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Featured Student Research

RDC Student ResearchStudents at Red Deer College engage in applied research and practical learning across our programs. These types of projects are interesting, hands-on and relevant to what students will see in the real world. 

By collaborating with faculty and community partners, students elevate their research and communication skills. By  studying relevant topics of interest to them, students gain applied knowledge that they can transfer to their future goals. 

Depending on the course or program, students may engage in learning with their classmates through community-based or capstone projects, or they may undertake an independent research project with the support of a supervising instructor. 

researchscholarshipoffice [at] rdc [dot] ab [dot] ca (Contact us) if you are a student who is interested in learning more about research at RDC or if you have a project idea. 

Want to see examples of student research? See the featured projects and classes with research opportunities listed below or visit the RDC Digital Repository, which showcases scholarly, research and creative works undertaken by RDC students, faculty and staff. All students, whether current RDC students or high school students, are welcome to attend research-related events to speak with faculty and staff and learn more. 


Featured Student Projects

Agora Student Conference and Journal
The Agora Undergraduate Conference showcases student work completed in Humanities and Social Sciences, Social Work, and Justice Studies classes, bringing together RDC's diverse community in celebration of student excellence. Students have the opportunity to share the results of their coursework with a public audience. The 17th Annual Conference took place virtually March 19-20, 2021.

The Agora Journal, inaugurated over a decade ago by Heather Marcovitch, PhD (English), publishes outstanding work presented at the Agora Conference. Through the journal, student editors, under faculty supervision, receive applied instruction and experience in building professional relationships with authors, fact-checking, and copyediting. Over the course of the spring and summer months, editors work diligently alongside their conference authors to prepare student papers for publication. The Agora Journal also publishes a sister journal that showcases the work of students who are recipients of RDC's Student Writer Awards. This includes awards for Research Papers, Analytical Papers, and Creative Work, all of which have been adjudicated by a team of RDC faculty. Both of these journals are traditionally printed in beautiful hard copies with original cover art designed by RDC student artists. 

Given the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Agora Journal committee has opted to move these publications online. You can find both the Agora Conference Proceedings and the Student Writer Awards papers in RDC's new digital repository.


The Effectiveness and Accessibility of Social Programs for Women Experiencing Domestic Violence in Smaller City Environments (Sociology Honours Thesis Project)

Student researcher: Avery Warner

Faculty supervisor: Jones Adjei, PhD

The purpose of this study is to identify whether the existing social programs for women experiencing domestic violence are effective and accessible within a smaller city context. It also seeks to assess the struggles of service providers who work with these women. Participants will speak about their experiences working with women experiencing domestic violence and how their organization approaches these types of situations. Participants will also be asked to speak about the type of awareness that they themselves and their organization do about domestic violence as well as whether they are able to see an impact based on these efforts.


National Identity in Alberta: Similarity, Difference, and Regional Tensions Among Canadians (Sociology Honours Thesis Project)

Student researcher: Sarah Orcutt

Faculty supervisor: Jones Adjei, PhD

The purpose of this study is to explore Albertans’ national, provincial, and regional identities. Participants of this study will be asked to discuss their feelings of belonging and identification to and with the nation, province, and region (Western Canada) in which they live. Participants will also be asked what individuals in each of these territorial categories have in common and/or what might differentiate Albertans from Canadians or Western Canadians from Albertans concerning the content of these identifications. The data obtained from this study will be analysed for important and shared themes among participants and will contribute to existing but limited scholarship concerning Albertans’ identities.


Equine-Assisted Therapy to Reduce Young Offender Recidivism: Can Introducing Indigenous Approaches Increase This Method's Effectiveness? (Sociology Honours Thesis Project)

Student researcher: Shelley St. Germaine

Faculty supervisor: Krista Robson, PhD

 This research project uses an in-depth review of several types of literature to identify the factors that reduce young offenders' recidivism rates. Attention will be placed on locating programs that build upon physical, social life and communication skills, personal growth in behavioral and emotional responses, and the adaptive healing of the young offenders and their spirits.

 There appear to be many valuable elements that Indigenous approaches can teach us, which may add to an equine-assisted therapy program's effectiveness: such as healing the young offenders as a whole person rather than as simple pieces. Therefore, the project will also look at the possible alignment of equine-assisted therapy with Indigenous approaches to rehabilitation.  

A psychologist/EAT facilitator and persons working in the correction system and within local Indigenous communities will be consulted and their assistance with interpreting the scoping review will be sought.


