Tiger's Eye: Perspectives on Research at TAS

By Ina C. '25, Spring 2023 Communications Intern and Brooke Burns, Communications Manager

Welcome to Tiger's Eye, a cross-divisional, interdisciplinary highlight into the research going on at TAS. Asking questions and using a systematic process of inquiry and discovery to arrive at the answer isn't just something you do in the lab or the library (although, we've got plenty of that, too!) Follow along to learn how TAS researchers of all ages and in all areas learn more about the world around them and share their findings with the community. 

This week, we're bringing you two research projects that our students in AP Research are working on throughout the year: Students' Perceptions of Capital Punishment at High Schools in Taipei, Taiwan by Sophie W. ‘24 and The Impact of Taiwanese Aboriginal Organizations on Aboriginal Culture by Lawarence S. ‘24.  

This class focuses on the essential research skills that students will need at university and teaches them how to narrow down a broad area of interest into a well-defined question that can be studied and shared. From learning how to develop and apply their methodology, analyze their collected data, and present their results, the class provides a structured environment for this process from start to finish. 

Sophie, tell us more about your research project. 

“My project intends to examine students' perceptions of capital punishment at high schools in Taipei, Taiwan. I am using descriptive analysis and correlational research to understand how an individual's culture and environment can influence their beliefs.” 

Why did you choose to focus on Taiwan? 

“After reading multiple studies, I found that despite the Taiwanese government's intention to comply with international human rights organizations, death penalty remains legal in our country. When compared to China, Taiwan enjoys a reputation for being more progressive on human rights issues, yet there is a glaring lack of political will to abolish the death penalty. Human rights groups have conducted studies and issued publications criticizing the flaws in Taiwan’s criminal justice system such as unjust proceedings and an increasing recidivism rate that is not adequately addressed.” 

What was one of the challenges you encountered when preparing your research project on such a complex issue? 

“Formulating my methodology was definitely one of the most challenging parts of the research project. In attempts to make data collection more efficient, I leaned towards around 3 to 4 methodologies before settling on a final one.” 

In thinking about your project, what is the final goal of your research? 

“Although studies have acknowledged that public opinion of the death penalty plays a large role in the effectiveness of reforms, there has been little to no research done on the direct reasons behind why such perceptions are held. I hope that this study can fill this gap in research and provide people with different perspectives to comprehend one another's viewpoints better.”

Lawrence is another Junior taking AP Research. His project is also centered on issues in Taiwan. Let’s hear more about it from him!

Lawrence, what motivated you to take AP Research? 

“I am currently taking AP Research because I wanted to enhance my research and writing skills. I got to know the course through AP Seminar, and I believe AP Research is a rigorous course that prepares you for future classes in college, so I decided to challenge myself through enrolling in AP Research.” 

Please tell us more about your project!  

“I chose to conduct narrative research on two demographics of Indigenous people in hope to provide a voice for Indigenous communities in Taiwan. Through the research process, I am trying to learn more about the Indigenous culture, and what impact organizations and forms like the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village have on marginalized communities, specifically Indigenous groups in Taiwan. 

What inspired you to start this project? 

“My study aims to explore how tourism and commoditization in culture centers can affect Taiwan's Indigenous groups to speak out and pass on their own culture. I also wanted to find out if those influences can perpetuate and inflict harmful stereotypes, thereby causing damage to Indigenous culture and traditions. I am interested in this topic because I have always paid attention to Taiwan's Indigenous groups and related social issues, especially the controversy over the commoditization of Indigenous culture.” 

While working on this project and designing your research, did you encounter any challenges? How did you overcome them?  

“An example of something that challenged me was reaching out to participants for my narrative research. Since I did not have connections with the Indigenous groups in Taiwan, I had to reach out to my advisor to find participants. Moreover, I had a hard time finding sources for my literature review, but after some meetings with the librarians and my advisor, I was able to come across multiple sources.” 

As the semester wraps up, what are you looking forward to in the final months of AP research? 

“I am looking forward to conducting my interviews and listening to what they have to say about their culture. Also, performing an interview is a new thing for me, so I am excited to see how it would go. I am also looking forward to visiting the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village sometime soon."

We would like thank Sophie and Lawrence for sharing their AP research projects and the valuable lessons they have learned throughout the process. We would also like to invite everyone to join us for the upcoming AP Research showcase during FLEX in the USIC on Thursday, April 27, where you can learn more about the other outstanding research projects from our students. So mark your calendars and don't miss out on this exciting event! Stay tuned for more Tiger's Eye articles in the future. We have many more research projects, and we can't wait to share them with you!