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Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Professorial Assistantships

A selected number of high-achieving incoming freshmen identified by the Honors College are invited to become Professorial Assistants (PAs). Funded by the Honors College, Professorial Assistants work with faculty members on research projects for approximately eight hours per week during the academic year for which they are paid a stipend.

Examples of Professorial Assistantship Projects available in the College of Education

  • Supporting Student Motivation and Engagment (Dr. Lisa Linnenbrink-Garica)
  • Michigan State University Early Learning Institute (Dr. Josh Planick)
  • Evaluating an Employment Related Social Skills Training Program for Transition-Age Youth with Autisum: The ASSET Program (Dr. Connie Sung)
  • Skills to Pay the Bills: Teachnology-Based Soft Skills and Vocational Intervention Program for Youth with Autism or Criminal Record (Dr. Connie Sung)
  • Implementing and Evaluating Training for Youth or Young Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (Dr. Connie Sung)
  • School-to-Work Transition for High School Students with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (Dr. Connie Sung)
  • Alignment in Reading Instructional Programs and Assessment Instruments (Dr. Sara Witmer)
  • Evaluating Sports-related Concussions in High School and Collegiate Athletics (Dr. Tracey Covassin)
  • Early Life Undernutrition Influences Cardiac Development (Dr. David Ferguson)
  • Control of Bimanual Coordination in Humans (Dr. Florian Kagerer)
  • Motor Learning and Development (Dr. Mei-Hua Lee)
  • Physical Activity and Academic Success (Dr. James Pivarnik)
  • Physical Activity and Pregnancy (Dr. James Pivarnik)
  • Educational Research - High School Physics (Dr. Alicia Alonzo)
  • Tools for Teaching Engineering for Sustainable Communities (Dr. Angela Calabrese Barton)
  • Eight Athletes Tweeting: Designing a Research-Based Social Media Mentoring Program for NCAA Division I Student-Athletes (Dr. Douglas Hartman)
  • Globalization, Education and Teaching (Dr. Lynn Paine)
  • The Politics of Education Reform (Dr. Rebecca Jacobsen)
  • Teaching and Learning of History (Dr. Maribel Santiago)
  • Studying How Beginning Elementary Teachers Notice and Respond to Students' Scientific Sense-Making (Dr. Christina Schwarz)
  • How Teachers Teach and Learn to Teach Science at the Preschool, Elementary and Middle School Levels (Dr. Christina Schwarz)
  • The Verses Project: Exploring Literacy through Lyrics and Song (Dr. Vaughn W. M. Watson)
  • Development and Implementation of a Family Psycho-Educational Intervention for Transition-Age Individuals with Autism and Other Neuro-Developmental Disabilities (Dr. Gloria Lee)
  • Development of a Curriculum of Emotional Regulation for Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (Dr. Gloria Lee)
  • Development of a Dynamic Vocabulary Assessment to Help Teachers Identify Kindergarten Students with Reading Comprehension Difficultues (Dr. Eunsoo Cho)
  • Engaging K-12 Students to Think Computationally (Dr. Aman Yadav)
  • Analysis of Elementary and Middle School Students' Written Composition (Dr. Adrea Truckenmiller)
  • UTEMPT: University Teaching Experience for Mathematics Prospective Teachers (Dr. Kristen Bieda)
  • Human Performance Factors of Developmental Racecar Drivers (Dr. Jennifer VanDerHeide)
  • ELMS: Engaging Learning Moments in Science (Dr. Barbara Schneider)

Undergraduate Research Assistants.

The Michigan State University Office of the Provost provides funds for faculty to employ a modest number of undergraduate students in conducting research each year. Faculty members submit proposals to the College of Education to receive the research funds and, once awarded, hire students on an hourly basis.

In addition, some faculty members with outside research funds independently employ undergraduates on their research teams and others accept student research assistants on a volunteer basis.

Presenting Student Research

Undergraduate students at Michigan State University who participate in research as PAs or research assistants often present their work at the University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF) held each spring. Some students present their work at state or national conferences, and others have been a co-author on published research papers.

See recent Undergraduate Research Presentations from UURAF

Learn more about Undergraduate Research at Michigan State University.

Contact Susan Dalebout for more information about undergraduate research opportunities in the College of Education.

Undergraduate Research 2017-2018

I-Engineering

Investigator: Dr. Angela Calabrese Barton (acb@msu.edu)

Project Description
This project focuses on designing teaching and learning tools in support of teaching engineering for sustainable communities. We use participatory design research methodologies in collaboration with school and community partners. Our work is located in middle schools in Michigan and North Carolina. Our goal is to develop materials that support youth in developing their knowledge and practice in engineering while also developing an empowering agency to use their STEM expertise to make a difference in their schools and communities. We study the impacts of our work through critical ethnography and case study.

Equity & Maker Spaces

Investigator: Dr. Angela Calabrese Barton (acb@msu.edu)

Project Description
We are studying equity-oriented making spaces with the goals of developing 1) Theory-based and data-driven framework for equitably consequential making and its impact on youth learning & development in STEM-making, 2) Individual-level and program-level cases with exemplars of equitably consequential making (and the associated challenges) that can be used by researchers and practitioners for guiding the field; and 3) Initial guiding principles with observable, practice-based indicators for identifying and/or working towards equitably consequential making in practice. Our project draws upon longitudinal critical ethnography and case study. We are partnering with four maker spaces in Michigan and North Carolina.

Elementary Teacher Preparation Project

Investigator: Dr. Corey Drake (cdrake@msu.edu)

Project Description
The Elementary Teacher Preparation Project (ETPP) seeks to understand how pre-service teacher preparation can best support graduates in enacting ambitious mathematics and literacy instructional practices as beginning elementary teachers. ETPP researchers are observing a sample of graduates of Michigan State University, University of Virginia, University of Connecticut, and two other teacher education programs who will be first- and second-year elementary school teachers from 2016 through 2019. We are following each beginning teacher from their teacher education program and into their first two years of teaching to identify the relationships between their teacher education course work and student teaching, the school context, and their instructional practices.

Early Life Undernutrition Programs Individuals to be Less Physically Active

Investigator: Dr. David Ferguson (fergu312@msu.edu)

Project Description
Individuals who are malnourished in early life, born premature or growth restricted engage in less daily physical activity as compared to individuals who were properly nourished in early life. This is concerning as daily physical activity has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, type II diabetes, hypertension, and some types of cancer. Thus, understanding the mechanisms by which early life nutrition influences physical activity level will lead to increasing overall health and wellness of individuals that were undernourished in early life. The student selected for this position will be trained in genetic and proteomic analysis and will analyze data from healthy and undernourished populations to determine how early life nutrition influences physical activity engagement.

A mixed-methods YPAR study examining students' transition experiences to a Predominantly White Institution (PWI)

Investigators: Drs. Terry Flennaugh & Vaughn W. M. Watson (flennaug@msu.edu; watsonv2@msu.edu)

Project Description
This project involves undergraduate researchers in the College of Education in an ongoing mixed-methods Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) study examining transition experiences of undergraduates of Color to a PWI. Current scholarship largely focuses on environmental and faculty support as contributing factors to matriculation (Howard & Reynolds, 2013). Participatory research approaches purposefully situate undergraduates of Color as co-researchers and active contributors across all stages of data-collection and analysis. The research teamÕs YPAR approach attends to how undergraduate co-researchers investigating transition experiences of students from marginalized communities to a PWI enact Solorzano and Delgado BernalÕs (2001) notion of Òtransformational resistanceÓ in Ònegotiat[ing] and struggl[ing] with structures and creat[ing] meanings of their own from these interactionsÓ (p. 315). Preliminary findings indicated undergraduate researchers took up analytic and question-posing stances, demonstrating what Mirra, Filipiak, and Garcia (2015) discuss as possibilities of youth co-researchers who ÒpivotÓ to engaging ongoing work of educational equity as Òparticipating on their ownÓ (p. 53). Undergraduate researchers, simultaneously taking up identities as students and educational researchers, furthermore demonstrated literacy activities as a negotiated questioning -- wherein students enacted participatory-research activities toward a stance-taking that Haddix and Price Dennis (2013) have observed as re-making Òthe preservice teacher education space [É] as instigator for preservice teachersÕ transformative ideologiesÓ (p. 257). This work seeks to build meanings of research approaches as teacher-education pedagogies and educational-research stances, thus Òmov[ing] toward transformative teacher practiceÓ (Haddix & Price-Dennis, 2013, p. 257). Undergraduate researchers undertaking participatory stances and contributory roles thus contribute to the urgent work of equity and justice across contexts of campus and youthÕs communities.

Friendship and Bullying Experiences of Middle School Youth with and without Autism Spectrum Disorders and Intellectual Disability

Investigator: Dr. Marisa Fisher (fishermh@msu.edu)

Project Description
The purpose of this study is to better understand the risk factors and consequences of bullying for middle school students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or intellectual disability (ID). The project will first include a systematic review of the bullying literature to identify all bullying self-report questionnaires that have been used with middle school students. Articles will be identified and coded for manuscript preparation. Second, all self-report bullying questionnaires will be entered into a database for experts to review for appropriate use with individuals with ASD or ID and to adapt for better comprehension. This will result in the development of a new self-report bullying questionnaire to be used with students with ASD or ID. Third, middle school students with ASD or ID will complete the new questionnaire along with a battery of assessments, including an interview about their bullying experiences. The interviews will be transcribed and coded for themes. All data will be entered into a database and analyzed to validate the newly developed bullying assessment.

Implementation of Motor Intervention during Infancy

Investigator: Dr. Janet Hauck (hauckja1@msu.edu)

Project Description
In order for successful translation of infant motor interventions to occur, a major priority is quantifying the ideal type, timing and dose of motor exposures needed to maximize growth, motor and cognitive outcomes during infancy. Despite robust pilot data demonstrating the impact of motor behavior in infancy on healthy growth and development, implementation of these therapies during infancy remain difficult. Infancy represents a demanding period for caregivers, with frequent unscripted challenges outside of routine expectations. For this reason, prioritizing activities outside of meeting an infantÕs basic life-sustaining needs is complicated. A caregiverÕs actions and respite is often dictated by infant temperament, ÒIs the baby happy?Ó To summarize this issue briefly, I want to journey back approximately 25 years. The ÒBack to SleepÓ program was newly promoted in response to the high rate of mysterious crib deaths or sudden infant death syndrome. Generations of infants prior to this initiative received ample doses of daily, wakeful tummy time. But in the wake of this program, caregiver fear precipitated infrequent use of this beneficial position, even when the infant is awake, making it more novel to the infant. As a result, infants became less tolerant prompting fussiness and caregiver reluctance to promote the position. Major consequences of reduced tummy time include a dramatic rise in the rate of plagiocephaly (flat head) and later acquisition of major motor milestones. This new phenome is a major clinical challenge. Surprisingly, clinical care providers have no evidence-based dosage guidelines to use in their prescription of tummy time. Without strong clinical promotion or dose specific recommendations, implementation of tummy time in the home is lacking. Along with our motor interventions (infant tummy time and treadmill training), this project seeks to understand implementation issues. These issues are being addressed with three main approaches. First, I am investigating factors related to implementation through process evaluation (logs, surveys and interviews). Second, I am capturing infants performing tummy time in their home-setting and using video analysis to determine intrinsic, familial, and environmental factors that serve to extend or prematurely terminate a bout of tummy time behavior. Third, I am determining the minimal threshold of motor therapy required to stimulate outcomes. Together, these data aim to prompt and support clinical translation of infant motor interventions.

The impact of involved limb quadriceps function on single leg movement quality after ACL reconstruction.

Investigator: Dr. Chris Kuenze (kuenzech@msu.edu)

Project Description
After surgery and extensive rehabilitation, many individuals with a history of ACLR continue to live with functional limitations that are associated with negative health consequences and an increased risk of re-injury. While it has been hypothesized that quadriceps dysfunction negatively impacts functional movement patterns, the specific kinematic variables that are affected as well as the magnitude of these effects remain largely unclear. Clinicians need to be able to easily and efficiently identify functional deficits linked to poor outcomes through movement patterns in order to guide effective treatment. Therefore, there is a critical need to understand the impact of persistent quadriceps dysfunction on functional movement in individuals after ACLR. The purpose of the proposed research is to compare involved limb lower extremity kinematics during a single leg step down and single leg landing between individuals with healthy quadriceps function and quadriceps dysfunction after ACLR. This research is relevant to athletic trainers because it helps them understand how commonly reported functional limitations are related to movement adaptations that are associated with negative health consequences such as increased risk of re-injury.

Educational Research Projects on Student Engagement in STEM fields

Investigators: Drs. Lisa Linnenbrink-Garcia, Cary Roseth & Jen Schmidt (llgarcia@msu.edu; croseth@msu.edu & jaschmid@msu.edu)

Project Description
Students will participate in multiple educational research projects on student motivation, engagement, and achievement in adolescent and young adult populations. The majority of our research explores personal and contextual factors that support or discourage student engagement, particularly in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. This research has taken various forms, including laboratory experiments and classroom-based survey studies. The purpose of the position is to provide undergraduate researchers with training and experience at the intersection among educational, developmental, and social psychology, particularly those concerned with STEM education. Undergraduate assistants will attend regular lab meetings and work closely with graduate students and a post-doctoral scholar to help with tasks such as data collection, data processing, and reviews of literature. Undergraduate assistants will also have opportunities to develop independent research projects, including participation in undergraduate research events (e.g., University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum) based on their own research ideas with their mentorsÕ guidance. Please visit http://llgarcia.educ.msu.edu/ for more information on our lab. Also, please feel free to contact a post-doctoral scholar in the lab, You-kyung Lee (leeyouky@msu.edu) if you have any questions.

Making Classroom Discussions Equitable

Investigators: Drs. Niral Shah & Beth Herbel-Eisenmann (niral@msu.edu & bhe@msu.edu)

Project Description
Implicit bias has been shown to produce racial and gender inequities across numerous facets of social life (e.g., policing, employment). In education, teachersÕ implicit biases can affect studentsÕ access to participation opportunities. This research project investigates how teachers utilize quantitative data on participation patterns and qualitative data on studentsÕ subjective perceptions of implicit bias. We will videotape classrooms, survey students, and interview teachers. Analysis will focus on how teachers use data to make their classroom discussions more equitable.

Be a Word Nerd!

Investigators: Dr. Laura Tortorelli (ltort@msu.edu)

Project Description
This project focuses on a crucial phase in any childÕs life -- learning to read. We are experiencing a Òreading crisisÓ in the state of Michigan now; more than half of our third grade students are struggling to read at grade level. Working cooperatively with a group of teachers in two ISDs in Michigan, we are studying how teachers teach children to learn and love new words -- to become word nerds! We will meet regularly with kindergarten through third grade teachers in to discuss their practices and collect classroom observation, survey data, and student assessment data from participating classrooms. As a researcher on this project, you will have an opportunity to participate in on-line focus groups with teachers, to write survey items and analyze responses, and to collect and score reading and writing assessment data from students, and to manage a database of 15 classrooms (about 180 students). This project provides a great opportunity to make a difference to Michigan teachers and students, to learn more about teaching as a profession, and to participate in school-based educational research project.

Writing Instructional Practices for Multidimensional Achievement and Growth in Students (Project WIPMAGS)

Investigator: Dr. Gary Troia (gtroia@msu.edu)

Project Description
This study examines how closely 4th- and 5th-grade studentsÕ yearly growth in writing knowledge, motivation, and performance (in narrative, persuasive, and informative writing) is related to teachersÕ classroom writing instruction and assessment practices, with a simultaneous examination of student, teacher, and classroom factors that may affect the relationship between teachersÕ practices and student outcomes.

