Undergraduate Research

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STUDENT PROFILE

Julia Caswell

Headshot of researcher Julia Caswell
Major:
Visual Art Studies
Graduation Year:
Spring 2017
“Research can be a form of play.”

Julia’s undergraduate research has incorporated her creative interests into a museum-based audio walk.

Learn more about Julia’s work with her video submission and presentation for the 2016 Texas Student Research Showdown.

Faculty Supervisors: Dr. Christina Bain, Dr. Heidi Powell, and John Stoney, Art and Art History

Briefly describe your research project.
I designed, implemented, and studied an audio walk as educational programing in a museum setting. Audio walks can be a combination of sound from the actual surroundings overlaid with sounds from past experiences, soundtracks, musical instruments, narrative, and more. The design of an audio walk is meant to be easy to use and encourage engagement, creative thinking, and play. I have presented my research as a new strategy for digital engagement for museums.
 
Describe the tasks you engage in as part of your work.
I engaged in a collaborative research project. The Children’s Museum of the Arts in New York was generous in their openness to new strategies of engagement, meeting with me about the project and offering endless amounts of knowledge, all while I was researching and creating the project as something useful to the museum’s stakeholders and patrons. I used an action research model of qualitative data, using surveys and a Likert scale to collect information.
 
Describe what you thought college might be like before you came to UT. Did you consider research when thinking about college?
I definitely did not consider research. My art, interests, and mentors have all contributed to my taking up research. Allison Clark, an Art Education graduate student, and I were involved in a collaborative mentorship program called Intellectual Entrepreneurship Pre-Graduate School Mentorship, and through this unique experience I learned of research and crafted the project I am doing today.
 
How did you get involved with your research project?
I looked at apps such as Facebook, Snapchat, and Spotify, and asked myself why they were so engaging. The emphasis of this growing technology is personalized experience. Studies have also found that personalized experience has guided this decade’s teaching strategies and engagement experiences. I have combined my interest in contemporary engagement with my own art practice that draws from everyday life experiences, such as sounds.

Do you see your project connecting with your plans for your future?
I have future plans to continue making and experimenting with these ideas. The field of audio is an evolving and inclusive field. People are using virtual realities and museums are experimenting with it already. This necessary and innovative process can be used in a variety of spaces and I encourage others to try out creating an audio walk for their community.

What is the most interesting or surprising thing you’ve gotten to do for this project?
I have enjoyed finding connections between my research and that in dissimilar fields. This topic brings many fields together and fosters understanding.
 
What advice would you give to a student who was thinking about research?
The advice I would give to a student interested in research is to find what interests you; it would be impossible to do this research for anyone other than myself. Not that I did it all by myself — collaborate with as many people as possible! The work doesn’t have to be a high-stakes, nail-biting professional challenge. Research can be a form of play. 

Research Week showcases the exciting work of undergraduates across campus and highlights opportunities for students interested in getting involved. Co-sponsored by the Senate of College Councils and the School of Undergraduate Studies, Research Week takes place in the middle of April each year. Take a look at the online schedule of events to find out more about Research Week events.