posted May 3, 2011

Sociology Project Wins Social Science Division Award

A collaborative faculty-student research project led by Dr. Pamela Koch of the Hope College sociology faculty has won the college's second annual "Social Sciences Young Investigators Award."

Koch, who is an assistant professor of sociology, and junior Matt Herm of Port Huron and senior Lindsey Rhodes of Palatine, Ill., received the recognition for their project "Parental Experiences and Religiosity in Young Adults: Does Parental Style Matter?"  Herm is a psychology and sociology dual major minoring in religion, and Rhodes is a sociology major, and both have been working on the project with Koch since the summer of 2010.

The "Social Sciences Young Investigators Award" is designed to recognize and encourage junior faculty to partner with students in research collaborations that further the scholarship goals of the faculty member while developing the skills of critical inquiry and analysis in his or her students.  It includes funding for the faculty and student team to present their work at a professional conference.

The competition is open to junior social science faculty who worked with students on a significant research project, with at least one of the students returning for the next academic year.  The selection is made from among the eligible social science projects highlighted during the college's annual Celebration of Undergraduate Research and Creative Performance, which was held on Friday, April 15, this year.

The study conducted by Koch, Herm and Rhodes considered the parenting goal of instilling religious commitment in children, a quality that other studies have illustrated to reduce destructive behavior in adolescents and young adults.  They used the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to determine which of four parenting styles - authoritative, authoritarian, permissive and uninvolved - leads to the most religiosity in young adulthood.  They found that adolescents who have parents who utilize an authoritative parenting style exhibit higher degrees of religiosity in young adulthood than adolescents whose parents utilize any other style. The project was supported by the college's CarlFrostCenter for Social Science Research.

Koch has been a member of the Hope faculty since 2008.  She graduated from South DakotaUniversity in 2000, and completed her M.P.A. at the University of Nebraska in 2003 and her Ph.D. at the University of South Carolina in 2008.