Exploring Writing in Response to Text Using the Writing Architect

Investigator: Dr. Adrea Truckenmiller (atruck@msu.edu)

Project Description
Most (66%) elementary and secondary students struggle with learning to write; only half are prepared for college level writing; and many cannot meet the writing demands in their jobs. This level of achievement is not surprising given the complexity of written composition, a relative lack of research on writing achievement, the lack of prioritization for writing instruction in schools, and teachersÕ lack of preparation on the teachable components of writing. At MSU, Dr. Truckenmiller developed a tool that highlights studentsÕ strengths and weaknesses on the teachable and high impact components of writing. The current research project revolves around analyzing the data from students in grades 3 through 8 on multiple components of writing to determine which pieces are most beneficial for guiding their teachersÕ instruction. Dr. Truckenmiller is seeking research assistants to examine the data and answer research questions that may help elementary and secondary teachers teach writing. The undergraduate research assistant(s) will be responsible for scoring studentsÕ typing fluency, written compositional quality, written composition accuracy and fluency, use of planning strategies, and cohesion in writing. The undergraduate research assistant (URA) will also develop a research question based on the data they score. Opportunities may also be available for the URA to present results to schools that participated in the research project. Dr. Truckenmiller will provide mentorship and scaffolding to the URA so that they gain and apply research skills in: research ethics, conceptualizing a research question, choosing and conducting a statistical analysis, writing for a conference or journal audience, and presenting at the University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum. This experience with the research process will be a highly desirable experience in a graduate school application or to explore if research is a potential career path for the URA. Two previous URAs working with Dr. Truckenmiller were successfully admitted to Ph.D. programs in psychology following their research experience. Working on this type of research, previous URAs have been able to decide what field they would like to work in (speech language pathology, special education, regular education, school psychology, counseling, occupational therapy, early childhood, etc.) and to determine what type of career they wanted to pursue (researcher, practitioner, nonprofit institution). Finally, past undergraduate research assistants comment that they enjoyed reading elementary and middle school studentsÕ creative and sometimes humorous writing. Please email Dr. Truckenmiller (atruck@msu.edu) if you are interested in participating. Also email if you are just curious about the topic or even if you want research experience and you are agnostic about the topic.

The Utility of Empathy in Culturally Responsive Interactions with Young Black men and Boys

Investigator: Dr. Chezare A. Warren (chezare@msu.edu)

Project Description
Studying the role of empathy in student-teacher interactions is useful for interrogating and documenting the professional practices of effective educators of young Black men and boys. Effective teachers likely demonstrate evidence of culturally responsive pedagogy (CRP), which includes that their students are academically successful, culturally competent, and sociopolitically aware (Ladson-Billings, 1995). This project is an investigation of empathyÕs application to, and utility for, negotiating interactions with Black male students that produce evidence of CRP. The research project will include at least three and not more than six teachers selected based on the recommendations of students, school administration, and parents using a Òcommunity sampling approachÓ(Ladson-Billings, 1994). Data sources include: a) 3-5 one-on-one interviews with teacher participants; b) administration of the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (Davis, 1983) and the Scale of Teacher Empathy for African American Males (S-TEAAM) (Warren, 2015); c) at least 500 minutes of video-recorded classroom observations of each teacher participantsÕ interactions with young Black men and boys during classroom instruction; and d) national distribution of the S-TEAAM. This research will broaden the knowledge base about the utility of empathy to improve cross cultural and cross racial interactions with urban-dwelling youth of color.

Undergraduate Research 2016-2017

Understanding the sequential effects of class, race, and sex on educational trajectories and employment outcomes among STEM faculty members

Investigators: Drs. Brendan Cantwell (brendanc@msu.edu) and Dongbin Kim (dbkim@msu.edu)

Project Description
The aim of our study is to better understand the sequential effects of class, race, and sex on educational trajectories and employment outcomes among STEM faculty members. We focus on STEM because women and people of color are underrepresented in these fields and because policy makers have prioritized these fields as important for innovation, and social and economic wellbeing. This study will use federal data and data gathered from a sample of academic CVs to analyze the career trajectories of individuals who hold earned doctorate degrees and are employed as tenure-track faculty members at US four-year institutions. Results from this study results of such analyses may be used to sharpen theory on educational stratification and develop policy recommendations for promoting greater equity in academic science.

Screening and Early Intervention for Preschoolers at-risk for School Readiness

Investigator: Dr. John Carlson (carlsoj@msu.edu)

Project Description
Not Available

Examining the Effects and Recovery Time Following Sport-Related Concussion

Investigator: Dr. Tracey Covassin (covassin@msu.edu)

Project Description
Project 1: Concussion in sport has reached “epidemic” levels in the US with approximately 1.6 to 3.8 million sport-related concussions occurring each year. The main goal of this research is to examine the effects and recovery time following sport-related concussion in high school athletes. All participating athletes will complete preseason testing including ImPACT, VOMS, SCAT3, BESS and King-Devitt. Any concussed athlete in our study will be administered the same tests at various times throughout their recovery. This research will not only directly inform the clinical management of concussion, but will also document the recovery trajectories of concussed athletes. Project 2: BrainScope is developing a new generation of portable, simple-to-use, non-invasive instrument to detect sports-related concussion. This study is designed to collect data which will be used to correlate changes in EEG to sports concussion in high school and collegiate athletes. The study will include obtaining baseline measurements before the season begins in a subset of athletes. Injured athletes will be studied during the season within 72 hours of their time of injury, at Day 5, when the athlete returns to play, and then lastly, 45 days after the athlete returns to play. Matched controls will be tested following the same schedule as the injured athletes.

No new teacher left behind? Preservice educators’ experiences and motivations for teaching in a high-stakes era

Investigator: Dr. Alyssa Hadley Dunn ( ahdunn@msu.edu)

Project Description
This project will include surveys and interviews with high school and college students who want to be future urban teachers. In particular, the research will focus on why students educated amidst a high-stakes testing climate want to be teachers, what empowers them, and what impact they hope to make as new educators.

Learning and Development through Challenge in Youth Sport

Investigator: Dr. Karl Erickson (kte@msu.edu)

Project Description
This on-going research project seeks to understand the phenomenon of challenge in youth sport as a context for psychosocial learning and development. Why do some experiences of challenge in sport lead to personal growth and positive development, while others are more negative and can contribute to burnout and dropout? How can teachers and coaches design, contribute to, and structure experiences of challenge in sport that best facilitate personal growth, learning, and development? The current phase of the project (in its 2nd year) is a qualitative phenomenological examination of the experience of challenge across several levels of youth sport (from elementary school to university) through individual interviews with athletes and focus group interviews with coaches. Analysis will focus on understanding developmental differences in growth-enhancing vs. negative experiences of challenge in sport. Findings of the research project are anticipated to enhance knowledge and guide future research, offering recommendations for coaches as educators to facilitate positive learning and development via challenge experiences for their young athletes through their teaching practice.

Quadriceps muscle histology and morphology following ACL reconstruction

Investigators: Drs. David Ferguson (fergu312@msu.edu) and Christopher Kuenze ( fergu312@msu.edu)

Project Description
This is a collaborative effort between Dr. Ferguson and Dr. Kuenze in the Department of Kinesiology. Annually, more than 200,000 individuals suffer anterior cruciate ligament injuries resulting in more than 150,000 surgical reconstruction (ACLR) procedures. Despite completing a long course of rehabilitation with the goal of returning to physical activity, many individuals experience persistent lower extremity muscle dysfunction as compared to their healthy counterparts. This return to activity despite the presence of persistent functional deficits may have significant implications for re-injury, long term knee joint health as well as overall quality of life. Thus, there needs to be investigation into how the quadriceps muscle is affected following an initial ACL injury. The goal of this project is to characterize the strength and function of the quadriceps muscles in subjects who have had ACLR. Then, using a unique muscle biopsy procedure, we will remove part of the quadriceps muscle to determine structural changes that have occurred within the muscle on the microscopic level. These results will produce novel information on how the muscle responds to ACL injury and subsequent surgical reconstruction, which will allow for development of targeted assessment and rehabilitation protocols based on functional limitations as well as alterations in muscle structure. As the majority of KIN majors go on to physical therapy school, participating on this project could benefit their future career by 1) gaining experience in translational research to benefit their physical therapy practice 2) assisting on the development of new public health information to better educate professionals working with ACLR patients and 3) participating in scholarly activity such as manuscript publications and conference presentations.

Assessment of Urban Education Focused Pathway Initiatives at a Predominantly White Institution (PWI)

Investigator: Dr. Terry Flennaugh (flennaug@msu.edu )

Project Description
Project aims to involve undergraduate researchers in the scholarship connected to college access programs, college retention of student from marginalized communities at predominantly White institutions (PWI), urban teacher preparation, and identity formation.

Study of Elementary Mathematics Instruction

Investigator: Dr. Kenneth Frank (kenfrank@msu.edu)

Project Description
The application is a very short Qualtrics form. Here is the abstract and role of the undergrad researcher that I wrote in last year: This project seeks to understand how various factors influence beginning elementary teachers’ capacity to teach in ambitious ways that align with recommendations in mathematics standards documents such as the Common Core State Standards. The project is conducting classroom observations, interviews, and collecting surveys from close to 100 beginning elementary teachers across four states. In addition, we are gathering survey responses from the beginning elementary teachers' school-based mentors and colleagues to learn more about how a teacher's school-based network influences their ability to teach in ways that promote the Common Core State Standards.

Understanding the developmental impact of motor behaviors during infancy and toddlerhood

Investigator: Dr. Janet Hauck (hauckja1@msu.edu)

Project Description
The goal of this research is to better understand rapidly evolving motor behaviors in early life and elucidate their contribution to growth and development.

Political Responses to Education Reforms

Investigator: Dr. Rebecca Jacobsen (rjacobs@msu.edu)

Project Description
This assistantship would be ideal for students who have an interest in contemporary education reform issues and are majoring/minoring in any of the following disciplines: education, political science, public policy, or American history. Broadly speaking, this project will focus on one of four areas of education policy and school reform: parent reactions to standardized testing policies; the activities of education lobbyists in Michigan; motivations for voting in school board elections; or political resistance to the Common Core. The exact project will be selected in the fall following conversation and consultation with the research assistant (RA) to ensure it aligns with his/her interests and abilities. Each of these projects is currently in the early stages, affording the RA the opportunity to learn not only about the topic of research, but about issues of study design, data collection, and data analysis. It would therefore be extremely useful for undergraduate students contemplating graduate school in the future.

Development of a Low Cost Tool for Assessment of Jump Landing Asymmetries after Knee Injury

Investigator: Dr. Christopher Kuenze (kuenzech@msu.edu)

Project Description
Annually, more than 200,000 individuals suffer anterior cruciate ligament injuries resulting in more than 150,000 surgical reconstruction (ACLR) procedures. Despite completing a long course of rehabilitation with the goal of returning to physical activity, many individuals experience persistent alterations in knee joint movement patterns during functional tasks, such as jump landing, which put them at risk for re-injury as well as long term development of osteoarthritis. Unfortunately, rehabilitation clinicians such as athletic trainers and physical therapists are limited in their ability access these movement patterns in the clinical environment due to the technological and financial burden of currently available assessment tools. Recent research has shown that the auditory loudness of a jump landing can successfully predict the forces associated with the landing. The objective of the proposed research is to develop a protocol and associated low cost application that can utilize a portable microphone to measure and analyze the sounds associated with a single leg landing in order to provide clinicians with an estimate of lower extremity forces in those with and without a history of ACLR. In addition, we will utilize this technology to compare the symmetry in landing force between limbs. This project is an important first step in providing a quantitative and evidence-based tool for clinicians to utilize during the rehabilitative care of individuals with ACLR.

Facilitating Student Motivation and Engagement

Investigators: Drs. Lisa Linnenbrink-Garcia (llgarcia@msu.edu), Cary Roseth (croseth@msu.edu) and Jen Schmidt (jaschmid@msu.edu)

Project Description
We examine the development of motivation and its role in student learning in formal and informal educational settings. Our research explores personal, social, and contextual factors that support or discourage student engagement, particularly in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. This research takes various forms, including laboratory experiments, classroom-based survey studies and other multi-method field-based research. Many of our recent classroom-based studies assess the impact of alternative classroom environments such as the “Flipped” classroom on college students’ motivation and persistence in STEM majors, and on-going projects involve both adolescent and college-age populations. We are looking for students who are interested in exploring the intersection between educational, developmental, and social psychology, particularly those concerned with STEM education.

Regulation of Emotional Lability in Autism Spectrum Disorder through Caregiver Supports (RELACS)

Investigator: Dr. Kristin Rispoli (rispolik@msu.edu)

Project Description
Children and youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often struggle to regulate their emotions, and many experience comorbid mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Though it is not a diagnostic marker of ASD, poor emotion regulation may significantly impair daily functioning for individuals with the disorder. Nevertheless, interventions targeting emotion regulation are primarily designed for older children and adolescents with ASD. There is a critical need for early interventions that foster emotional modulation in young children with ASD and prevent long-term mental health issues. Parent-mediated interventions are often used to successfully treat core features of ASD, and likewise may be effective in addressing emotion dysregulation. This study is a pilot investigation of the Regulation of Emotional Lability in Autism Spectrum Disorder through Caregiver Supports (RELACS) intervention, when implemented with parents of preschoolers with ASD. Weekly intervention sessions will teach parents how to support effective emotion regulation using specific techniques, and to tailor intervention using principles of behavioral analysis. A multiple probe design will evaluate intervention effects across 5 parent-child dyads. It is predicted that RELACS will increase parents’ use of strategies to support emotion regulation and reduce dysregulated emotion in their children with ASD. The investigation will also assess parent perceptions of intervention acceptability and effectiveness.

PIRE: Crafting Engagement in Science Environments

Investigator: Dr. Barbara Schneider (bschneid@msu.edu)

Project Description
The goal of this project is to enhance science teachers’ skills in promoting engaging activities in their high school classrooms. Recently, both the United States and Finland have developed new science standards that stress the value of instructional activities that are interesting, challenging, and relevant to students’ lives and futures. This project seeks to enhance engagement in secondary science classrooms by measuring the effect of a project-based intervention. Teachers will participate in developing a projects-based science unit with experts here at MSU. We provide students with smartphones which periodically prompt them to answer a survey about their current situation and emotional state. We use the data gathered from these surveys to test the impact of projects-based learning on student engagement. Our partners in Finland will jointly conduct the same research design in their schools.

Undergraduate Research 2015-2016

Study of Ambitious Mathematics Instruction

Investigator: Dr. Kristen Bieda (kbieda@msu.edu)

Project Description
This project seeks to understand how various factors influence beginning elementary teachers capacity to teach in ambitious ways that align with recommendations in mathematics standards documents such as the Common Core State Standards. The project is conducting classroom observations, interviews, and collecting surveys from close to 100 beginning elementary teachers across four states. In addition, we are gathering survey responses from the beginning elementary teachers' school-based mentors and colleagues to learn more about how a teacher's school-based network influences their ability to teach in ways that promote the Common Core State Standards.
Role of Undergraduate Researcher:
Undergraduate researchers will assist with transcribing and analyzing surveys and interviews.

I-Engineering

Investigator: Dr. Angela Calabrese Barton (acb@msu.edu)

Project Description
We are designing engineering teaching and learning tools that support identity development in the context of teaching engineering practices. We focus on engineering for sustainable communities (energy focus), and on integrating the technical and social dimensions of designing for change at the middle grades level. Development work will happen in collaboration with youth and teachers (as co-designers and co-researchers) and will take place in both informal settings (e.g., community clubs) and in schools. Research work focuses on designing teaching and learning tools and on understandings its impact on student learning and identity development. Methods include design based research and ethnographic methods. We take an explicit equity focus in our work.
Role of Undergraduate Researcher
Undergraduate students will conduct background research for lesson design and support the lesson design itself, and will also assist in piloting materials in classrooms by taking field notes, collecting implementation artifacts, and conducting lesson exit surveys. Undergraduates will also help to analyze the data in support of lesson/tools refinement and for gaining new insights on how to teach in ways that support identity development in STEM.

iWrite, Therefore iAm: A 21st Century Identity Development Experience

Investigator: Dr. Marini Lee (leemarin@msu.edu)

Project Description
Project Description:
Asserting “that identities may be defined as collections of stories about persons,” the research of Sfard & Prusak (2005) offer teacher educators and teacher candidates a dynamic space in which to simultaneously witness and potentially develop the necessary knowledge, dispositions and skills of effective educators. As such, preservice teacher candidates in this project will engage in a participatory research space across a variety of digital platforms in which they will construct and deconstruct their own and their peers’ learning-to-teach experiences as storied identities.
Role of Undergraduate Researcher
Attend qualitative research mini-seminars (topics will include narrative inquiry, discourse analysis, & participatory action-research). • Participate in bi-weekly narrative identity writing sessions (e.g. creating and posting of prezi’s, flipagram slideshows, iMovies, YouTube video diaries, etc.) • Participate in bi-weekly story exchange sessions where researchers will reflect upon, deconstruct and analyze their own and at least one other peers’ digital narratives. • Write a final reflection/analysis/findings paper about the experience and prepare an accompanying digital presentation on findings and implications.

