturally Relevant Media Production

noun

A set of criteria socially conscious media producers can use to produce effective instructional entertainment content.


Culturally Relevant Media Production requires that the following three criteria be observed during the development of all products that have prosocial goals for our society:
1. Instructional Methods and Theories: Make use of proven educational methods and theories. The methods and theories chosen by the producer should be those that are most appropriate for the specific media format the product will be delivered through.
2. Culturally Conscious Content: The content presented should be accurate and respectful of all cultural groups (and when possible, multiple cultural perspectives should be provided in a story).
3. Critical Thinking Skills Support: Include content that supports the development of critical thinking skills and helps promote positive self-discovery.

My on-going research work on this topic is listed below:
1. Article in Progress

"Mediated Production Activity Theory: A theoretical framework for analyzing media production processes"


2. Article in Progress

"Stereotypes vs. strategies: Toward a theory of culturally relevant media production."


3. Online Resource

I am developing an online resource for media producers, media consumers, educators, and parents who are interested in culturally relevant media. The site will be an evolving online information portal with strategies and guidelines that can be followed during the production process. Existing media products will also be reviewed and graded to determine if and how they follow the Culturally Relevant Media Production criteria.

Game Development

In the past, advancements in video game technology have often involved improvements in the realism of graphics, sound, and motion. Now, radically new approaches to socializing through portable devices, social networking sites, virtual worlds, augmented reality, and alternate reality games have created opportunities for game designers to promote the types of social narrative play being recommended for the development of social success skills.

I explore the sociocultural factors that are present during the inception, design, and production phases of a gaming product. Additionally, I create design documents and game prototypes to learn more about gaming technologies, design and development best practices we need to follow during production.

My on-going research work on this topic is listed below:
1. Participant Observations of a browser based strategy game

"Forge of Empires"


2. Participant Observations and Analysis of a career game

"NBA 2K11"


3. Game Design Document

This document includes the game mechanics and design decisions that will be implemented in a game I am creating about the reliability of information.

Graphic Novels

Graphic novels are a unique form of media that our society now appreciates as an art form. The content from graphic novels, comic books, and comic strips have inspired some of the most successful television shows and blockbuster movies. Superheroes make up a large percentage of protagonist in graphic novels, however, a large number of stories follow the lives of regular humans. Graphic novels have the power to explain concepts, teach school subjects, introduce cultures, and explore life experiences from multiple perspectives in ways that other forms of narrative media cannot. Yet, they also plays a role in teaching and perpetuating the harmful cultural stereotypes present in our society because they contain simplified and exaggerated story content and art.
I examine the sociocultural factors that are present during the inception, design, and production phases of graphic novels. Additionally, I create scripts, storyboards, and characters to learn more about the best practices we need to follow during production.

My on-going research work on this topic is listed below:
1. Interactive Comic Prototype

I am investigating the use of HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS to create an online interactive comic book framework that can be re-used by swapping out different creative assets and settings.


2. Literature Review

A review of literature on African American graphic novels and the sociocultural context surrounding their creation, distribution, and societal impact.


3. Course Development

"Society and the Evolution of the Graphic Novel" is a course that will provide students with a historical overview of the origins of graphic novels and the role society has played in the evolution of this media format. We would also analyze how technology has influenced the different ways graphic novels are experienced and we will examine the social messages that are communicated in graphic novel stories.

Interactive Narratives

In 1969, Edward Packard first introduced a new form of interactive story-telling known as the "Adventures of You." It is a second-person narrative book series where readers can choose different choices to affect the story path. Eventually these books became known as "Choose Your Own Adventures." Today's digitally supported technologies have created opportunities for media producers to expand the possibilities for interactive story-telling experiences far beyond the "Choose Your Own Adventures" format.
I explore the social context surrounding the production and experiencing of interactive narratives. I also investigate what is possible with today's technologies. I also write scripts, create storyboards, and investigate character design and animation techniques, strategies, and best practices.

My on-going research work on this topic is listed below:
1. Literature Review

A review of literature on Interactive Narratives and the sociocultural context surrounding their creation, distribution, and societal impact.