NSF REU at K-State: Interactions of Matter, Light and Learning
The K-State REU program offers summer fellowships to do world-class research in our friendly physics department in the scenic Flinthills. We are funded by the National Science Foundation.
Physics Education Research (PER)
Dr. Eleanor Sayre: Student understanding of electromagnetic fields in materials
This study investigates how undergraduate students think about the effects of an external electric field or magnetic field on atoms in a material. We have already collected -- but not analyzed -- some preliminary data from students in an upper-level EM course. Your job will be to make sense of that data: what are students thinking? what patterns of thought do they have? how can we tell? You'll also interview other undergraduates to build a more complete picture of their mental models of atoms in fields. You'll also earn authorship in a paper (depending on your results). This is a great project to join if you are curious about how students connect physics ideas and mathematics ideas in upper-division classes. If you have already taken EM, that will help you in this project.
Dr. Eleanor Sayre:Physics Problem Solving
This study investigates how upper-division EM students think about solving problems. We collected videos of students solving homework problems in an upper-division EM course. We have already investigated whether the problem solving videos helped students learn (they do!), but we don't know what about making the videos was most helpful. In this project, you will delve into the videos looking for how students build arguments and use mathematics to reason about physics. Because this project is in the early stages, you will have a lot of freedom to figure out what's important and how we can tell. This is a great project to join if you want to learn how to do qualitative, video-based research. You must have taken EM to join this project.
Dr. Eleanor Sayre: Social network analysis of co-authorship in PER
Social network analysis discovers how people or ideas are connected, how their connections change over time, and how their connections are affected by geographic location, gender, age, or other factors. In this project, we study the inception and growth of the research field by looking at how people within the field collaborate. We collected co-authorship data from the top three journals in PER. Initial results suggest that the PER community started coming together in 2006 and has been growing more intertwined ever since. You will augment our existing data with PER genealogy and info from other journals so that we can look for causal factors. Together with our collaborators at Carnegie Mellon, we will calculate network statistics to determine how the "shape" of the field has changed over time, and how people's connections depend on who they are and what they do. Your work will earn authorship in a paper (journal depends on your results). This is a great project if you're curious about computational models or network analysis. You should have some programming background (doesn't matter what language) to do well in this project.
Dr. Eleanor Sayre: IMPRESS lab experiences
The IMPRESS project is an intensive two-week summer experience for incoming first-year university students who are Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing or the first generation in their families to go to college. IMPRESS students spend 6-8 hours every day building models of climate change and learning metacognitive skills to improve their persistence in science and engineering. The IMPRESS Education Research Squad (IMPRESSERS) collects and analyzes video of IMPRESS students. If you join IMPRESSERS, you'll investigate how students' ideas about the nature of science change as they go through the IMPRESS summer experience, and how their ideas depend on their metacognitive skills and their interactions with their group mates. This is a great project to join if you're concerned about equity/fairness, social issues, or student identity. You don't need any special background to join this project.