Screening and Early Intervention for Preschoolers at-risk for School Readiness

Investigator: Dr. John Carlson(carlsoj@msu.edu)

Project Description
This research project will provide a series of important experiences to undergraduate education/special education majors who may be interested in attending graduate school. Student involvement on this project will uniquely position them for future graduate training in the field of school psychology or a closely related field (e.g., special education, early childhood education). Students will be exposed to research and practice in the field of school psychology and specifically within a unique area of training within the field. Early childhood mental health is an especially important and growing area of practice as a focus on prevention and promotion of children's development is becoming increasingly valued by society. Helping children become prepared for formal schooling socially, emotionally, and behaviorally (i.e., school readiness) is the primary focus of the project. Undergraduate students involved with this project will have the opportunity to closely examine how preschools assess and treat mental health risk in early childhood populations. As the faculty mentor overseeing this work, Dr. Carlson has a long history of grant funding (e.g., Project S-PEC from the Office of Special Education Programs, USDOE) and scholarly achievement in this area of research. Providing advisement in research and assisting undergraduates with their graduate school applications are the two primary outcomes students can expect by participating on this project. Expected Student Activities/Outcomes: Experience in Early Childhood Mental Health Screening by December 2015: Involvement in Head Start's social-emotional screening process. Familiarity with the Devereux Early Child Assessment-Second Edition. Instrument and Scoring program. Communicating screening results to teachers and parents. Collaborating with Head Start mental health staff. Involvement with a research team (i.e., IRB, data entry, data analysis, data dissemination) led by Dr. Carlson and co-led by one of his doctoral advisees in school psychology. A UURAF poster presentation will arise from this work. Experience with Parent Training Research by May 2016: Involvement in a project on self-administered parent training. Familiarity with measuring intervention outcomes. Communicating screening results to teachers and parents. Dr. Carlson's Prior Experience/Success with Undergraduate Research Advisement include the following: McNair/SROP Advisor (N=2). Prior Undergraduate Research Assistants in the past 10 years (N=10). Professorial Assistant (N=1); She is now a PhD student in School Psychology at UW-Madison. Prior Scholarly Output with undergraduate research assistants (6 National Presentations; 2 Peer-reviewed Journal Articles) . Many undergraduates who major in education and special education are unaware of the dynamic and exciting field of school psychology. The demand for school psychologists and leaders in school psychology (i.e., researchers, faculty, supervisors in schools) is exceptional and shortages of leaders in school psychology are reported in many locations across the country. This demand is only expected to increase given the pending retirements within the field in the coming years. Evidence of this demand for well-trained school psychologists is seen in our program's placement rates as 100% of our graduates in the past 10 years are employed at the point of graduation, while most receive multiple job offers here in Michigan or nationally, if preferred. Additional evidence indicates that our recent graduates have been highly sought after and currently are playing a major role in the training of future school/child psychologists (e.g., Howard University, University of Montana, Florida International University, University of Hartford, University of Kentucky, University of South Florida, University of Northern Colorado, Alfred University, Temple University, Grand Valley State University, Yale Child Study Center). Moreover, our recent graduates are also providing exceptional leadership to the delivery of psychological services in schools across Michigan (e.g., East Lansing Schools, Jackson Public Schools, Bloomfield Hills School District, Ingham Intermediate School District, Rockford Public Schools, Ann Arbor Public Schools) and across the country (e.g., Missouri, Florida, Colorado). Working toward a career in school psychology requires application and admission to a graduate program. It is a very competitive process and the need to enhance one's application is one way to get selected for an interview to graduate school. Experience working on a research team as an undergraduate student helps students to distinguish their applications from the hundreds of others that graduate programs review. Further distinguishing one's application through national presentation and other professional writing is now a necessary part of the graduate application process.

Role of Undergraduate Researcher:
Data collection, data management, data dissemination, generation of research questions via literature reviews and annotated bibliographies.

Doctoral Dissertations & Programs in Educational Psychology and Educational Technology

Investigator: Dr. Patrick Dickson (pdickson@msu.edu)

Project Description
Doctoral Dissertations & Programs in Educational Psychology and Educational Technology Working on this project would be of interest to any student considering pursuing graduate education in the future, as you will learn a lot about the kinds of research graduate students do and how to evaluate graduate programs. You will also learn research skills such as text analysis, library research, etc. Because much of the research will be done online, you can do the work at times and places that are convenient for you. We will meet weekly for an hour or so in my office, 509E Erickson, or online via Zoom. Specifics about the research. I am looking for an undergraduate researcher to work with me on a project studying graduate programs and students in educational psychology and educational technology. I am analyzing the 75 PhD dissertations in our program in Educational Psychology & Educational Technology completed over the last decade. The research involved creating Google spreadsheets with links to the dissertations, followed by analyses using text analysis and statistical tools. I am also using the Web to locate the current employment of these 75 students, their LinkedIn sites, personal websites etc. We will develop an online survey to be sent to these students asking about their experiences and recommendations regarding our doctoral program. A second analysis involves researching the top ten educational psychology programs according to the U.S. News rankings. We are building a Google spreadsheet for each program, identifying faculty and program area strengths, including engagement with online learning and educational technology. The results of these analyses will be shared with current faculty and students as a part of considering how graduate education is changing due to the growing importance of online learning and decrease in tenure system positions, as well as submitted to national conferences. Students would be included as co-authors as appropriate.

Role of Undergraduate Researcher:
Research work will include using Web tools and online library resources, including learning text analysis and survey design, work with Google spreadsheets, design of visual displays of data. The work will be largely online and can be done at times convenient for student. We will meet once a week in person or on Zoom to discuss the work.

Learning and Development through Challenge in High School Sport

Investigator: Dr. Karl Erickson (kte@msu.edu)

Project Description
This research project seeks to understand the phenomenon of challenge in high school sport as a context for psychosocial learning and development. Why do some experiences of challenge in sport lead to personal growth and positive development, while others are more negative and can contribute to burnout and dropout? How can teachers and coaches design, contribute to, and structure experiences of challenge in sport that best facilitate personal growth, learning, and development? The first phase of the project will be a qualitative phenomenological examination of the experience of challenge in high school sport through individual interviews with high school student-athletes and focus group interviews with high school coaches. Findings of the research project are anticipated to enhance knowledge and guide future research, offering recommendations for coaches as educators to facilitate positive learning and development via challenge experiences for their student-athletes through their teaching practice.

Role of Undergraduate Researcher:
Undergraduate student researchers will work directly with Dr. Erickson and graduate students on the project. Undergraduate researchers will be heavily involved in transcription of audiotaped interviews, as well as assistance with analysis and interpretation of interview content and attending research team meetings. Under the supervision of faculty and graduate student researchers, undergraduate researchers will analyze a portion of the data collected and present their findings at the MSU Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF) in spring 2016. Additionally, there may be opportunity to attend a relevant regional research conference. Potential student researchers should have a strong interest in youth sport, coaching, and the science of sport psychology.

Cyber Partners: Harnessing Group Dynamics to Boost Motivation for More Efficient Exercise

Investigator: Dr. Deborah Feltz (dfeltz@msu.edu)

Project Description
The purpose of this study is to determine whether recently documented motivation gains in task groups (dyads in particular) to heighten the exercise experience for astronauts and help keep them motivated to exercise at levels necessary to reduce loss of aerobic fitness and muscle over long space missions. The rationale rests on the premise that astronauts need to maintain an exercise regimen to minimize bone and muscle loss (especially from hips, lower backs, and lower limbs) during long-duration space missions. High exercise intensity is needed to maximize improvements in aerobic fitness, cardiovascular health and improving muscle mass, strength, and balance Although many exercise video games involve competition among players, few games (particularly health games) take much advantage of the potential of group dynamics to motivate play (and to achieve its associated health benefits). This project aims to demonstrate how the intensity of exercise during participation in an exercise video game can be enhanced by harnessing social psychological mechanisms discovered in group dynamics research. This project is funded by a 3-year grant from the National Space Biomedical Research Institute. Data collection and data cleaning consume a large amount of time. We need undergraduate research assistants to help with data collection, data management, laboratory management, and to run the experiment daily. Undergraduate students will gain valuable firsthand experience at multiple stages or the research process while alongside faculty and graduate students on the research team. We have finished the first cohort of the study and will begin the second cohort in the beginning of September. The average hours of undergraduate researcher labor during the first cohort was 155 hours a week. Each cohort comes to the laboratory for 6 sessions a week, over a period of 24 weeks (for a total of 144 sessions).

Role of Undergraduate Researcher:
Undergraduate researchers will be involved in the day-to-day operation of the lab. They will directly contribute to participant testing, data collection, data coding, data analysis, familiarization with and mastery of several experimental protocols, and acquiring a basic understanding of the overarching goals of the project. Students will attend research team meetings throughout the year and will be expected to contribute in these meetings. Students will also be required to complete IRB and CITI training prior to working with participants as required by MSU’s Institutional Review Board. Students who are hired will be required to analyze a portion of the data collected in the NSBRI project and will present their findings at the Michigan State University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF) in the spring semester of 2016. Two URAs will have the opportunity to attend a regional conference with the faculty and graduate student advisors (e.g. MSEPS - Midwest Sport and Exercise Psychology Symposium, Midwest American College of Sports Medicine).

Differences in motor skill learning across lifespan in a virtual interface

Investigator: Dr. Mei-Hua Lee (mhlee@msu.edu)

Project Description
In this project, we are examining how different populations learn to control body-machine interfaces (BMI). Similar to brain-machine interfaces, BMIs establish a communication pathway between the body and an external device. With practice, users can interact with a variety of devices by moving their body, allowing efficient patterns of control. We are using BMIs to investigate if there are differences across the lifespan in learning a novel motor task. Students with an interest in human movement and behavior (Kinesiology, Human Biology, Psychology, Neuroscience) and/or human-machine interaction (Engineering) are encouraged to apply.
Role of Undergraduate Researcher:
Typically undergraduate students will start off assisting with data collection and analysis. With more experience, they will have the opportunity to become more involved with the experimental design and writing process. In addition to experience with research, undergraduate students will have the opportunity to sharpen their programming and presentation skills.

Facilitating Student Motivation and Engagement in the Classroom

Investigator: Dr. Lisa Linnenbrinnk-Garcia (llgarcia@msu.edu)

Project Description
We examine the development of motivation and the relations among motivation, student engagement, and student learning in adolescent and young adult populations. Our research takes place primarily in the context of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) learning.

Role of Undergraduate Researcher:
Undergraduate research assistants will collaborate with faculty and graduate students in Educational Psychology and Educational Technology to assemble and develop measures; collect, enter, and analyze data; build and maintain citation management files; and attend weekly lab meetings. Students may also have opportunities for independent research projects.

Digital Reading Materials for Poor Readers. Are They The Solution?

Investigator: Dr. Cynthia Okolo (Okolo@msu.edu)

Project Description
Despite many educational reforms, schools still rely on textbooks in the majority of classes. Many students are poor readers, however, and reading and learning from textbooks presents a very difficult challenge. What happens when students can’t read textbooks? Digital reading materials are seen as a breakthrough in education, because text can be read to students and many other feature of the text can be adapted to individual needs. Yet, digital reading materials, in and of themselves, are not sufficient to ensure that poor readers can access information and succeed in the educational settings. Furthermore, effective use of digital reading materials hinges on factors that are often not discussed. These include appropriate text markup, easy-to-use interfaces for displaying and interacting with text, and user knowledge of how to search, locate, download, and make effective use of text. Digital reading materials have the potential to not only provide access to instructional materials, but also to improve literacy skills. However, to achieve this goal, all the factors cited above need to be in place, in addition to interface characteristics that support literacy learning and teacher knowledge of how to integrate these materials into instruction. In this project, we are examining these and other issues with middle school students in the Lansing School District. We are working with students with print disabilities to learn how they access, use, and learn from digital reading materials on a computer and on iPads.

Role of Undergraduate Researcher:
Data collection, refinement of data collection protocol, data analysis, and dissemination of findings, as well as defining future studies.

The Early Learning Institute: Examining a Community-based Early Intervention Model for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Investigator: Dr. Josh Plavnick (Plavnick@msu.edu)

Project Description
This project will examine the effectiveness of a comprehensive early intervention program for 3-4 year old children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The core components of the Early Learning Institute intervention program include adult delivered naturalistic behavioral therapy, inclusive behavioral therapy with typically developing peers, parent and family training, and school-based consultation to support the transition to kindergarten. Research Assistants involved in this project will work with a team of faculty, post-docs, and doctoral students examining the overall efficacy of this model of early intervention, as well as the comparative efficacy of various therapeutic programs on discrete outcomes of children with ASD.

Role of Undergraduate Researcher:
The Undergraduate Researcher will be involved in a range of research activities associated with intervention research in an applied setting. This includes creating research stimuli, collecting behavioral observation data, and creating and organizing databases. Exemplary Undergraduate Researchers will have the opportunity to develop and implement systematic intervention protocols for children with ASD, under the guidance of experts in these areas.

Physical-activity Induced Transient Changes in Hemodynamics

Investigator: Dr. Matthew Pontifex (pontifex@msu.edu)

Project Description
Project Description: Despite a growing body of literature which has indicated that participation in a single bout of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise serves to transiently enhance aspects of higher-order cognition, the neurobiological mechanisms associated with the beneficial effects of acute exercise remain unknown. This project will utilize state-of-the-art functional magnetic resonance imaging to establish an empirical basis for two hypothesized neurobiological mechanisms, resting-state cerebral blood flow and functional neural connectivity, proposed to underlie the beneficial effects of single-bouts of physical activity on inhibitory control during preadolescence.

Role of Undergraduate Researcher:
Recruit and schedule participants, assist with running preliminary screening sessions, and experimental sessions.

Online Collaboration and the Role of Social Ostracism

Investigator: Dr. Cary Roseth (croseth@msu.edu)

Project Description
Cooperative learning is associated with important psychological and educational outcomes, but little is known about the way online communication affects cooperative activities. This is a problem, of course, because some students feel ostracized when left out of online conversations and social ostracism is associated with decreased motivation, engagement, and psychological health. This project (IRB#15-127) examines these issues by using an experimental design to examine the role of belongingness and social exclusion in online cooperative learning.

Role of Undergraduate Researcher:
Two undergraduate researchers will be hired this fall to support and run this experiment. One student will greet participants, describe the experiment and get appropriate consent, then guide the participant through the activity. During the experiment, the second student will serve follow the experimental protocol while serving as one of the online group members. Both students will serve in both roles at different times and also participate in weekly lab meetings. A doctoral student and I will mentor the undergraduate researchers throughout the process and help them to present our findings at UURAF. This project provides a unique opportunity to gain experience in an experimental study with theoretical and practical implications.

Crafting Optimal Learning in Science Environments

Investigator: Dr. Barbara Schneider (bschneid@msu.edu)

Project Description
The goal of this project is to enhance science teachers’ skills in promoting engaging activities in their high school classrooms. Recently, both the United States and Finland have developed new science standards that stress the value of instructional activities that are interesting, challenging, and relevant to students’ lives and futures. This project seeks to enhance engagement in secondary science classrooms by measuring the effect of a project-based intervention. Teachers will participate in developing a projects-based science unit with experts here at MSU. We provide students with smartphones which periodically prompt them to answer a survey about their current situation and emotional state. We use the data gathered from these surveys to test the impact of projects-based learning on student engagement. Our partners in Finland will jointly conduct the same research design in their schools.

Role of Undergraduate Researcher:
Undergraduates will help supervise data collection in classrooms. They will also manage research instruments including programming smartphones, uploading the data, entering survey data, and coding responses.

Collaborative Learning, Identity, and Equity in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

Investigator: Dr. Niral Shah (Investigator: Dr. Niral Shah )

Project Description
Learning to collaborate effectively with others is a critically important skill. This research project investigates how young children interact with their peers as they create computer games and artwork in a fun, interactive programming environment called Scratch: http://scratch.mit.edu. Our research team explores two key issues: 1) how students come to build identities as capable learners in STEM education; and 2) how collaborative interactions can lead to more or less equitable opportunities to learn, especially for young women and students of color. No prior experience with computer science is needed.

