GPER Mini-Grant Awards
Catherine H. Crouch, GPER Member-at-Large and 2018 Grants Chair
The GPER Committee is pleased to announce the three proposals that were awarded mini-grant funding for the 2019 funding cycle. Successful proposals showed significant potential in at least one of the following areas:
- advancing and diffusing knowledge concerning the learning and teaching of physics;
- increasing the profile of PER in APS;
- increasing membership in GPER.
Requests for mini-grants are considered on annual basis and are normally due the first Friday of October. The full solicitation includes descriptions of the four strands of the competition: travel grants to individuals to attend APS conferences, grants to APS conference session organizers, grants to non-APS conference organizers supporting travel, and infrastructure. For travel grants, supporting junior or isolated members of the community is prioritized.
The Executive Committee thanks the (anonymous) committee of GPER members who evaluated the proposals and made recommendations to the Executive Committee for approval.
Summaries of the funded proposals are provided below.
Presenting student outcomes from Michigan State University’s recently transformed Design, Analysis, Tools, and Apprenticeship (DATA) Laboratory
Proposer: Rachel Henderson
Amount Awarded: $500
Summary: In response to the national call from the Physics Education Research (PER) community to focus on student engagement within the physics laboratory context, the Michigan State University physics department has recently transformed its algebra-based, introductory physics laboratory curriculum. This newly transformed course, Design, Analysis, Tools, and Apprenticeship (DATA) Lab, emphasizes the development of experimental skills and laboratory practices and provides students with an authentic physics laboratory experience. Students in DATA Lab engage in the exploration of physical systems to increase their understanding of data analysis, model development, measurement uncertainty, and scientific communication. In this presentation to the attendees of the 2019 APS April meeting, we will discuss the differences in student outcomes, specifically how students perceive experimental physics, between the context of the traditional laboratory course and the newly developed DATA Laboratory.
Engaging students in authentic experimentation during lab courses: Registration support for an invited speaker
Proposer: Dimitri Dounas-Frazer
Amount Awarded: $300
Summary: In my capacity as Vice Chair of the AAPT Committee on Laboratories, I am organizing an invited session at the 2019 APS April Meeting. The session is called, “Engaging students in authentic experimentation during lab courses,” and it is co-sponsored by the APS Forum on Education and the AAPT Committee on Laboratories. Speakers will address the challenge and promise of project-based learning in lab courses, an important aspect of many undergraduate physics programs. In particular, Dr. Laura Ríos, a physics education researcher, will present about her work on a multi-institutional investigation of lab instructors’ teaching practices during final projects in upper-division labs. Dr. Ríos is an early career scholar with limited access to travel funds. This proposal seeks $300 to defray conference registration costs for Dr. Ríos.
Reduced graduate student registration for FFPER Conference
Proposers: Rachel Scherr, Paula Heron, and Michael Wittmann
Amount Awarded: $1700
Summary: The Foundations and Frontiers of Physics Education Research (FFPER) conference held biannually in Bar Harbor, Maine is a primary venue for defining the state of physics education research. Plenary speakers are luminaries from PER and related intellectual communities. Attendees are first-rate physics education researchers who use the time to identify research directions and build collaborations. The format of the meeting balances formal presentations, small working groups, and unstructured time to maximize networking and productive discussion. Senior graduate students who are active in research are key participants in FFPER: they bring fresh ideas, practices, and challenges to the conference, make connections with senior researchers, and take new information, relationships, and perspectives back to their home institutions. This award provides funding to substantially reduce the cost of graduate student registration to FFPER. In order to take advantage of reduced registration, graduate students will be required to be members of APS and GPER.