Lissette Almonte

Lissette Almonte

Project title: Analyzing Makerspace Video Advertisements and Their Capacity Increase Race and Gender Diversity

Project description: Makerspaces are not usually advertised in a manner that is appealing to all. In various traditional makerspace video advertisments, those who play leading roles are Caucasian, Indian and Indian and/or Asian men; hence, giving out the perception that makerspace are often welcoming to those who fit that racial/gender category. In this study, we will analyze different makerspace videos and view how they are advertised. We will examine the characteristics of makerspace video advertisements that appeal to minority groups; hence, increasing gender and race diversity. Overall, we will review different makerspace video advertisements and outline the characteristics of those who successfully bring diverse groups into makerspaces.

Blog:

July 28

I still can't believe that the REU is over. It seems as if it was yesterday I moved into Belk to begin my research over the summer. As for the challenges that I have faced in the REU, I encountered many of them. One of the biggest lessons that I learned from the REU was how to cope with unexpected issues.

I would like to end this blog by stating that if you are fortunate enough to be part of the computer science REU at UNC Charlotte, take advantage of your time here. Go explore Charlotte, get to know your advisors and most importantly, make new friends. I can honestly say that I have created a big bond with all the participants of this year's REU. 

I will be forever grateful for the experience I obtained in the REU. 

July 21

This week I continued the work that I have been doing since last week. I contacted many people and  I have analyzed the makerspace videos that I have collected. So far, I have recieved 8 responses. I am hoping that by tomorrow I will get two more responses in order to achieve my goal. Although I only received 8 out of the 50 responses, I am glad that some people are willing to help me with my research. I am very proud of the work I am doing here in the REU because those who responded have given me positive feedback and have asked me to share aggregated results and future publications. I am happy that people around the United States are curious about my research and are asking for more information about it. 

In addition to working on my project, I have also started writing my extended abstract which is due this Monday. I hope that I will be able to finish it today in order to give my advisor some time to look at it and give me suggestions before the deadline. 
 
As I finish this week, I still cannot believe that this is my 2nd to last blog. I feel that the REU went by super fast! I am grateful for all the things I have learned at my time here in UNC Charlotte. My favorite thing that I have done this summer was meeting new people and exploring the Charlotte. Everything is so beautiful here and the people here are very friendly. The hardest thing that I have done this summer is completing the IRB for my research project. The application itself was so strenuous that it took me a couple of days to complete. 

July 14

This week has been a busy week for me. Earlier this week, I had to make some corrections for my IRB. They wanted more information about my research project before they can approve it. Fortunately, once I submitted the corrections, my IRB application got approved two days after I made the corrections since my research project fell under an exemption category. 

After I had my IRB sorted out, I focused the majority of my week organizing and categorizing makerspace videos. I also began to gather the contact information of those who made makerspace videos. Instead of using a website where I can categorize and organize everything easily, I decided to create an excel sheet because I did not want to risk getting all of my data deleted once again. In total, I will contact 50 individuals who have created makerspace videos. 
I am hoping that I will get at least 10 responses. 

July 7

As I stated in my previous blogs, I will be conducting a study on makerspace video advertisments. My overall goal with this study is to outline the characteristics of makerspace video advertisements that successfully bring minorities such as women and people of color into makerspaces. As I mentioned before, last week, I found n= 60 makerspace videos. However, since all of them got deleted, I had to spend most of this week finding and categorizing the videos that I originally had. 

In addition to finding all the makerspace videos, I also had to submit my IRB this week. It was a long process since the IRB asked for consent forms, survey questions and other documents. Although the IRB was a lot of work, I am glad that I pushed through. It only took me two days to complete the IRB. Now I have to wait until I get a response from them in order to officially begin my research. I am planning to use this weekend to read academic articles that can further develop my research. 
In regards to my second project: the CS1 and CS2 sketchbook project. We have still not heard back from the IRB. Unfortunately, I do not think this project will be done before the symposium since we still have not gotten our IRB approved. Considering everything that has happened during my time here in the REU, I am thinking that I will drop the sketchbook project and focus solely on my makerspace project since it is more concrete. 
I look forward to see the end results of my makerspace video project. 

June 30

Week five of the REU did not go as I expected. In the beginning of the week, I set daily goals in order to efficiently use my time all throughout the week. However, not everything went as I planned. As I mentioned previously, I submitted the IRB for my sketchbook project a week ago. Although I completed the IRB to the best of my ability, I made a mistake and therefore, the IRB sent an email asking for more information before they can approve it. As a result, I was set back a day and I was not able to stick to my schedule. 