Role of Undergraduate Researcher:
Undergraduate researchers will build their research skill set by engaging in several dimensions of the research process. Primary responsibilities include qualitative analysis of video and audio data using Excel and Google Spreadsheets, data formatting, and coding of data. Undergraduate researchers will also be encouraged to explore a research question of their own interest, and will receive mentorship towards presenting their work at the University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF) in the spring.

Undergraduate Research 2014-2015

Making for Change: Becoming Community Engineering Experts through Makerspaces and Youth Ethnography

Investigator: Dr. Angela Calabrese Barton, Department of Teacher Education (acb@msu.edu;http://barton.wiki.educ.msu.edu/)

Abstract
Making for Change (M4C), a 2-year project which addresses two challenges faced by middle school youth from underrepresented backgrounds in the US: 1) opportunities to learn engineering meaningfully, and to apply it to understanding and solving real world problems (learning), and 2) the desire/ability to see oneself as an important, contributing producer and consumer of engineering (identity). Studies reveal that student success in school science is not well correlated with the pursuit of STEM trajectories. Even when students are successful in STEM-based learning, many still see the subject as disconnected from their lives and pursuits. Identity gaps (e.g., engineering is not for me) continue for students from non-white and non-Asian backgrounds. To help break these cultural barriers, we will develop and study an innovative informal STEM learning model to engage middle school youth from underrepresented backgrounds in engineering for sustainable communities. The primary goals are to support youth in developing productive identities in engineering, while also learning the hybrid practices that make up engineering for sustainable communities (defining problems, designing solutions). Our model involves youth iteratively and generatively engaging in maker spaces and community ethnography to make sense of local problems and design solutions for them, while also connecting into a broader social network of experts. Using youth collaborative design-based research, we will investigate the initial impact of M4C on identity work and engagement in engineering among participating youth from underrepresented backgrounds in Lansing, MI and Greensboro, NC over a two-year period.

Role of Undergraduate Researcher
Undergraduate researchers will be full members of our research team. We will employ a youth-collaborative design-based research approach. Undergraduates will be involved in conducting conversation group interviews with youth about their developing experiences in M4C, coding that data and preparing analytic memos to support on-going development. They will also be involved in designing, administering and coding weekly exist passes (open ended questions) to gather information on what students learn each week, and how that relates to their developing sense of self. Undergraduate researchers will be supported in preparing a paper describing their findings, which they can submit for presentation (in poster format) at the Undergraduate Research Symposium at MSU as well as the National Association for Research in Science Teaching’s annual meeting. It is my goal that undergraduate students will learn a) social practice theory (our guiding conceptual lens) and the insights it offers into learning and identity work, b) qualitative research skills, including participant observation, interviewing and open-ended survey, c) basic coding skills using both student-centered and event centered approaches, and d) analytic writing skills. Given that this work will take place in an innovative informal science/engineering program bringing together community ethnography and maker spaces, it is a secondary hope that undergraduate students will learn skills in program development and in how research informs practice.

Sensitivity and Specificity of Sport-Related Concussion Tools to Better Identify Concussions in High School Athletes

Investigator: Dr. Tracey Covassin, Department of Kinesiology (covassin@msu.edu;http://covassin.wiki.educ.msu.edu/)

Abstract
Concussion in sport has reached “epidemic” levels in the US with approximately 1.6 to 3.8 million sport-related concussions occurring each year. Current estimates indicate that concussions comprise 8.9% of all high school sports injuries, and the incidence of concussion is expected to increase relative to improved sport related concussion awareness and education. Current concussion consensus statements recommend that the management of sport-related concussion be based on a multi-faceted approach that includes symptom inventories, balance assessments, sideline assessments, and neurocognitive testing. The use of employing pre-participation baseline tests followed by a series of post-concussion tests has become a widely adopted element within the multidisciplinary approach to concussion evaluation and management. Current tools for detecting concussion-induced deficits appear to lack sufficient sensitivity and specificity to identify sports-related concussions. The detection of such deficits is imperative to the prevention of additional injuries and catastrophic consequences such as second impact syndrome (athlete who is not healed from a concussion gets a second concussion which can lead to permanent brain damage or death). Therefore, this year’s research will focus on determining the sensitivity and specificity of these concussion tools commonly used to identify a concussion.

Role of Undergraduate Researcher
The undergraduate students will be responsible for gathering parental consents at parent meetings and cross-referencing player rosters with these consents. Once all parents have been contacted and given the opportunity to decide if their child can participate pre-season testing will begin. I will arrange baseline testing with the certified athletic trainer at each of the 6 local high schools (Holt, Haslett, East Lansing, Eastern, Everett, Sexton). On the day of testing, the undergraduate students will be required to arrive at the computer lab 45 minutes prior to testing to set up the computers. For baseline testing, students will administer the King Devick, Vestibular Ocular Motor Screen, Balance Error Scoring System, ImPACT, SCAT3, Sway Balance, and symptom checklist to students who volunteer to participate in the study. The undergraduate students will also be required to assist the certified athletic trainer with administering post-concussion tests at 2-3 days post-concussion and again when symptom-free. Students will be supervised by myself and current doctoral students working in the Sport-Related Concussion Laboratory. They will be directly supervised by myself in administering the concussion tests until I am comfortable having them do the testing with a graduate student. Students will also attend weekly laboratory meetings to discuss other projects, writing tasks, and presentations.

Big Money in Education Election

Investigator: Dr. Rebecca Jacobsen, Department of Teacher Education (rjacobs@msu.edu)

Abstract
While for many years, local school board elections have been seen as uninteresting with low voter turn-out and small scale campaigns, some recent elections have received a great deal of attention. To understand this new attention to local school election, we will examine campaign contributions to several school elections to understand who is giving, how much they are giving and potentially why they are interested in these elections.

Role of Undergraduate Researcher
Undergraduates will assist in obtaining, organizing and coding data. Undergraduates will complete profiles of large donors. Undergraduates will track news related to campaigns and the issues that are hot in the campaigns.

Implementation of Common Core for Mathematics Film Project

Investigator: Dr. William Schmidt, Center for the Study of Curriculum (bschmidt@msu.edu)

Abstract
The Center for the Study of Curriculum has been working with school districts in implementation of the Common Core for Mathematics over two years. Last year we began video taping of teaches in the classroom to identify good practices. Last year was spent coding and verifying that we have a process that is consistent between coders. This year we will continue filming and further the research findings as we feel we have a solid coding process in place.

Role of Undergraduate Researcher
Students and graduate students arrange times and go to classrooms to film teachers in local school mathematics classes.

Fundamental motor skill acquisition

Investigator: Dr. Mei-Hua Lee, Department of Kinesiology (mhlee@msu.edu;http://education.msu.edu/kin/research/sdlab/)

Abstract
In this project, we are interested in how new behaviors and movement patterns emerge out of previous ones, specifically in the context of how spontaneous arm movements develop into goal-directed reaching and grasping movements. We are also examining the characteristics of spontaneous movement by using kinematic analysis, biofeedback, and qualitative analysis. Our overall goal is to characterize the developmental trajectories of typical and atypical motor movements.

Role of Undergraduate Researcher
Students will start off assisting with data collection and analysis. With more experience, they will have the opportunity to become more involved with the experimental design and writing process.

Investigating UDL Training and Implementation

Investigator: Dr. Cindy Okolo, Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education (Okolo@msu.edu;http://okolo.wiki.educ.msu.edu/)

Abstract
In this project, we are working with the Macomb County ISD to measure the impact of a two year program of teacher training on Universal Design for Learning (UDL) practices, as implemented in middle school diverse classrooms. We are studying the training itself, interviewing teachers and students, and conducting classroom observations to examine the use of specific UDL practices and their impact on students and teachers.

Role of Undergraduate Researcher
Analyzing UDL lesson plans; reviewing and coding video information; transcribing and coding audio interviews; possible travel to Macomb schools to conduct observations.

Identifying Successful Inter-Organizational Relationships between University Museums and University Colleges

Investigator: Denice Leach, MSU Museum Specialist (dblair@msu.edu)

Abstract
Over 300 university museums (UMs) are part of institutions of higher learning in the United States. UMs provide exciting learning opportunities to their university communities often not available elsewhere, including experiential learning beyond the classroom, application of theories and concepts, and exploration of multidisciplinary viewpoints, through high-impact object- and specimen-based learning. Over time, however, changes have occurred in many universities' goals, available funding, and UM audiences (now often including the general public and K-12 schools). The UM's relevance to university teaching and research missions even may be questioned. These changes have resulted in many UMs struggling to maintain successful relationships with university colleges. (Relationship is defined as partnerships, collaborations, and mutual investment with the purpose of fostering educational success.) Most UMs have a genuine desire to engage university faculty and students with the museum in order to increase opportunities for faculty and student learning, teaching, and research, but there appears to be general perplexity in the field about how to make this happen in any large-scale, sustained manner. The goal of this research project is to identify methods of building and sustaining successful inter-organizational relationships between UMs and university colleges. This project builds on previous research work in this area by the supervising faculty member. Project Director Denice Blair has mentored five undergraduate student research assistants on three projects in the past five years. These students have engaged in data collection, analysis, and report writing work, culminating in two conference presentations and a publication. Dr. Blair's mentoring approach is to help learners gain skill through a combination of instruction, collaboration, and support for independent work. The research assistant will present the project results in the form of a research poster at the University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (URRAF) in April 2015. Additionally, the assistant will have the opportunity to present during a brown bag session at the MSU Museum. Depending on the results, this project may create the foundation for a larger research study.

Role of Undergraduate Researcher
The undergraduate research assistant will help conduct an exploratory research study with UM and college administrators, to determine their institutional goals and methods for building/sustaining relationships with university colleges, their beliefs about the success of these methods, and beliefs about elements necessary for a sustainable model of UM-college partnerships. Working directly with the faculty member, the research assistant will learn to develop and test a questionnaire, recruit participants, collect data using a questionnaire, analyze data using statistical and qualitative methods, and write a research report. The assistant will learn to present the research results to scholarly audiences.

A Sibling-Mediated Play Skills Intervention for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Investigator: Carolyn Shivers, Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education (shivercm@msu.edu)

Abstract
The primary goals of this project are to increase play and social skills among children with autism spectrum disorder and improve their relationship with their siblings. Researchers will incorporate the restricted interests of the child with ASD into a new, two-player game that the siblings will learn together. Sibling interactions will be video-taped and coded to determine changes in behavior.

Role of Undergraduate Researcher
The primary responsibilities of the student researcher will be data collection and coding. Data collection will take place in the family homes, and researchers will code video-taped interactions to observe behavior of both the child with ASD and the sibling.

Screening and Early Intervention for Preschoolers at-risk for School Readiness

Investigator: Dr. John Carlson, Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education (carlsoj@msu.edu;http://education.msu.edu/faculty/carlson/John-Carlson-Vita.pdf)

Abstract
This research project will provide a series of important experiences to undergraduate education/special education majors who may be interested in attending graduate school. Student involvement on this project will uniquely position them for future graduate training in the field of school psychology or a closely related field (e.g., special education, early childhood education). Students will be exposed to research and practice in the field of school psychology and specifically within a unique area of training within the field. Early childhood mental health is an especially important and growing area of practice as a focus on prevention and promotion of children's development is becoming increasingly valued by society. Helping children become prepared for formal schooling socially, emotionally, and behaviorally (i.e., school readiness) is the primary focus of the project. Undergraduate students involved with this project will have the opportunity to closely examine how preschools assess and treat mental health risk in early childhood populations. As the faculty mentor overseeing this work, Dr. Carlson has a long history of grant funding (e.g., Project S-PEC from the Office of Special Education Programs, USDOE) and scholarly achievement in this area of research. Providing advisement in research and assisting undergraduates with their graduate school applications are the two primary outcomes students can expect by participating on this project. Expected Student Activities/Outcomes: Experience in Early Childhood Mental Health Screening by December 2014: Involvement in Head Start's social-emotional screening process. Familiarity with the Devereux Early Child Assessment-Second Edition. Instrument and Scoring program. Communicating screening results to teachers and parents. Collaborating with Head Start mental health staff. Involvement with a research team (i.e., IRB, data entry, data analysis, data dissemination) led by Dr. Carlson and co-led by one of his doctoral advisees in school psychology. UURAF poster presentation will arise from this work. Experience with Parent Training Research by May 2015: Involvement in a project on self-administered parent training. Familiarity with measuring intervention outcomes. Communicating screening results to teachers and parents. Dr. Carlson's Prior Experience/Success with Undergraduate Research Advisement include the following: McNair/SROP Advisor (N=2). Prior Undergraduate Research Assistants in the past 10 years (N=10). Professorial Assistant (N=1); She is now a PhD student in School Psychology at UW-Madison. Prior Scholarly Output with undergraduate research assistants (6 National Presentations; 2 Peer-reviewed Journal Articles) Award received by prior undergraduate research assistants (UURAF Poster Presentation Award). Many undergraduates who major in education and special education are unaware of the dynamic and exciting field of school psychology. The demand for school psychologists and leaders in school psychology (i.e., researchers, faculty, supervisors in schools) is exceptional and shortages of leaders in school psychology are reported in many locations across the country. This demand is only expected to increase given the pending retirements within the field in the coming years. Evidence of this demand for well-trained school psychologists is seen in our program's placement rates as 100% of our graduates in the past 10 years are employed at the point of graduation, while most receive multiple job offers here in Michigan or nationally, if preferred. Additional evidence indicates that our recent graduates have been highly sought after and currently are playing a major role in the training of future school/child psychologists (e.g., Howard University, University of Montana, Florida International University, University of Hartford, University of Kentucky, University of South Florida, University of Northern Colorado, Alfred University, Temple University, Grand Valley State University, Yale Child Study Center). Moreover, our recent graduates are also providing exceptional leadership to the delivery of psychological services in schools across Michigan (e.g., East Lansing Schools, Jackson Public Schools, Bloomfield Hills School District, Ingham Intermediate School District, Rockford Public Schools, Ann Arbor Public Schools) and across the country (e.g., Missouri, Florida, Colorado). Working toward a career in school psychology requires application and admission to a graduate program. It is a very competitive process and the need to enhance one's application is one way to get selected for an interview to graduate school. Experience working on a research team as an undergraduate student helps students to distinguish their applications from the hundreds of others that graduate programs review. Further distinguishing one's application through national presentation and other professional writing is now a necessary part of the graduate application process.

Role of Undergraduate Researcher
Data collection, data management, data dissemination. Generation of research questions via literature reviews and annotated bibliographies

Cyber Partners: Harnessing Group Dynamics to Boost Motivation to Exercise (NIH Study)

Investigator: Dr. Deborah Feltz, Department of Kinesiology (dfeltz@msu.edu;http://education.msu.edu/kin/xrl/)

Abstract
This study is comprised of two experiments designed to determine whether recently documented motivation gains in exercise groups can be implemented in exercise video games (i.e., exergames) with virtual exercise partners. Though many exergames involve competition among players, few take advantage of the potential of group dynamics to motivate gameplay and maximize health benefits. For the general population, if one’s motivation can be improved to increase the intensity and duration of exercise by participating with a partner, they will realize better health outcomes than if they exercise alone. We are using software to create a virtual exercise partner that embodies qualities that may maximally motivate players. The effects of exercising with these virtual exergame partners are being examined in two exercise tasks (i.e., a single-session isometric muscular endurance task and a long-term aerobic cycling task) with two populations (i.e., adults and college students). This project is funded by a 2-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Data collection is a large portion of these projects, accounting for over 1000 hours of lab time. We need assistants to help with data collecting and coding, laboratory management, and to assist as experimenters. Over the next year, our research team faces a tough challenge in completing the experiments, particularly in finding enough personnel to run the labs and collect data from two experiments. Involvement with our lab on these projects offers an opportunity for undergraduates to gain firsthand experience at multiple stages of the research process while working side by side with and/or under the direct supervision of faculty and graduate students on the research team. Our team would benefit greatly from the addition of bright, enthusiastic students interested in the fields of health, fitness, or social psychology, and who want hands-on participation in experimental research.