Patient Experience with Virtual Healthcare: A Secondary Data Analysis and Survey Development (Psychology Independent Study Project)

Student researcher: Kassandra Burk

Faculty supervisor: Reiko Yeap, PhD

Virtual care is the way in which patients interact remotely with healthcare professionals. To understand patients’ experiences and perceptions of virtual and in-person care, this two-part study involves secondary data analysis of the COVID-19 Impact Survey conducted by the Health Quality Council of Alberta (HQCA) and the development of a survey to explore the perceptions and attitudes toward virtual care of patients within the Red Deer and Grand Prairie Primary Care Network.


Positive Aging and Resilience in the Context of Covid-19 (Psychology Independent Study Project)

Student researcher: Chloe Hoppus

Faculty supervisor: Greg Wells, PhD

The purpose of this study is to explore the challenges faced by older individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic. This will include the coping strategies individuals have implemented to cope with these challenges, as well as the effectiveness of the coping strategies used. The objective of this study is to gain insight into positive-coping and resiliency in older adults, particularly in how they help individuals find a sense of meaning and positive growth in the face of adversity.


The Effects of the COVID-19 Global Pandemic on Coping and Well-Being (Psychology Independent Study Project)

Student researcher: Kiara Walter

Faculty supervisor: Anomi Bearden, PhD

The intent of this study is to explore the effects of the social isolation felt during the Covid-19 pandemic on an individual’s ability to cope and their well-being. Participants are invited to complete an online survey designed to measure loneliness, coping, depression, anxiety, and stress, as well as some demographic questions.


Early Prisoner Release Due to COVID-19: What are People’s Opinions, and Can Those Opinions be Changed? (Psychology Independent Study Project)

Student researcher: Kindra Duthie-Woodford

Faculty supervisor: Stephen Brown, PhD

This research aims to examine Canadian's opinions regarding the early release of prisoners due to the COVID-19 pandemic and whether these opinions can be changed via educational intervention. We seek to examine whether these opinions are positive or negative and the sources by which individuals are receiving information on this issue. Additionally, we inspect whether victimization has an influence on these opinions.


A Survey of Microbial Communities Associated with Common Objects on Red Deer College Campus 

Student researchers: Lucy Byron & Sara Sylvestre 

Faculty supervisor: Cyrus Taheri, PhD 

The diversity of culturable microbial communities associated with common objects on Red Deer College campus were analyzed using plate culture on CHROMagar Orientation medium. Seven replicates of ten different objects were swabbed. Operational taxonomic units (OTUs) were constructed based on colony morphology. Over 30,000 colonies were isolated belonging to 64 different OTUs. The relative abundance of OTUs associated with different objects was compared using different statistical analysis tools such as Multi-Response Permutation Procedure (MRPP). 


The Effects of Ginger, Honey, Garlic and Cinnamon Extracts on Microbial Growth  

Student researchers: Jessie Thompson & Amy Jin 

Faculty supervisor: Cyrus Taheri, PhD 

The goal of this research was to study the antimicrobial effects of natural food extracts including ginger, honey, garlic and cinnamon on Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Spread plates of three microbial species on TSA were prepared under aseptic conditions. Food extracts and sterile distilled water (control) were added to 5 mm paper discs placed on agar medium. Plates were incubated at 37 °C and the inhibition zones were measured after 48 h. Garlic showed antimicrobial effect on E. coli and S. aureus but not on S. cerevisiae. Honey and cinnamon showed no antimicrobial effect.  Further research is warranted to better understanding the effects of garlic’s active ingredients on gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria at cellular level. 


Classes with Research Opportunities

BIOL 399 - Biology Research Opportunity Program 

This course provides students with the opportunity to work on research projects under the supervision of Biology faculty members. For example, for the last several years instructors Ryan Butler, Sandra MacDougall, and Sally Stuart have been working with students on a project involving collecting hairs from different bears at the Innisfail Discovery Wildlife Park, sorting them and analyzing them for levels of cortisol. The levels of cortisol are an indirect measurement of stress and, since cortisol can accumulate in the hair, it gives researchers information about long term stress levels in these animals. The project has recently expanded to measure the cortisol levels in the hairs of RDC students as an indirect measurement of stress levels of students at different times in the academic year. 


EDPS 445 – Issues in Middle Years Education  

The purpose of this course is to help students critically examine and develop an understanding of a variety of issues and policies affecting Middle Years education. Students conduct research as a way for them to go deeper with their learning, specifically in an area of contemporary topics that has implications for teachers and students.   

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