The Institute for Information Literacy at Purdue

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Student Partners for Information Research and Literacy (SPIRaL)

Undergraduate Research Program
Program Overview

SPIRaL trains a team of undergraduate researchers to investigate how information literacy can inform real-world solutions to contemporary information challenges, such as mis/disinformation. For the 2024-2025 academic year, SPIRaL will explore information challenges affecting the field of journalism. SPIRaL researchers will interview student journalists at Purdue and other universities about their perceptions of how information challenges, such as misinformation, affect the field of journalism and in their own journalistic practice. In SPIRaL, students are research partners who make decisions, build relationships with research mentors, and contribute to the success of future SPIRaL researchers.

How to Apply

To learn more about next year's research, please review the researcher position description and email Rachel Fundator at, with a 1-page description of your interest in the program and a current resume.

Required Qualifications
  • Undergraduate student with an expected graduation date of no sooner than May 2025
  • Interest in research and information challenges
  • Ability to dedicate 6-8 hours per week of quality time and effort to SPIRaL activities
  • Desire to work on a dynamic team and contribute through shared decision-making
  • Initiative to complete independent tasks on-time and communicate progress
  • Strong written and oral communication skills
  • While not a requirement, we find it helpful for students to be second or third-year students
Program Details
  • Academic-year undergraduate research program (August 19, 2024 - May 3, 2025)
  • 6-8 hour time commitment per week with required in-person research group meetings
  • Academic credit through enrollment in ILS 235 (2 credts in fall) and ILS 236 (1 credit in spring)
  • $1,000 annual stipend (paid in $500 installments per semester)
  • Guidance from research mentors in the Institute for Information Literacy at Purdue
  • Opportunities to attend talks, workshops, and trainings from other units at Purdue
  • Present or publish research findings
SPIRaL Scholars
Noelia Alvarez
Major: Artificial Intelligence
Margaret Collins
Majors: Political Science, Spanish
Nancy Dooley
Majors: Political Science, Law & Society
Abigail Finney
Majors: Computer Science, Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
Quinn Loughran
Majors: English Literature, Political Science
Grace Vavra
Majors: Psychology, Law & Society


This year’s research

In the 2023-24 academic year, SPIRaL will conduct original qualitative research to study how undergraduate students perceive the relationship between social media algorithms and the ways they are able to engage democratically in digital spaces. We seek to better understand various student perspectives on the role algorithmic media and algorithmic platforms may play in shaping their civic attitudes, behaviors, and lives. This research may help identify new approaches for Libraries faculty to partner with students on algorithmic literacy efforts that reflect the digital experiences of college students and that aim to empower society to engage and participate democratically in today’s information environment.

Five undergraduate students will join research mentors from the Institute for Information Literacy at Purdue to conduct this research. As partners, we will

  • explore literature from across disciplines to learn more about the role information literacy can play in strengthening democratic participation and emerging efforts to improve algorithmic literacy to prepare society for today’s algorithmically mediated and organized information environment.
  • apply qualitative research methods, including in-depth interviews and thematic analysis,
  • determine avenues for sharing the outcomes and insights from our research with different audiences through posters, presentations, interactive workshops, and more.


Learn more about our research and how to apply

For any questions, please email Rachel Fundator.

Reasons to Join SPIRaL
Become part of a research community
Seek solutions to real-world challenges
Hone your research skills
Share your research with others