Role of Undergraduate Researcher
Undergraduate researchers will be involved in direct participant interactions (e.g., participant recruitment and participant testing), data collection, data coding, data analysis, familiarization with and mastery of experimental several protocols, critical analysis of methodology employed to obtain data, acquiring a basic understanding of overarching goals of the project and key measures being examined. Students will attend several research team meetings and training sessions throughout the year, and are expected to complete IRB and CITI training prior to working with participants as required MSU’s Institutional Review Board. Under the supervision of faculty and graduate student researchers, all paid undergraduate researchers will analyze a portion of the data collected and present their findings at the Michigan State University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF) in the spring semester of 2015. Some undergraduate researchers may have the opportunity to attend a local conference where research relevant to this project will be presented.

Comprehensive Reading Instruction for Children with Severe Autism Spectrum Disorders

Investigator: Dr. Josh Plavnick, Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education (Plavnick@msu.edu;http://plavnick.fts.educ.msu.edu)

Abstract
Learning to read is a pivotal skill for young children and yet, it is often under-emphasized in both research and practice for children with severe autism spectrum disorders (ASD). In addition, almost nothing is known about how children with severe ASD interact with text or how they respond to reading instruction. The purpose of this project is to administer a daily reading program consisting of computer-based and teacher-led instruction and use state-of-the-art technologies to measure reading engagement, performance, and related outcomes. The specific objectives are to (1) document the supports that children with severe ASD need to access reading instruction and (2) investigate whether participation in a reading intervention relates to gains in children’s literacy, language, and social interaction.

Role of Undergraduate Researcher
Undergraduate researchers will assist in data collection and analysis, organization of materials for use in research sites (schools), and in the development of intervention protocols for educators to administer to children with severe ASD.

Sensory integration in upper limb coordination

Investigator: Dr. Florian A. Kagerer, Department of Kinesiology (fkagerer@msu.edu)

Abstract
In my lab, we investigate the contributions of sensory input – vision and proprioception – to the control of arms and hands. We use behavioral experiments to record arm movements, either through joysticks or other motion capture systems. In these experiments, participants typically guide a cursor to targets on a computer screen. In certain phases of the experiment, the visual feedback is manipulated in ways that require participants to adapt their movements in order to successfully master the task. This ‘adaptive response’ informs us about how movements are learned, and about the capacity of the nervous system to adapt to changing circumstances, something which is relevant, for example, in the context of movement rehabilitation.

Role of Undergraduate Researcher
Students in my lab will be exposed to different aspects of research: from participant recruitment to running short movement tests, supervising ongoing experiments, and learning about the basics of how to analyze movements. Some ‘tech-savviness’ is required, and good interpersonal skills. A good math background would be nice as well; familiarity with MatLab is a plus, but not required.

Supporting Student Motivation and Engagement

Investigator: Lisa Linnenbrink-Garcia, Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education (llgarcia@msu.edu)

Abstract
In the Linnenbrink-Garcia lab, we examine the development of motivation in school settings and the relations between motivation and student learning. The majority of our research explores personal and contextual factors that support or discourage student engagement, particularly in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. This research has taken various forms, including laboratory experiments, field experiments, and classroom-based survey studies. Many of our recent classroom-based studies assess the impact of alternative classroom environments on college students’ motivation and persistence in STEM majors. Most of our research focuses on college student populations, although we also study motivation during adolescence. We are looking for students who are interested in exploring the intersection between educational and developmental psychology, particularly those concerned with STEM education.

Role of Undergraduate Researcher
Assist with data collection, processing, and analysis. Participate in bi-weekly research meetings, which include discussions related to the development and analysis of research questions, the application of psychological research to education, theory development, and practical aspects of conducting research.

It Takes A Village: Documenting the Impact of the Summer High School Scholars Program

Investigator: Dr. Marini Lee, Academic Specialist (leemarin@msu.edu)

Abstract
Since 2004, the Office of Student Support Services and Recruitment has offered the Summer High School Scholars Program as a way to encourage promising students from urban schools to pursue careers in education. This project seeks to document the impact of the program, particularly how participation influenced participants’ post-secondary education and career choice(s) as well as their sense (and experience) of college readiness.

Role of Undergraduate Researcher
Utilizing a “near peer” approach, undergraduate researchers will help to locate and interview past program participants. They will also assist in analyzing interview data, compiling Cohort Profiles, establishing an alumni database and helping to create a short documentary film to be used to promote the program.

Collaborative Learning, Identity, and Equity in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

Investigator: Niral Shah, Department of Teacher Education (niral@msu.edu)

Abstract
Learning to collaborate effectively with others is a critically important skill. This research project investigates how young children interact with their peers as they create computer games and artwork in a fun, interactive programming environment called Scratch: http://scratch.mit.edu. Our research team explores two key issues: 1) how students come to build identities as capable learners in STEM education; and 2) how collaborative interactions can lead to more or less equitable opportunities to learn, especially for young women and students of color. No prior experience with computer science is needed.

Role of Undergraduate Researcher
Undergraduate researchers will build their research skill set by engaging in several dimensions of the research process. Primary responsibilities include qualitative analysis of video and audio data using Excel and Google Spreadsheets, data formatting, and coding of data. Undergraduate researchers will also be encouraged to explore a research question of their own interest, and will receive mentorship towards presenting their work at the University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF) in the spring.

Undergraduate Research 2013-2014

Exploring How Mindset Affects Participation in Mathematical Discussions

Investigator: Dr. Kristen Bieda, Department of Teacher Education (dcarter@msu.edu;https://www.msu.edu/~kbieda/

Abstract
Research on mindset (Dweck, 2006) is increasingly informing the work of teachers in K-12 school settings. Given the widespread cultural notions of what makes someone good at math (i.e. "math gene"), the theory of mindset suggests that it may be a student's orientation to learning math that may have more of an effect on their capacity to do well in math class than some sort of pre-determined ability to learn math.
As students' participation in discussions about mathematical ideas can positively affect what they learn about mathematics, this project will explore the relationship between a student's mindset and their participation in discussions in math class. Specifically, the research will investigate the following question: How do students' mindsets (Dweck, 2006) toward learning relate to the nature and frequency with which they participate in mathematical discussions in whole-class settings?
To address this question, I will employ an undergraduate research assistant from September 2013-June 2014. The student will work under my direction and that of a doctoral student. The doctoral student will collect video data of classroom lessons and surveys that include questions on mindset from approximately 60 seventh-grade students in two different classes. I will mentor the student in preparing a presentation for UUARF on the findings from analysis to address the research question.
The undergraduate research assistant will assist the doctoral student in collecting video data in school classrooms, will transcribe selected segments of the video data, and will input student survey responses into a database and conduct statistical analyses of these responses. I will mentor the student in conducting both quantitative and qualitative analyses to address the research question. This project will give the student an opportunity to experience multiple phases of the research process, as well as the nature of conducting research in classroom settings.

Promoting Mental Health in Young Children

Investigator: Dr. John S. Carlson, Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education (carlsoj@msu.edu;https://www.msu.edu/~kbieda/

Abstract

This research project will provide a series of important experiences to undergraduate education/special education majors who may be interested in attending graduate school. Student involvement on this project will uniquely position them for future graduate training in the field of school psychology or a closely related field (e.g., special education). Students will be exposed to research and practice in the field of school psychology and specifically within a unique area of training within the field. Early childhood mental health is an especially important and growing area of practice as a focus on prevention and promotion of children's development is becoming increasingly valued by society. Helping children become prepared for formal schooling socially, emotionally, and behaviorally is the primary focus of the project. Undergraduate students involved with this project will have the opportunity to closely examine how preschools assess and treat mental health risk in early childhood populations. As the faculty mentor overseeing this work, I have a long history of grant funding (e.g., Project S-PEC from the Office of Special Education Programs, USDOE) and scholarly achievement in this area of research. Providing advisement in research and assisting undergraduates with their graduate school applications are the two primary outcomes students can expect by participating on this project.

Expected Student Activities/Outcomes:

  1. Experience in Early Childhood Mental Health Screening by December 2013:

    1. Involvement in Head Start's social-emotional screening process.
    2. Familiarity with the Devereux Early Child Assessment-Second Edition. Instrument and Scoring program.
    3. Communicating screening results to teachers and parents.
    4. Collaborating with Head Start mental health staff.
    5. Involvement with a research team (i.e., IRB, data entry, data analysis, data dissemination) led by Dr. Carlson and co-led by one of his doctoral advisees in school psychology. UURAF poster presentation will arise from this work.
  2. Experience with Parent Training Research by May 2014:

    1. Involvement in a project on self-administered parent training.
    2. Familiarity with measuring intervention outcomes.
    3. Communicating screening results to teachers and parents.
    4. Collaborating with Head Start mental health staff.
    5. Involvement with a research team (i.e., IRB, data entry, data analysis, data dissemination) led by Dr. Carlson and co-led by one of his doctoral advisees in school psychology. A national presentation and journal publication will arise from this work.
  3. Expected Number of Publications by June 2014: 1
  4. Expected Number of Presentation Proposals by June 2014: 2 (1 at the National Association of School Psychologists; 1 at MSU's University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF)

Dr. Carlson's Prior Experience/Success with Undergraduate Research Advisement:

  1. McNair/SROP Advisor (N=2)
  2. 8 Prior Undergraduate Research Assistants in the past 10 years
  3. Professorial Assistant (N=1); She is now a PhD student in School Psychology at UW-Madison
  4. Prior Scholarly Output with undergraduate research assistants (6 National Presentations; 2 Peer-reviewed Journal Articles)
  5. Award received by prior undergraduate research assistants (UURAF Poster Presentation Award)
  6. Current (2013-2014) undergraduate research assistants: 1

Many undergraduates who major in education and special education are unaware of the dynamic and exciting field of school psychology. The demand for school psychologists and leaders in school psychology (i.e., researchers, faculty, supervisors in schools) is exceptional. This demand is only expected to increase given the pending retirements within the field in the coming years.

Evidence of this demand for well-trained school psychologists is seen in our program's placement rates as 100% of our graduates in the past 10 years are employed at the point of graduation, while most receive multiple job offers here in Michigan or nationally, if preferred. Additional evidence indicates that our recent graduates have been highly sought after and currently are playing a major role in the training of future school/child psychologists (e.g., Howard University, University of Montana, Florida International University, University of Hartford, University of Kentucky, University of South Florida, University of Northern Colorado, Alfred University St. Judes Children's Hospital, Yale Child Study Center). Moreover, our recent graduates are also providing exceptional leadership to the delivery of psychological services in schools across Michigan (e.g., East Lansing Schools, Jackson Public Schools, Bloomfield Hills School District, Ingham Intermediate School District, Rockford Public Schools) and across the country (e.g., Missouri, Florida, Colorado).

Working toward a career in school psychology requires application and admission to a graduate program. It is a very competitive process and the need to enhance one's application is one way to get selected for an interview to graduate school. Experience working on a research team as an undergraduate student helps students to distinguish their applications from the hundreds of others that graduate programs review. Further distinguishing one's application through national presentation and peer-reviewed publications is now a necessary part of the graduate application process.

Multidisciplinary approach to better identify a sports-related concussion

Investigator: Investigator: Dr. Tracey Covassin, Department of Kinesiology (covassin@msu.edu)

Abstract
Concussion in sport has reached "epidemic" levels in the US with approximately 1.6 to 3.8 million sport-related concussions occurring each year. Current estimates indicate that concussions comprise 8.9% of all high school sports injuries, and the incidence of concussion is expected to increase relative to improved sport related concussion awareness and education. Current concussion consensus statements recommend that the management of sport-related concussion be based on a multi-faceted approach that includes symptom inventories, balance assessments, sideline assessments, and neurocognitive testing. The use of employing pre-participation baseline tests followed by a series of post-concussion tests has become a widely adopted element within the multidisciplinary approach to concussion evaluation and management. Current tools for detecting residual concussion-induced deficits appear to lack sufficient sensitivity to identify impairments beyond the acute-stage of injury to ensure safe return-to-play conditions. The detection of such residual deficits is imperative to the prevention of additional injuries and catastrophic consequences such as second impact syndrome. Therefore, this year's research will focus on determining the sensitivity of these concussion tools commonly used to identify a concussion. This study will employ a prospective, repeated measures design to study the psychometric properties of these concussion tools. In addition, we will also examine neurocognitive performance, concussion symptoms, and balance in concussed high school athletes. The significance of this years study is its potential to substantially advance the accuracy of return-to-play decisions following a concussive injury to ensure that no residual impairments persist.

Students Role: The undergraduate students will be responsible for gathering parental consents at parent meetings and cross-referencing player rosters with these consents. Once all parents have been contacted and given the opportunity to decide if their child can participate pre-season testing will begin. I will arrange baseline testing with the certified athletic trainer at each of the 4 local high schools. On the day of testing, the undergraduate students will be required to arrive at the computer lab 45 minutes prior to testing to set up the computers. For baseline testing, students will administer the King-Devitt, SCAT3, ImPACT, and other neurocognitive tests to students who volunteer to participate in the study. The undergraduate students will also be required to assist the certified athletic trainer with administering post-concussion tests at 2-3 days post-concussion and again when symptom-free. Students will be supervised by myself and current doctoral students working in the Sport-Related Concussion Laboratory. They will be directly supervised by myself in administering the concussion tests until I am comfortable having them do the testing with a graduate student. Students will also attend weekly laboratory meetings to discuss other projects, writing tasks, and presentations.

Prior Experience in Directing Undergraduate Students in Research

I have mentored over 12 undergraduate students over the past 5 years including 3 Professorial Assistants. I mentored these students weekly on IRB procedures (they all do their IRB training in September), data collection procedures, administration of concussion and psychosocial surveys, and how to clean a large database. These students were responsible for helping me collect data on studies, attend weekly meetings, and presented numerous research presentations at the MSU Undergraduate Research Forum. Last year I had 3 groups of students present at the MSU Undergraduate Research Forum with one of the groups being awarded first place in their category. In addition, other undergraduate students have helped out with powerpoint presentations and attended the MidWest Sport Psychology Conference in Feb. 2012. Finally, 3 of these students have published papers in high-tiered journals with one addition student also part of a publication which is currently under review.

Project outcomes and student roles in outcomes

This project will lead to several publications, presentations, and future external grants. Students will be required to present these findings at the Undergraduate Research Forum at MSU in April 2014 as well as work on publications. In addition to the aforementioned responsibilities, these students will have the opportunity to refine and develop their own research questions; obtain experience in data collection, entry and analysis; and given the chance to draw their own conclusions based on our findings. I have always welcomed the idea of getting more undergraduate students involved in the research process, as I think it is a necessity in higher education. Moreover, the experiences that I can provide undergraduates will hopefully lead to more students wanting to help in the future and even the possibility of recruiting these undergraduate students to continue their study in my lab for their graduate work.

Cyber Partners: Harnessing Group Dynamics to Boost Motivation to Exercise (NIH Study); Simulated Partners for Astronauts in Collaborative Exercise (SPACE) (NASA-NSBRI Study)

Investigator: Dr. Deborah Feltz, Department of Kinesiology (dfeltz@msu.edu)

Abstract

Our two research studies are designed to determine whether recently documented motivation gains in exercise groups (dyads in particular) can be enhanced by harnessing social psychological mechanisms discovered in group dynamics research. Although many exercise video games involve competition among players, few games (particularly health games) take much advantage of the potential of group dynamics to motivate play (and to achieve its associated health benefits). We are looking at two different groups for these studies: (a) general college and adult population and (b) middle-aged adults who are as physical fit as NASA's astronauts. For the general population, if people's motivation can be improved to increase the intensity and duration of exercise by participating with a partner, they will realize better health outcomes than if they exercise alone. We are using software to create a computerized exercise partner that incorporates the essential features of effective partners. For the middle-aged physically fit adults, the rationale is to eventually help astronauts who need to maintain an exercise regimen to minimize bone and muscle loss (especially from hips, lower backs, and lower limbs) during long-duration space missions. High exercise intensity is needed to maximize improvements in aerobic fitness, cardiovascular health and improving muscle mass, strength, and balance.

