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Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol

WVSU Students’ Work to be 
Featured at Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol

INSTITUTE, W.Va. –  West Virginia State University political science students Richard Anderson, Jordyn Reed, and Derek Taylor were selected to present their research at the Legislature.

The title of their group project is “Going Negative: Immigration Rhetoric in Congressional Hearings,” (Click Here for the Poster) and examines the increasingly negative political rhetoric regarding immigration hearings during the last decade.

“Throughout WVSU, faculty encourage students to expand their knowledge and then share their findings with others,” said WVSU President Brian O. Hemphill. “The exemplary research conducted by these outstanding Yellow Jacket students is an example of the varied and wide-ranging research conducted by WVSU faculty and students. I’m proud of such ongoing efforts to open minds to new ideas, discoveries and theories.”

C. Damien Arthur, Ph.D., an assistant professor of political science and the faculty advisor for this research, said "the students’ project developed from an upper-division political science course wherein students were exposed to the role of theory in research, forming hypotheses and research questions, identifying variables, and gathering and analyzing statistical data." Professor Arthur said "During this practical opportunity to apply basic research methods to a problem or question in the field of political science, the students executed a research project and produced a professional quality white-paper on the growing negativity in immigration discourse. The students designed and constructed a database of information that can be used in future political science research and each of the students completed an analytical paper on immigration; each of these papers are being developed further with the hopes of publishing them in a peer-reviewed journal."


During the last decade, the political rhetoric regarding immigration has increasingly become more negative (Arthur & Woods, 2013; Golash-Boza, 2009; Beasley, 2006; Segovia & Defever, 2010). In fact, there is research that suggests certain conditions can predict an increase in the negative presidential rhetoric regarding immigration (Arthur & Woods, 2013). Similarly, this study seeks to ascertain if the context surrounding congressional hearings can compel members of Congress and immigration experts to use and entertain negative immigration narratives. In building a comprehensive database on the discussion of immigration, we address the pertinent variables that shape immigration rhetoric. Coding remarks from every congressional hearing regarding immigration from the 103rd Congress (1993-1994) through the 113th Congress (2013-2014) allowed us to ascertain if external factors predict negativity. Moreover, this enabled us to map-out the trends in the tone of immigration rhetoric, which exemplified how congressional leadership on immigration has changed over time and across various controls. Such an analysis provides insight into the externalities and contexts that shape congressional leadership. Rather than determining if congressional attention to immigration is capable of effecting change in the policy narrative, as an entrepreneurial mechanism of power, we think that understanding the dynamic as a way for members to capitalize on the public mood provides a better assessment of congressional leadership and decision-making—which, in turn, offers a more enriching analysis of the immigration discussion.


The Undergraduate Research Day features 75 research posters from 15 colleges and universities from throughout West Virginia. The work will be on display in the Capitol Rotunda. Research to be showcased at the event was selected through a competitive process. You can find the conference program here (click here). 

Undergraduate Research Day is sponsored by the Higher Education Policy Commission Division of Science and Research and the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts. 


WVSU Students with Chairman of the
Board of Governors at WVSU, Mr. Tom Susman

WVSU Students Posing with their Poster
on Immigration Rhetoric in Congressional
Hearings (1993 - 2010)

WVSU Student Richard Anderson discusses
his research wi
th WV Secretary of Education
and the Arts, Kay Goodwin

WVSU Students, Faculty, and Dean
at the URDC

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