For my makerspace inclusivity project, it took me a long time to categorize many videos. Towards the end of this week, I had 60+ videos all categorized and organized to specific dimensions. Unfortunately, when I went back to add more videos, I noticed that all my work got deleted. Now I have to start from scratch. Overall, the biggest mistake that I made is not having a back up plan. I wish I categorized my videos somewhere else just in case it got deleted. 
 
Despite my mistakes, I have learned that in research not everything goes the way you want to. I learned how to deal with unprecedented in an effective manner. 

June 23

This week has been a busy week for me. For my makerspace inclusivity project, I decided to base my research on the effects of advertising. My overall research question for my makerspace inclusivity project is:

How to use advertising to brand the makerspace as an appealing location for women and other minorities?

I specifically decided to direct my research on advertising because most of the students who go to the makerspace first heard of the makerspace through an advertisement they saw in the university. To begin my makerspace inclusivity research project, I've been looking on how other places around the world promote their makerspaces. The second part of my research is to contact the individuals whom have created makerspace advertisements and ask them open ended questions in order to see if their advertisements have increased the number of people who go to the makerspace. Part three of my research is to analyze all the collected data and actually create a makerspace advertisement specifically geared towards UNC Charlotte students and see if it has an effect on the number of people (more, specifically women) who go to the makerspace regularly.

For my sketchbook project, I have submitted the IRB. Currently, I am waiting for the IRB to be approved in order to further continue my research on the effect sketchbooks have on students' grades.

Overall, I have obtained a better sense of what exactly I will be conducting my research in. I'm excited to see where my research will lead to.

June 16

As I complete my third week in the REU, I have faced some challenges along the way. My main challenge is to learn how to outline my research projects in order to finish them before the symposium. As I mentioned in my previous blogs, I am involved in two different research projects. Thus, both projects require different things to be completed which can make it a little difficult for me to finish on time. For example, for my C1 and CS2 sketchbook project, I had to complete an IRB in a timely manner. Since the IRB is such a long application, I found it as a challenge. For my makerspace project, one of my main challenges is to find resources that would target the topic of inclusivity in the makerspace. Despite the challenges I am facing/ will face, I am determined to try my best in both of my research topics.

June 9

In my second week of the REU program, I officially began to work on my two research topics. I took Monday and Tuesday to scan sketch books in order to start analyzing them the upcoming week. Wednesday and Thursday, I took the time to work on the approach I wanted to take in my Makerspace research project. Meeting with Dr. Latulipe earlier in the week truly helped me get a better idea of what I wanted to do with my research. In our meeting, we created a to-do list of the things I had to complete for the week. This list really helped me outline my goals and allowed me to use my time in the lab more efficiently. Overall, I felt that this week has been very productive. I am very excited to see the final results of my research. 

June 2

As I complete my first week in UNC Charlotte’s REU: Socially Relevant Computing program, I have established goals that I wish to accomplish by the end of my summer research. However, first, I will like to explain the details of the type of research that I will be doing over the summer. This summer, I will conduct research on two different topics. The first has to do with increasing inclusion and diversity in the Makerspace. The second has to do with analyzing sketch books collected from computer science students from UNC Charlotte’s introductory computer science courses. I am very excited to conduct research on these two different topics. These are both topics that I have very little knowledge of and I hope that by the end of the summer I will be an expert on both of these topics.

Going back to my goals that I previously mentioned, I will like to learn about the steps it takes to conduct research in computing. Personally, I never had an opportunity to conduct research in my life thus, I am very excited to learn more about research. I hope the upcoming REU seminars will prepare me well enough to make my research talk and poster seem professional. Furthermore, as I spend my time in the REU program, I will like to become an expert in using LateX in order to use it in my future research papers.

Additionally, through the REU program I am also hoping to learn how to apply for graduate school. Since I am a first-generation student, I have very little knowledge of graduate school. Neither of my parents know what graduate school is and I have not considered graduate school until earlier this year. I am hoping that through this program I will broaden my knowledge of graduate school and its application process.

I will be forever grateful that I had been accepted to UNC Charlotte’s REU program. The program will definitely help me expand my knowledge in research. I see this program as a stepping stone to better my future and to be successful in my graduate studies.