We have just received one grant from NASA/National Space Biomedical Institute for a 3-year project involving long-term exercising and one grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for a 2-year project involving single-session and short-term exercise. Data collection is a large portion of these projects. We need assistants to help with data collecting and coding, laboratory management, and to assist as experimenters. Over the next 3 years, our research team faces a tough challenge in completing the experiments, particularly in finding enough personnel to run the labs and collect data from two extensive projects. We will be recruiting college students and adults from the community for both projects. Our team would benefit greatly from the addition of bright, enthusiastic students interested in the fields of health, fitness, or social psychology, and who want hands-on participation in experimental research. Undergraduate students will be supervised by faculty and the graduate students on the research team. Student learning and contribution will be assessed and evaluated based on several criteria including (a) proficiency in experimental procedures as indicated by their ability to perform experiments and manage laboratory operations, (b) contribution to group discussion during laboratory meetings, and (c) their competence in designing and giving scholarly presentations.

Prior experience in directing undergraduates:

I have directed several undergraduates in my career. My research assistants and I have also directed several undergraduates over the past 4 years on numerous projects, all of which have led to research presentations at the annual undergraduate research fair (some supported by college funding, others not).

Intended outcomes and student presentations:

These projects will lead to several scholarly publications as well as presentations at various conferences, including the North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity (NASPSPA) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Under my guidance and the graduate students on our research team, the undergraduate students will present at the Midwest Sport and Exercise Psychology Symposium (MSEPS) in the spring semester. Students will also present preliminary data at the 2014 Michigan State University Undergraduate Research Forum (UURAF). Students should understand that a UURAF presentation is an expectation.

"RU Connected"? A Collaborative Project Between MSU Researchers and an Urban Afterschool Program (Racquet Up Detroit) to Investigate the Effects of a Summer Technology Camp for Middle School Youth

Investigator: Dr. Susan Florio-Ruane, Department of Teacher Education (susanfr@msu.edu)

Abstract

This research project partners Michigan State University (MSU) educational researchers with an established inner city afterschool program, Racquet Up Detroit (RUD), to study the learning of middle school students enrolled a summer technology camp (RUConnected). The purpose of the research is to inform RUD's decision-making about future integration of technology and new literacies curriculum into its year-round programming. MSU and RUD already share a multi-year partnership focused on the literacy development of 40 eighth graders from one neighborhood and two schools in northwest Detroit. The youngsters joined RUD as fifth graders and have committed to ongoing participation through grade twelve. RUD weaves together sport, literacy, technology, mentoring, and community service. The summer technology camp ("RU Connected") was held in July 2013. It focused on using web-based tools and resources to develop online research skills, encourage youngsters to think creatively, and use higher-order thinking. This research project uses quantitative and qualitative data to study the impact of the 2013 summer camp on youngsters' technology-related knowledge and skills and their general motivation to read and write. Undergraduate research assistants will help the research team (comprised of one Professor and two advanced PhD students from the MSU College of Education) to investigate youngsters' learning by analyzing data gathered from the camp participants in July through September. The undergraduate research assistants will initially work closely with the experienced researchers, who will model research techniques and support the undergraduates' learning by working side-by-side with them. The undergraduate research assistants will observe youngsters working at the computer learn and learn to track their understanding with specialized software that documents youngsters' talk as well as their work on the computer screen. They will also learn to analyze transcripts of one-on-one interviews already conducted with youngsters about their experiences in the camp. They will also analyze the results of a computer use survey and examine the websites youngsters created during the camp. By winter break, the undergraduate research assistants will begin to proceed more independently. At this time, with supervision, they will work to learn to frame a research question of their own about the youngsters' learning and pursue it in data analysis. They will report their ongoing analysis at bi-weekly research meetings. They will learn to prepare a report their research to a scholarly audience in the form of a research poster. The poster will be presented at a professional conference in the Spring semester, at which the entire research team will participate. Subsequently, the undergraduate research assistants will refine their poster and also co-author a short report of their research to be included in the wider project's final report to RUD. Their research poster will be presented at the University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (URRAF) at MSU in April.

Supervision of the Undergraduate Research Assistants

The undergraduate researchers will be supervised by MSU Professor Susan Florio-Ruane, who has prior experience in undergraduate in research in research on written literacy and in studies of adult and youth book clubs. Additionally co-supervisors will be PhD students in Educational Psychology and Special Education who has have experience supervising undergraduate research.

Video Analysis and Dissemination of Best Pedagogical Practices

Investigators: Drs. Sarah Jardeleza (sarahejw@msu.edu) and Rebecca Matz (matz@msu.edu)

Abstract:

Small classrooms are conducive to using best practices in teaching and learning, but this is inhibited in large gateway courses due to space, resources, and faculty professional development. Fortunately, MSU is home to a number of science faculty who use evidence-based pedagogical practices in their large gateway courses. We will address aspects of the resource and faculty professional development challenges by creating a repository of video evidence of these faculty to model and improve adoption of best teaching and learning practices in gateway science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses. MSU is currently working towards reform of teaching and learning in all gateway STEM courses in an effort to drive institutional change at MSU.

An undergraduate research assistant working on this project would:

  • video record three to four classroom meetings per week in various STEM courses;
  • be trained to use established observational coding schemes;
  • tag and upload video vignettes to a website;
  • discuss the video contents and coding schemes with other project members;
  • use inductive research strategies to develop research questions related to the project;
  • present their work in either oral or poster format on Friday, April 4th at the Spring 2014 MSU University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF; http://urca.msu.edu/uuraf/).

This project is led by Asst. Profs. Sarah Jardeleza and Rebecca Matz and is part of a broad change effort in STEM gateway courses. Much of Drs. Jardeleza and Matzes' work focuses specifically on the biological sciences as part of the Biology Initiative, but this project would address teaching and learning in biology, chemistry, physics, and potentially other gateway STEM courses. The undergraduates involved in this project will work as a part of the Biology Initiative effort as well as the CREATE for STEM Institute research community, and will be supervised by Drs. Jardeleza and Matz. Dr. Jardeleza has mentored more than ten undergraduate students in their research projects, and Dr. Matz has mentored three students.

Criterion and Convergent Validity of Physical Activity Measurement Modalities During Pregnancy

Investigator: Dr. James Pivarnik, Department of Kinesiology (jimpiv@msu.edu)

Abstract

Our previous work has shown that a variety of physical activity measurement devices show modest to good reliability during pregnancy. However, preliminary results indicate that three devices (pedometer, survey, armband accelerometer) show very poor convergent (agreement) validity. Our next step is to expand this research in two ways: First, we will now include the Actigraph Accelerometer as a criterion measure, to determine agreement between it, and other devices. Second, we will utilize the "pedometer function" of the armband accelerometer to determine whether it agrees with a more traditionally worn pedometer. Results from this study will help inform researchers so that they might choose the most effective physical activity measurement devices for various research protocols during pregnancy.

We plan to have these results presented (by the student) at regional and state meetings, as well as UURAF. We will also combine these data to publish all our recent results from these studies. Finally, our results will form the background information needed for a competitive grant proposal. The student will be a part of publication writing and grant writing, and will present the data at three venues.

The Effects of Different Aspects of Physical Activity on Children with ADHD

Investigator: Dr. Matthew B. Pontifex, Department of Kinesiology (pontifex@msu.edu)

Abstract

Although pharmacological treatments have largely been found effective in the short-term management of developmental neurobehavioral disorders such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), concerns over the long-term implications of psychostimulant use have led a push for alternative, non-pharmaceutical treatment options for children with ADHD. As a growing body of evidence has observed a beneficial relationship between physical activity and cognitive health in preadolescent children; one such option may be single bouts of exercise. That is, similar to the way in which a dose of medication is administered, physical activity can be engaged in through single acute bouts of exercise. Previous research in healthy children has demonstrated that participation in a single bout of structured physical activities lasting at least 20 minutes is beneficial for various aspects of cognition including improved cognitive function (i.e., attention, memory, cognitive control) and scholastic achievement (i.e., reading comprehension, mathematics), regardless of basal fitness or body composition. However, in order to advocate for physical activity as a potential tool in the treatment of ADHD, it is necessary to elucidate the specific conditions and characteristics of physical activity that result in the greatest enhancements in cognitive function and scholastic performance in children with ADHD – relative to healthy children. In particular, minimal evidence exists to determine the effects of different types of exercise (e.g., aerobic, strength, coordinative) on cognitive and brain health, as the vast majority of research has focused exclusively on aerobic forms of exercise. Accordingly, the purpose of this investigation is to provide evidence-based recommendations to influence educational and clinical policies to support the implementation of such physical activity opportunities during the school day to improve cognitive health, scholastic achievement, and reduce ADHD related symptomologies. Undergraduate research assistants will be involved in all phases of this research project; ranging from collection of electroencephalographic brain activity to administration of cognitive test batteries and supervision of various exercise protocols in children with ADHD under the direct supervision of Matthew B. Pontifex, Ph.D. These students will also have the opportunity to participate in the processing, reduction, and analysis of these data in preparation for the presentation and publication of the results of this investigation.

Prior Experience Directing Undergraduate Studies in Research Activities

Over the past two years I have supervised 14 undergraduate students, and currently have 10 undergraduate research assistants working in my laboratory in various capacities. Three of these students are currently engaged in undergraduate research to satisfy fieldwork (KIN494) or independent study (KIN490) coursework. One of these students is currently engaged in undergraduate research as a Professorial Assistant. Finally, the remaining students currently volunteer their time to gain research experience. A former undergraduate in Kinesiology – now in physical therapy school at Northwestern University, received funding last year to work in my laboratory which resulted in her earning authorship on an abstract presented at the American College of Sports Medicine and a now submitted manuscript. Further, her poster presentation at the University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF) was awarded first place and her efforts within the research lab also contributed to her being awarded the Department of Kinesiology Community Service Award.

Projects Intended Outcome and How Students Will Contribute To That Outcome

Having had the opportunity to engage in undergraduate research as a student myself, I have a deep appreciation for the enrichment that such participation provides. As noted above, undergraduate research assistants will be involved in all phases of this research project including participation in the processing, reduction, and analysis of these data. Thus, undergraduate research assistants in my laboratory have the opportunity to take on leadership roles and independence within their various projects. All projects conducted within my laboratory are oriented towards future presentation and publication of the research findings. Students who provide substantial contribution to the project beyond that of data collection will also have the opportunity to be authored on publications arising out of the project. Students will also have the opportunity to present the findings of their research in local forums such as the MSU University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum as well as national forums such as the Midwest American College of Sports Medicine meeting. A further goal of this project is to provide pilot data in support of a larger NIH grant aimed at further understanding the nature of the effects of exercise on cognition in school aged children, thus undergraduate assistants will also have the opportunity to engage in further research projects and potentially step into the role of a graduate research assistant in the laboratory.

The Work Students Will be Able to Present at the MSU University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF) in the Spring

This project allows for a substantial body of data to be collected, rendering opportunities for multiple independent presentations/publications aimed within the primary focus of the effect of single bouts of exercise on cognition in children with ADHD.

Smaller Learning Communities (SLCs)

Investigators: Dr. BetsAnn Smith (bas@msu.edu) and Dr. Susan Printy (sprinty@msu.edu), Department of Educational Administration

Abstract

Professors BetsAnn Smith and Susan Printy seek a research assistant to work with them examining data from a longitudinal study of Michigan high schools developing smaller learning communities (SLCs). Data include teacher and student surveys, teacher logs of individual and collaborative learning activities, summarized interviews, annual project reports and student outcome measures. We are exploring several questions, including:

  • How organizational learning behaviors drive high impact SLC program implementation
  • What organizational learning occurs in network settings (versus school settings)
  • How race, class and district governance arrangements influence organizational learning and SLC implementation.

Desirable skills and orientations for this work include:

  • Interest in secondary school reform and improvement
  • Willingness to study and grasp core ideas of organizational learning theory
  • Basic data analysis skills –working with excel or other software, producing data tables and summaries
  • Analysis skills for coding interviews and field
  • Writing skills

In exchange for assistance, we offer the Research Assistant (RA) supports for developing a University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF) conference paper or other product from this work, or to draw on study data to develop a topic of personal interest. Training and support for core work tasks will be provided, and we are willing to mentor the growth and interests of the RA through opportunities present in the College, local conference and our professional networks.

We seek to hire an RA for 80-100 hours of work spread across fall term, paid at competitive undergrad RA rates.

Undergraduate Research 2012-2013

An Examination of Adolescents' Perceptions of their School Culture and Climate and the Effects on Academic Engagement

Investigator: Dr. Dorinda J. Carter Andrews (dcarter@msu.edu)

Abstract
The purpose of this study is to examine middle and high school students' perceptions of their school experiences across a number of variables. Specifically, this study explores differences, if any, in how adolescents of various racial, gender, and social class backgrounds view their school experiences across several domains, and how these perceptions might shape student academic engagement in school. In February 2012, approximately 1,500 students in one suburban, predominantly White (approximately 60% white student population) school district completed a School Culture and Climate survey constructed by the Principal Investigator. The survey was designed to solicit student attitudes about several topics: a) school culture and climate; b) experiences with discrimination; c) perceptions of teachers; d) curriculum and extracurricular activities; e) relationships with adults; f) relationships with peers; g) engagement in school; and, h) enjoyment of schoolwork. Responses for Likert Scale items on the survey primarily ranged from Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree (1=Strongly Disagree; 2=Disagree; 3=Neither; 4=Somewhat Agree; 5=Strongly Agree). There were also two open-ended responses on the survey.

Research activities for undergraduate assistants will include survey data entry into an Excel file, statistical analysis in SPSS (with assistance from faculty mentor), analysis of student quotes, and report writing for presentation to the district's School Board and building principals (for the middle and high school). Undergraduate research assistants will attend weekly research team meetings with Dr. Carter and a postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Christy Byrd to examine research progress and developing analyses. Also, students will present themes from the research at the MSU University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum in spring 2013 – related to adolescents' perceptions of their school culture and climate and the effects on their academic engagement. Students' learning from their participation with this research will be assessed on a weekly basis; they will submit critical reflections on a regular basis regarding the skills they are obtaining by engaging in qualitative and quantitative research and the issues with which they are grappling. At the end of the year, Dr. Carter asks all research team members to submit a reflective memorandum regarding their experiences working on the research team, the benefits and challenges, and skills gained.

Virtual Exercise Buddies in Health Games

Investigator: Dr. Deborah Feltz (dfeltz@msu.edu)

Abstract
Our research is designed to determine whether recently documented motivation gains in task groups (dyads in particular) can be harnessed to improve people's motivation in exercise video games using a virtual partner. If people's motivation can be improved to increase the intensity and duration of exercise by participating with such a partner, they will realize better health outcomes than if they exercise alone. None of the extant health games (e.g., Wii Fit, XaviX J-Pad, PS-2's Eye Toy: Kinetic) incorporate the critical design features suggested by our theory (viz. immediate feedback on performance of one or more other players, the ability to control the discrepancy in abilities of players, and most importantly, the indispensibility of individual player effort for determining group outcomes). Expanding on a recent grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, where we documented these motivation effects, we have begun to develop the software to create a computerized exercise partner that incorporates the essential features of effective exercise partners. This fall, we will begin to test the design features within an exercise video game to determine the most effective features for enhancing motivation to exercise and to what extent virtual partners enhance participants' enjoyment and interest in continuing the game, self-efficacy, and intention to exercise in the future. Data collection will be a large portion of this part of the project. Our team would benefit greatly from the addition of bright and enthusiastic students interested in the fields of health, fitness or social psychology and who want hands-on participation in experimental research. Students will be supervised by Dr. Feltz and her graduate student research team. Students who participate will be expected to present at the MSU Undergraduate Research Forum (URRAF) in the spring 2013. Students can be involved in presentations and possibly publications, depending on the level of their contributions.

Coding Classroom Processes in Middle School Algebra

Investigator: Dr. Robert Floden (floden@msu.edu)

Abstract
As part of a research study to examine the connections between classroom processes and student learning in middle school algebra, project members of the Algebra Teaching Study have been developing procedures for systematic coding of video recordings of classrooms. The overall purpose of the study is to explore two questions:

  1. What instructional practices are frequently used by teachers judged to be doing an exceptional job of helping students to develop proficiency in solving word problems?
  2. What analytic procedures can be developed and used to characterize these promising teaching practices, with low enough cost so that connections between teaching and learning can be examined for a large number of classrooms?

