Seven students receive top award from Kentucky Political Science Association

Posted by Centre News in News, Research 23 Mar 2015

03202015_untitled_35480Seven Centre College students recently received top recognition for exceptional research in the political sciences.

Two groups in Prof. Benjamin Knoll’s politics class “Parties, Campaigns and Elections” won the Abdul H. Rifai Award for the best paper presented by an undergraduate student from the 2015 Kentucky Political Science Association (KPSA) conference.

“We did a semester-long collaborative undergraduate research project,” Knoll said. “Students were in groups of three to four, and each group was in charge of answering the same question: ‘What accounts for the high level of ticket-splitting in Kentucky compared to other states?’

“Kentucky has a high rate of people voting Republican for president, senate and congress, but voting Democrat for governor, state legislature and at the local level,” he continued.

Knoll and other faculty and students interested in politics attended a KPSA panel last year that focused on Kentucky politics. During the panel, he asked the experts why they thought there was more ticket-splitting in Kentucky than in other states.

“Some of them had ideas, but no one had a solid, comprehensive explanation,” Knoll said. “It occurred to me that this would be an excellent topic for an undergraduate research project for students in my fall class.”

Each student group tackled Knoll’s question using different research tools, including statistical analysis, historical patterns or interviews.

While the answers the teams produced varied and didn’t provide an overall conclusive explanation, Knoll said the answers and the research process was still very valuable.

“It helped us all better learn how knowledge is created and how the same question can have different answers depending on how the question was approached,” Knoll said.

The two groups that received KPSA awards were:

• Matt Hart ’16, Kathleen Kennedy ’18 and Bryan Repishti ’16.

• Chase Deppen ’16, Matthew Gilbert ’16, Ryan McDonald ’15 and Kelli South ’16.

by Anne Evans

Pictured (l to r): Ryan McDonald, Bryan Repishti, Kathleen Kennedy and Matt Hart.
Not pictured: Chase Deppen, Matthew Gilbert and Kelli South.

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