More information about the overall project can be found at: http://ats.berkeley.edu.

As part of this research, the project team wishes to code at least 40 algebra lessons, using the coding scheme developed by the project, and possibly also using coding schemes developed by other researchers.

For this undergraduate research opportunity, students will:

  • be trained to use the observational coding schemes,
  • code 20 – 30 video recordings of algebra teaching
  • discuss the results of their coding with other project members

Undergraduates who participate in the project will use the results of their work, as well as results from the project as a whole, in preparing a presentation for the Spring 2013 University Undergraduate Research Forum.

The project is led by Prof. Robert Floden, who is leading a team that includes three doctoral students at MSU, and is collaborating with a team of faculty and doctoral students at the University of California – Berkeley. The undergraduates will be working as part of the MSU project team, which is supervised by Professor Floden.

Scaling Up a Promising Approach to Narrowing the SES Achievement Gap in Primary-Grade Social Studies and Content Literacy

Investigators: Dr. Anne-Lise Halvorsen (annelise@msu.edu) and Dr. Nell K. Duke (University of Michigan)

Abstract
This three-year project, funded by the Spencer Foundation, involves developing and assessing the effectiveness of a project-based, interdisciplinary (social studies and content area literacy) second-grade curriculum for low-socioeconomic students. In this year (2012-13), the project team will revise two curriculum projects and accompanying assessments (one for economics/content area literacy and one for civics/content area literacy) and develop two projects and accompanying assessments (one for history/content area literacy; one for geography/content area literacy). These projects will be grounded in the Common Core State Standards for literacy and the Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations for social studies. In this year, we will also pilot the history and geography curricula in four second-grade classrooms (pilot data will include classroom observations, interviews with the teachers, and possibly pre- and post-assessments) as well as begin recruiting teachers for participation in Year 2 of the project (2013-2014). The undergraduate student working on the project would assist by helping to locate and organize resources for teaching the projects and by helping to design the projects. The student would also observe the teachers implementing the curriculum, observe children's responses to it, and possibly administer assessments to students. The student would be working with a team led by two faculty members (Nell K. Duke at University of Michigan and Anne-Lise Halvorsen at MSU), a former classroom teacher, and two doctoral students. We will meet weekly, days/times TBD, as a team. At these meetings and via e-mail, tasks for the undergraduate student will be identified.

The intended outcome of the project is a project-based, interdisciplinary second-grade curriculum and one or more publications about the promise of that curriculum for helping narrow the achievement gap in social studies and content area literacy. Depending on the extent of the student's involvement (for example, if he or she continued on the projects in Year 2 and/or Year 3), he or she may be a co-author on project publications. I would work with the student to identify an interest within the project she/he could take the lead in pursuing as part of the project and develop a poster and presentation about that for the MSU University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF). For example, the student may wish to explore second-grade students' challenges with historical, geographic, or content area literacy concepts or teachers' experiences implementing project-based curricula.

Making Sense of School Accountability Report Cards

Investigator: Dr. Rebecca Jacobsen (rjacobs@msu.edu)

Abstract
With the rapid evolution of performance data for school accountability and public use, this project seeks to understand whether and how information training sessions help parents use school report card data. The Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence (PCAE), a not-for-profit group in Kentucky, is hosting parent training meetings throughout Kentucky to educate parents and interested community members about the forthcoming changes to the state school report cards. Kentucky has created a new format for the school report cards and some principals are concerned that parents may misunderstand the data and falsely believe their schools declined in performance. This project will investigate 1) how effectively the public information campaign in Kentucky reaches the broader public, 2) the goals and motivation behind the public information campaign efforts, and 3) the effectiveness of the public information campaign overall. Data will be collected at these meetings throughout the fall and then analyzed in the winter and spring.

Students will be fully trained by Dr Jacobsen to participate in the following research activities.

  1. Survey data entry and organization (Excel)
  2. Training on how to code transcripts interviews/focus groups and then coding and entry into computer program (N'Vivo software)
  3. Analysis of Data
  4. Assisting Dr Jacobsen to coordinate with the PCAE in Kentucky
  5. Possible travel to Kentucky to assist with data collection in late October
  6. Conduct background research on "Public Information Campaigns"
  7. Web searches of the Kentucky State Department of Education website

Students will be expected to participate in URAFF or the AERA Undergraduate Research Training Program. Dr Jacobsen will provide support and assistance for this.

Students do not need to have prior experience in research, but should be motivated and interested in the topic of how we use test score data to hold schools and teachers accountable for student performance. A strong applicant will be reliable, organized, able to complete tasks in a timely fashion and available to work at Erickson Hall approximately 6 hours per week. The undergraduate research assistants would be joining Dr Jacobsen and two graduate students on this project. Ability to work as a team is a must!

A Pilot Study on Maternal Lipids during Pregnancy and Birth Outcomes

Investigator: Dr. Lanay M. Mudd (mudd@msu.edu)

Abstract
This project will involve undergraduate research assistants in a study of the effects of maternal metabolic health during pregnancy on birth outcomes like preterm delivery and birth weight. Results from this study will shed new light on how changes in lipid profiles during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy may influence birth outcomes. This project will also collect information on physical activity during pregnancy so results will be able to evaluate how physical activity may influence maternal lipids and birth outcomes as well. Students will assist Assistant Professor Lanay Mudd and Sparrow OB/GYN Resident Caitlin Kelly in participant recruitment/follow-up, data collection, reduction and management. Dr. Mudd will oversee all students and will help them develop their own research question of interest within the larger project. It is expected that undergraduate students will present their findings at the MSU University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF), and other professional venues, as well as participate in manuscript writing.

The proposed project will collect a wide range of data that can be used for multiple presentations. Students will be given an opportunity to identify the research question they are most interested in and develop a research presentation based on that question. For example, students might decide to present sociodemographic influences on maternal lipid levels during pregnancy, sociodemographic influences on physical activity levels during pregnancy, relations between physical activity and lipids during pregnancy, or many other topics.

Reliability and Validity of Physical Activity Measurement in Pregnant Women and The Role of Physical Activity and Incidence of Miscarriage

Investigator: Dr. James Pivarnik (jimpiv@msu.edu)

Abstract
We will involve our undergraduate research assistant primarily in two projects during 2012-2013. The first project is an ongoing study of the reliability and validity of physical activity measurement in pregnant women, using the latest technology available. Of particular interest at this time is determining our ability to evaluate activities of daily living (often ignored in exercise studies) in pregnant women, as they may contribute significantly to the overall role of physical activity on the health of the maternal-fetal unit. Results from this study will be important to researchers trying to determine (accurately) the amount and type of physical activity that is most beneficial for pregnancy and birth outcomes. The student will assist in all aspects of participant recruitment and follow-up, data collection, reduction, and management. The second project is a study of the role of physical activity and incidence of miscarriage. We will be using the ARCH (Archive for Research on Child Health) database, which is housed in the Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics (Dr. Pivarnik has a joint appointment in this Department). This is an ongoing study in an area that is significantly understudied. The beauty of this design is that it is prospective, which will eliminate any recall bias on the part of the study participants (since physical activity behavior is measured prior to miscarriage). Both projects will be overseen by Professor Jim Pivarnik of the Department of Kinesiology. Our undergraduate research assistant will present findings from both projects at the Michigan American College of Sports Medicine meeting, the MSU University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF), and other academic venues, as well as participate in abstract and manuscript writing.

Greater Integrity of Learning, Information Consolidation, and Retrieval as a Function of Aerobic Fitness

Investigator: Dr. Matthew B. Pontifex (pontifex@msu.edu)

Abstract
Research at the intersection of cognitive neuroscience and kinesiology has flourished over the past several decades, with a growing body of evidence demonstrating that physically active behaviors, or the lack thereof, influence the neural systems underlying aspects of cognition. A preponderance of research in this area has focused on how health-oriented behaviors such as physical activity can mitigate age-related cognitive decline, with evidence indicating that chronic participation in aerobic exercise may ameliorate, or protect against, declines in the structure and function of neural tissues associated with adult aging (Colcombe et al., 2004, Cotman & Engesser-Cesar, 2002; Colcombe & Kramer, 2003; Hillman, Erickson, & Kramer, 2008; Hillman et al., 2006; Kramer & Erickson, 2007). Recently, however, a paradigm shift in the field has occurred redirecting focus towards developmental neurocognition in school-aged children. In part, this shift has occurred as a result of physical activity trends indicating that children are growing increasingly sedentary and unfit, coupled with concomitant increases in the prevalence of cardiovascular disease, colon cancer, and type-2 diabetes among industrialized societies (Department of Health and Human Services & Department of Education, 2000). Thus, for the first time in United States history, younger generations may live less healthy and have shorter lives than their parents (Fontaine et al., 2003; Olshansky et al., 2005). Also of concern is the growing trend of de-valuing the importance of physical activity during the school day among educational institutions, through the reduction or elimination of physical activity opportunities in school (Juster, Stafford, & Ono, 2004). The implication of these policies has contributed to the declining physical health that has been observed in American youth. However, far less understood are the implications of such policies and lifestyle choices for the trajectories of cognitive and brain development. Accordingly, this proposal seeks to investigate how aerobic fitness may relate to the core process of learning; with a particular focus on memory encoding, consolidation, and retrieval. To assess the relation between aerobic fitness and memory; in collaboration with Dr. Kim Fenn in the Department of Psychology at Michigan State University, a cross-sectional sample of undergraduate students will be recruited to participate in an experimental protocol lasting a total of three days. On the first day, memory encoding will be probed by assessing participants as they are trained on a novel task. Twenty-four hours later, participants return to the laboratory and will have their memory consolidation and retrieval assessed in response to the same novel task. Finally, on the last day of testing, participants will have their cardiorespiratory fitness assessed. The significance of this proposal lies in demonstrating the efficacy of chronic physical activity participation for cognitive health and function. The potential knowledge gained from such an investigation may inform administrators and other policy makers about the importance of exercise for optimal scholastic performance, and impact educational practices aimed at improving cognitive health and learning.

Undergraduate research assistants will be involved in all phases of this research project; ranging from administering neuropsychological assessments, cognitive test batteries, and cardiorespiratory fitness tests under the direct supervision of Dr. Matthew B. Pontifex, Ph.D. These students will also have the opportunity to participate in the processing, reduction, and analysis of these data in preparation for the presentation and publication of the results of this investigation.

Students who provide substantial contribution to the project beyond that of data collection will also have the opportunity to be authored on publications arising out of the project. Students will also have the opportunity to present the findings of their research in local forums such as the MSU University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF) as well as national forums such as the Midwest American College of Sports Medicine meeting. A further goal of this project is to provide pilot data in support of a larger NIH grant aimed as investigating these relationships in school aged children, thus undergraduate assistants will also have the opportunity to engage in further research projects and potentially step into the role of a graduate research assistant in the laboratory.

This project allows for a substantial body of data to be collected, rendering opportunities for multiple independent presentations/publications aimed within the primary focus of the relation between fitness and memory. These data may also allow for further data mining to assess how memory might also relate to components of body composition.

College Student Success

Investigator: Dr. Kristen Renn (renn@msu.edu)

Abstract
This mixed-methods study will identify diverse Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) students' perceptions of campus support for their success in college. There is widespread evidence that LGBT college students face hostile campus climates (Rankin, Weber, Blumenfeld, & Frazer, 2010), and empirical evidence shows that hostile climates negatively affect college student success (Hurtado, Griffin, Arellano, & Cuellar, 2008). Yet, many students report that college offers a less homophobic environment than high school and that they waited until they came to college to express their LGBT identity publicly (Stevens, 2004; Walls, Kane, & Wisneski, 2010). Little is known about what supportive factors in the college environment contribute to LGBT student success, and the current body research on LGBT college students cannot support generalizable claims. This study is the first step in creating a methodologically sound national study of LGBT college student success.

The study will consist of an online survey and individual interviews. In February 2013, MSU will host the annual Midwest Bisexual, Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, and Allies College Conference (MBLGTACC). Nearly 2000 students from all types of postsecondary institutions across the Midwest typically attend this annual event. I am putting together a team of graduate and undergraduate researchers, and the conference organizers have agreed to our involvement. Specifically, we will conduct an online survey of conference participants and interview a purposeful sample of 35-40 students. Undergraduate researchers on the team will assist with developing and testing the survey, recruiting survey participants at the conference, interviewing (possibly in pairs with other researchers), transcribing interviews, and analyzing survey and interview data.

Preliminary survey results should be ready for presentation at URRAF. It is possible that some interview results may also be ready, but that is less certain.

College Resolution in Preschool

Investigator: Dr. Cary Roseth (croseth@msu.edu)

Abstract
Preschoolers' peer relations, like all social relations, often involve conflict. Learning to resolve such conflict constructively is an important developmental process, yet it remains unclear how preschoolers learn conflict resolution. In fact, past research suggests that teacher intervention may disrupt natural conflict resolution processes in which preschoolers reconcile and continue playing together. The purpose of the Conflict Resolution in Preschool study is to clarify these issues and for the past four years has involved undergraduate RAs. In 2008-2009, undergraduate RAs videotaped 122 Head Start preschoolers during their free play across 8 weeks of school. And, for the past three years (i.e., 2009-2012), undergraduate RAs have worked directly with me and several graduate students in coding these videos for prosocial and coercive behavior patterns, post-conflict conciliatory behaviors, and teacher intervention. The goal this year is to complete video coding and present our findings at MSU's University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF). Undergraduate RAs involved in our project have presented research for four consecutive years and, in 2012, received a first place prize. This project requires on-going and immediate feedback on students' learning and contributions. Videotape coding requires that undergraduate RAs become familiar with fundamental aspects of measurement, including operationalizing behavior and issues of validity and reliability. I find that coding naturalistic behaviors is particularly challenging and requires constant clarification of the behavioral categories and the underlying psychological processes of interest to our research. Our undergraduate students have made great progress in understanding and contributing to this work. They not only use the work to ask questions, they have made significant contributions to our lab through suggestions and valuable input.

Undergraduate Research 2011-2012

Exploring Teachers' Pedagogical Content Knowledge through Enactments of a Newton's Third Law Demonstration

Faculty Researcher: Dr. Alicia Alonzo

Department of Teacher Education

Abstract
Efforts to move beyond theoretical considerations of pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) and to support teachers' development of PCK depend upon methods for capturing this often tacit form of teachers' knowledge. Because PCK is topic-specific and embedded in how particular content is taught, this study focuses on teachers' enactment of a specific demonstration that is typically used to illustrate Newton's third law. We examined videos of classroom instruction and interviews with teachers and students to explore variations in classroom enactments of this demonstration. Rather than viewing PCK as a "bag of tricks" associated with particular concepts, this study allows us to begin to articulate a richer picture for the knowledge underlying the classroom use of demonstrations.

An Examination of Racial and Achievement Self-Conceptions of Black Studentsin Urban High Schools

Faculty Researcher: Dr. Dorinda Carter Andrews

Department of Teacher Education

Abstract
This study is an exploration of how the racial and achievement self-concepts of high-achieving African American urban adolescents in Detroit interact with individual, environmental, institutional, and societal factors that affect achievement and shape students' attitudes and beliefs about schooling and subsequent school behaviors. Data collection procedures included student completion of the Multidimensional Inventory of Black Identity-Teen, five focus group interviews, and student completion of the African American Students Schooling Experiences High School Survey. Students hired to work on this project will engage in a range of research activities including, (a) transcribing and coding focus group data; (b) conducting basic statistical analysis of scale and survey data; (x) writing reports of findings based on data analysis; and, (d) conducting a literature review. Undergraduate students will work on a research team including Dr. Carter and 1-2 graduate students in the College of Education.

Critical Consciousness Measure Validation and Postsecondary Persistence among Lower-Income Youth

Faculty Researcher: Dr. Matt Diemer

Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education

Project One: Critical Consciousness Measure Validation
Critical consciousness refers to how marginalized people develop a critical analysis of social injustices and become motivated to change those inequities via individual or collective action. Scholars across a variety of disciplines study critical consciousness, yet they use a variety of proxy measures, large scale survey datasets, or qualitative methods to do so. These disparate approaches hamper the unification and advancement of critical consciousness study, as different scholars use different terms to study ostensibly the same construct. A quantitative measure has the potential to unify and advance these diverse scholarly strands. This project therefore aims to validate a measure of critical consciousness, guided by multidisciplinary scholarship and best practices in instrument development. During the 2010-2011 academic year, my research team (including an undergraduate RA) obtained human subjects approval from MSU and two school districts, collected data, and have begun to carry out preliminary analyses of these data. The next stage in the measure validation process will be to finalize data collection, finalize analyses of these data, and move this project to presentations at scholarly meetings and to publication. In the coming year, I will complete the data collection process by receiving data from approximately 450 participants via a long-standing collaboration with a faculty member at another university. Using advanced statistical techniques, we will study how well this scale measures critical consciousness in the coming year.

Project Two: Postsecondary Persistence among Lower-Income Youth
This second project, contingent on a pending grant, examines how different people contribute to lower-income youth being able to stay in college until they receive their desired degree. If funded, this project would commence during the Spring semester. My research team will be involved in reviewing relevant literature, assisting with data cleaning and analyses, and writing.

Anticipated Roles and Responsibilities
Undergraduate RAs would work directly with me and my research lab, consisting of a team of advanced graduate students who are at different points in their training. Undergraduate RAs would work on reading and reviewing journal articles and books related to Project One and Project Two, discuss what they are reading with the research lab, gain hands-on experience managing large datasets with a number of variables, work with advanced graduate students and with me on data analyses, and understand the scholarly presentation and publication process. My expectation is that students (provided they made the necessary contribution) could receive co-authorship on scholarly presentations and/or papers stemming from this research. I also expect that undergraduate RAs would present their work at the Spring University Undergraduate Research Forum, such as a portion of this larger project of particular interest to the student.

Research position(s) may be available for one or more undergraduate students (FS11-SS12); contact Dr. Diemer at diemermmsu.edu.

Creating Interdisciplinary Curriculum for Pre-Kindergarten Students: The Connect4Learning Project

Faculty Researcher: Dr. Nell K. Duke

Department of Teacher Education

Abstract
This project, funded by the National Science Foundation, involves developing an interdisciplinary pre-kindergarten curriculum that addresses mathematics, science, literacy, and social-emotional development. In this year (2011-12), four teachers working with at-risk pre-kindergarten children will pilot five of the six units of the curriculum. The undergraduate student working on the project would assist these teachers by helping to locate, organize, and deliver materials they need for teaching. The student would also observe the teachers implementing the curriculum, observe children's responses to it, and talk informally with children to gain a sense of the degree to which they are meeting the objectives of the curriculum. The student would be working with a team led by Professor Nell Duke and including four doctoral student research assistants. We will meet weekly, on Fridays, both as a team and with the participating teachers. At these meetings and via email, tasks for the undergraduate student will be identified, and the students' observations from the classroom debriefed.

Research position(s) may be available for one or more undergraduate students (FS11-SS12); contact Dr. Duke at nkduke@msu.edu.

An Examination of Social-Psychological Principles of Motivation to Increase Free-Living Physical Activity

Faculty Researcher: Dr. Deborah Feltz

Department of Kinesiology

Abstract
The investigators in this project are interested in social influences on motivation and exercise behavior and have used exercise video games to examine the social psychological phenomena involved in such behavior. Much of our work over the past two years has examined motivation during exercise under laboratory conditions. The purpose of the current research project is to examine social psychological principles of motivation under free-living conditions. Second, we will examine the utility of such principles in increasing free-living physical activity among college students. Motivation will be defined in terms of both intensity (i.e. effort/calories burned) and direction (i.e. choice of activity). We will use portable monitoring devices (Sensewear armbands; http://sensewear.bodymedia.com/) to assess free-living physical activity over the course of an 8-week physical activity program. Research assistants will help with data collection and management, including assistance in analysis. Data collection will involve direct contact with the participants and requires basic computer skills. Student learning and contribution will be assessed and evaluated based on several criteria including 1) proficiency in experimental procedures as indicated by their ability to perform experiments and manage laboratory operations, 2) the quality and content of their laboratory notebook, 3) contribution to group discussion during laboratory meetings and 4) their competence in designing scholarly presentations. Contribution will be assessed by fulfilling the required 10 hours/wk. Mentoring will take place primarily during weekly meetings with the research team, but may also be by appointment.

Research position(s) may be available for one or more undergraduate students (FS11-SS12); contact Dr. Feltz at dfeltz@msu.edu.

Virtual History Museum

Faculty Researcher: Dr. Cindy Okolo

Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education

Abstract
We are seeking undergraduate students who can become members of our Virtual History Museum (VHM) research team. The purpose of the Virtual History Museum (VHM) is to use web-based tools and information to make history instruction more effective, interesting, and engaging for all students in the middle school grades, with a particular focus on students with learning disabilities. The VHM enables teachers to create exhibits about specific historical topics. Teachers then create inquiry-based activities that help students deepen their understanding of the topic of an exhibit. Previous research has shown that the VHM helps students improve their knowledge and understanding of historical topics, and that it is a highly motivating learning tool for all students. However, we've also seen that learning more about history does not necessarily help students reason or write in more sophisticated ways about those topics.

Therefore, we now have funding to develop strategies that will help students become better readers, writers, and thinkers as they learn history. We are developing three strands of historical learning and literacy strategies—that will be built into the VHM—to help students meet these goals. For example, the first strategy strand, Thinking Like A Historian, teaches students to view a historical topic through multiple lenses that include chronology, compare-contrast, and personal narrative, to develop a deeper understanding and to learn some of the ways in which history can be interpreted and communicated.

As a member of the VHM research team, you will assist us in developing lesson plans for the strategies we are teaching. You will help us locate historical content that can be included in these lesson plans, help us write the lessons and the resources needed to teach them, and help us develop scripts, and film videos of students using these strategies. We will pilot test the strategies that you help us develop with eight social studies teachers, and you will assist us in collecting data about the impact of these strategies on students' history knowledge, understanding, reading and writing. As a VHM team member, you will work with several faculty members and advanced doctoral students in the College of Education, computer programmers and web designers, and middle school social studies teachers and their students. You must be available for weekly VHM meetings with project staff, and the Project Director, Dr. Cindy Okolo, will directly supervise your work. Access to a car for transportation to schools is highly desirable, as is a strong background in history.

Research position(s) may be available for one or more undergraduate students (FS11-SS12); contact Dr. Okolo at okolo@msu.edu.

Short-Term and Long-Term Effectiveness of Exergames for Young Adults

Faculty Researcher: Dr. Karin Pfeiffer

Department of Kinesiology

Abstract
One of the most significant contributors to sedentary lifestyle is screen time, the amount of time spent in front of the television or computer monitor. Video games that require actual human body movements for interaction with the game interface (e.g., Dance Dance Revolution and Wii Fit) are increasingly being used to promote physical activity. Although promising evidence is available to support the use of these video games (which are called exergames) for physical activity promotion, few studies have adopted a theory-based approach to understand how these exergames work to promote physical activity. In addition, as it is not feasible to modify commercial-off-the-shelf games, researchers are also limited in their endeavors to manipulate features of these games to examine which features work better to promote physical activity. Therefore, the purpose of this proposed study is to incorporate the self-determination theory into the design of exergames as well as to empirically test designing principles (e.g., feedback for competence) for exergames. The first aim of this project is to develop and test a newly developed exergame based on the framework of self-determination theory. The second aim is to test the game as an intervention tool to increase physical activity in college students who do not meet physical activity recommendations. This investigation is a two-year grant funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. However, the funding terminates at the end of August (2011). Data collection just finished within the last two months, and there is still much work to be done with data entry, processing, and analysis.

Reliability and Validity of Physical Activity Measurement in Pregnant Women and Exercise is Medicine on Campus

Faculty Researcher: Dr. Jim Pivarnik

Department of Kinesiology

Abstract
We will involve our undergraduate research assistants primarily in two projects during 2011-2012. The first project is a study of the reliability and validity of physical activity measurement in pregnant women, using the latest technology available. Results from this study will be important to researchers trying to determine (accurately) the amount and type of physical activity that is most beneficial for pregnancy and birth outcomes. The students will assist in all aspects of participant recruitment and follow-up, data collection, reduction, and management. The second project is a new initiative designed to integrate the "Exercise is Medicine on Campus" (EIMOC) program (developed by the American College of Sports Medicine) into the already existing MSU physical activity and wellness programs for faculty, staff, and students. The students will assist in the expansion of current exercise program offerings and the development of new initiatives to coordinate MSU's efforts to improve campus physical health. The effectiveness of these efforts will be studied by surveying participants and others on campus. The undergraduate students will also assist in an EIMOC research study being developed by Kinesiology Professor Jim Pivarnik and University Physician Beth Alexander, MD. The study will be designed to test the effectiveness of MSU physicians' use of a new electronic medical record tool that promotes physical activity to their patients. All projects will be overseen by Professor Jim Pivarnik will oversee all projects. Our undergraduate research assistants will present findings from both projects at the MSU Undergraduate Research Fair, and other academic venues, as well as participate in manuscript writing.

Formative Assessment for Michigan Educators (FAME)

Faculty Researchers: Dr. Edward Roeber and Dr. Amelia Wenk Gotwals

Departments of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education and Teacher Education

Abstract
A team of researchers from CEPSE, Teacher Education, and the Education Policy Center is looking for qualified undergraduate research assistants to help implement an ambitious research agenda on how elementary and secondary classroom teachers learn to use formative-assessment practices in their classrooms. Formative assessment is defined as the use of a variety of strategies and tools to help teachers and students gauge the status of learning as instruction is occurring, permitting the adjustment of instruction to increase student achievement. Funding for the Formative Assessment for Michigan Educators (FAME) research project is provided by the Michigan Department of Education.

The FAME research effort is two-fold: 1) periodic surveys of the 60 participating learning teams and their coaches, and 2) intensive investigations of 6-8 learning teams. The overall group of 60 teams will be surveyed. From these surveys, changes in teaching and learning will be determined. In the smaller group of 6-8 teams, each learning team meeting will be observed, volunteer teachers will be observed using formative-assessment practices during instruction, these teachers will be interviewed, and students will be observed, interviewed and surveyed. In addition, the learning teams will engage with the MSU research team in trying to show the actual impact of the FAME professional development program on themselves as educators and on their students' aspirations, attitudes and achievement.

An undergraduate research assistant will be asked to help collect observational data, code and analyze survey information, and contribute to the write-ups and presentations of the results at conferences in state and out of state. A number of research reports are planned, and the undergraduate research assistant will be able to help author and present such work at a variety of locations.

At the current time, three graduate students are working on this project; no undergraduate students have been involved. However, this would be an ideal opportunity for a student considering teaching as a career to obtain relevant experience working with educators in a local school district.

Research position(s) may be available for one or more undergraduate students (FS11-SS12); contact Drs. Roeber or Gotwals at roeber@msu.edu or gotwals@msu.edu.

Conflict Resolution in Preschool

Faculty Researcher: Dr. Cary Roseth

Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education

Overview of Projects and Role of Undergraduate Researcher
The Conflict Resolution in Preschool (IRB# 08-823) project has involved undergraduate RAs for three previous years. Broadly, this study examines preschooler's peer conflict and the effects of teacher intervention. In 2008-2009, undergraduate RAs videotaped 122 preschoolers during their free play across 8 weeks of school, following individual students for 10 minutes during free play and, in the event of a peer conflict, also following both conflict participants for 5 minutes after the event. Then, for the past two years (i.e., 2009-2011), undergraduate RAs have coded these video recordings for specific behavior patterns, focusing on aggressive behaviors, post-conflict conciliatory behaviors, and the nature and effects of teacher intervention. The goal this year (i.e., 2011-2012) is to complete video coding, with undergraduate RAs working directly with me, one undergraduate professorial assistant, and two graduate students.

Project Outcomes
During the past three years, the Conflict Resolution in Preschool research project has resulted in the following presentations at MSU's Undergraduate Research Forum. The names of undergraduate RAs are underlined to highlight their involvement.

  • Guenther, K., McCarthy, A., & Roseth, C. C. (April, 2011). Teacher intervention and preschoolers' conflict resolution.
  • Guenther, K., McCarthy, A., Moulvi, H., & Roseth, C. J. (April, 2010). When winning isn't everything: The moderating effects of social ostracism on cooperation.
  • Roseth, C. J., Derian-Toth, M., Eby, C., Ochalek, C., & Schurig, A. (April, 2009). Inequity aversion in early childhood.

For this year, I have every reason to believe that we will be similarly successful in involving the undergraduate RAs in research dissemination. In fact, we may be able to accomplish more as the two undergraduates RAs (both in the College of Education) working for me last year have continued to work in for me this summer, and would like to continue working with me through the 2011-2012 academic year. The continuity of our work may make it possible to present our findings at a national undergraduate research conference.

This year, because several aspects of the coding process have already been completed, we will also be working on publications and one graduate student will use portions of the data for her dissertation. For the undergraduates, this means that during lab meetings they will also gain exposure to process of data analysis and manuscript preparation.

Assessing Learning and Contributions
This project requires on-going and immediate feedback on students' learning and contributions. Videotape coding requires that undergraduate RAs become familiar with fundamental aspects of measurement, including operationalizing behavior and issues of validity and reliability. I find that coding naturalistic behaviors is particularly challenging and requires constant clarification of the behavioral categories and the underlying psychological processes of interest to our research. As such, this work is dynamic and provides ample opportunity for asking questions, making suggestions, and becoming deeply involved in the research.

Strengthening Tomorrow's Education in Measurement [STEM]

Faculty Researcher: Dr. Jack Smith

Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education

Abstract
Evidence from national and international assessments and smaller-scale research studies have repeatedly shown that U.S. students' understanding of spatial measurement is poor, but research has not revealed the source of the problem. Work of our prior project has shown that fundamental deficits in the textbook content for measurement (content and forms of presentation) exist and are very likely one factor contributing to this problem. Our current project is deepening and reporting our prior analyses of the limitations in current elementary mathematics textbooks' treatments of length, area, and volume measurement. The current project also addresses the tasks of putting that knowledge to work to improve educational practice (curriculum and teaching). Measurement teaching and learning in the elementary grades can be very successful in highly supportive conditions (e.g., Stephan, Bowers, Cobb, & Gravemeijer, 2003), but it remains unclear what typical teachers working with commercial curricula need to know to use those materials more effectively. In addition to completing and reporting our analysis of current curricular treatment of length, area, and volume, this project is working with the authors of three elementary curricula to find ways of strengthening their existing materials. It is also developing and testing effective ways of enriching pre-service teachers' knowledge of core measurement principles, particularly using the activity of Lesson Study for measurement lessons. It is working with regional professional development staff around the state and practicing elementary teachers in these regions to improve measurement lessons and teaching, using both innovative activities and existing mathematics textbooks. Finally, it hosts annual measurement "mini-center" research meetings in the Fall to bring together the major U.S. research and development scholars and projects for sustained interaction, innovation, and collaboration.

Two undergraduate research assistants [URAs] are currently playing important roles in this project, principally in coding the volume measurement content in curriculum materials. In this work, they play identical roles to project graduate students and the PI. They also participate all problem-solving work related to this coding, e.g., optimizing our coding scheme for maximum content coverage and reliability. Two different URAs worked for the previous project. The nature of our curriculum-based work allows for the deep engagement of serious undergraduate who possess the requisite mathematical knowledge. Recruitment and selection of new URAs will follow past processes that have been productive: (1) recommendations from instructors of relevant classes (e.g., MTH 201, 202, TE 150 math-majors section), contacts from other undergraduates who have worked as RAs on other projects, and expressions of interest from COE Professorial Assistants.

Research position(s) may be available for one or more undergraduate students (FS11-SS12); contact Dr. Smith at jsmith@msu.edu.

Interstate Teacher Support and Assessment Consortium (InTASC) Standards Defensibility Project

Faculty Researcher: Dr. Peter Youngs

Department of Teacher Education

Project Description/Activities in Which Student Will Participate
The Interstate Teacher Support and Assessment Consortium (InTASC) Standards Defensibility Project involves a) reviewing empirical research to provide support for the revised InTASC teaching standards (2011) and b) developing a document (i.e., a cross-walk) that articulates relationships between the InTASC teaching standards and the new Common Core Standards (being developed to address student assessment and accountability).