Undergraduate research opportunities

September 29, 2022

Each year, College of Education faculty are invited to apply for funds provided to the college by MSU’s Office of Undergraduate Research. Faculty submit research proposals early in the fall semester, and those who receive awards use the funds to hire undergraduate students on an hourly basis. Below are the Fall 2022 projects. Apply now!

Project: Educational Research on Student Motivation and Engagement in STEM fields

Faculty: Dr. Lisa Linnenbrink-Garcia & Jen Schmidt



Contact: To apply for this position or ask any questions, please contact the post-doctoral scholar, Sharlyn Ferguson-Johnson (fergu256@msu.edu)

Project Description:

Students will participate in multiple educational research projects on student motivation, engagement, and achievement using data from adolescent and young adult populations. The majority of our research is aimed to identify personal and contextual factors that support or discourage student engagement and persistence in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields – with a specific focus on better supporting female, first-gen, and minoritized students STEM engagement. This research has taken various forms over the years, including classroom-based surveys and meta-analysis (i.e., combining data from multiple studies) projects. The purpose of this RA position is to provide undergraduate researchers with research training and experience at the intersection of educational, developmental, and social psychology. Undergraduate assistants will attend weekly lab meetings and work closely with graduate students and a post-doctoral scholar to help with tasks such as data collection, data processing, data management, and reviews of relevant 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, Mid-Michigan Symposium for Undergraduate Research Experiences) based on their own research ideas with their mentors’ guidance. To apply for this position or ask any questions, please contact the post-doctoral scholar, Sharlyn Ferguson-Johnson (fergu256@msu.edu). Please also visit https://sites.google.com/msu.edu/llgarcia/people/lab-collaborators/mi-state-motivate for more information on our lab.

Project: Clinical Outcomes after Orthopaedic Surgery

Faculty: Dr. Matt Harkey


Contact: harkeym1@msu.edu

Project Description:

The purpose of this study is to prospectively measure patient-reported, functional, biomechanical, and imaging outcomes among patients during the first 2 years after knee surgery. Participants will be enrolled prior to their return to sport and will be assessed serially during the first 2 years following surgery and then at annual intervals after that. Assessments will include patient reported measures of knee function, pain, fear of re-injury, fear of movement, physical activity. In addition, participants will complete a thigh muscle strength assessment, assessment of hopping performance, lower extremity biomechanical assessment, and a knee ultrasound assessment at each time point.

Project: Enhancing Immigrant Children’s Bilingual and Transnational Learning Through Virtual Reality

Faculty: Dr. Jungmin Kwon


Contact: jkwon@msu.edu

Project Description:

The goal of this project is to examine how virtual reality (VR) can be used as a tool to enhance immigrant children’s bilingual and transnational learning. While there is growing attention on integrating VR into K-12 educational contexts, little has been discussed as to how VR can be used to empower students who are linguistically, culturally, and racially minoritized. Taking a social design experiment perspective, we are designing curriculum for the informal learning program that uses virtual reality (VR) as a tool to engage immigrant children in exploring diaspora and sharing their transnational and bilingual expertise. We seek to continue revising and improving the program by working with teachers and immigrant children. Ultimately, this study will examine how immigrant children engage with curricular experiences that foreground their linguistic and cultural expertise and use VR to represent their multilingual and transnational identities.

Project: Beyond Lip Service: An Improvement Science Approach Towards Racial Equity in Teacher Education

Faculty: Dr. Terry Flennaugh


Contact: flennaug@msu.edu

Project Description:

While there is considerable evidence to document the pervasive Whiteness in the teaching profession and the demographic imperative for increasing the number of teachers of Color, there have been relatively few systematic investigations of the racial equity climate in teacher preparation programs and the extent to which these programs prepare candidates to practice racial equity and social justice in P-12 classrooms. Four universities are attempting to transform their teacher preparation programs by forming a networked improvement community (NIC) focused on racial equity and social justice. This project will examine the strategies these universities have implemented to reduce systemic racism and document how they have sought to strengthen teacher preparation through a shared commitment to racial justice. This includes collecting data on the steps each institution is taking to attract and retain more faculty and teacher candidates of Color–and to transform their teacher preparation programs to provide environments that welcome and affirm diversity and promote systemic change.

Project: Exploring Digital Tools to Support Students with Disabilities

Faculty: Dr. Emily Bouck


Contact: ebc@msu.edu

Project Description:

Bouck and her graduate research assistant to explore teaching mathematics to students with disabilities via virtual manipulatives. Undergraduate researchers would assist with developing data collection materials, data collection, analysis, and dissemination.

Project: Examining Variables that Affect Concussion Recovery

Faculty: Dr.Tracey Covassin


Contact: covassin@msu.edu

Project Description:

The purpose of this research is to document concussions in adolescents and collegiate populations. Concussion is an injury that results in a variety of physical, cognitive, emotional, balance and sleep impairments. In addition, physical activity following a concussion has become an important recovery measure instead of having them go in a quiet isolated room to recover. This study has two aims. Aim 1 includes MSU collegiate athletes who will be administered a baseline test prior to the sport season. Aim 2 examines a concussed participants recovery from the acute stage (i.e., within 72 hours) to full recovery (i.e., 30 days following medical clearance) either compared to their baseline or a control group. This study will examine cognition, vestibular/ocular function, concussion symptoms, sleep, anxiety, family environment, athletic identity, and health-related quality of life following their concussion as well as physical activity (via wearable sensors, gait test, and the HiMAT) during the time of their concussion to medical clearance.

Project: Dirt Track Racing Rollovers: Why are midgets and non-winged sprint cars more prone to rollovers and associated injuries?

Faculty: Dr. David Ferguson


Contact: fergu312@msu.edu

Project Description:

Automobile racing is an expensive sport but a cost-effective form of motor racing is “Dirt Track Racing”, where drivers compete on a dirt surface instead of asphalt or concrete. In addition to the cost-effective surface and car there is less money spent on safety regulations. Consequently, it is a particularly dangerous form of motor racing. In order to improve safety in the sport commonalities in crashes must be established. To fill this gap in the literature a retrospective analysis of dirt track crashes will be performed by searching for news articles, injury database, and first-hand accounts regarding dirt track racing accidents. Crashes and injuries will be coded and tabulated. Multivariable statistical tests will be used to determine predictors of injuries. A potential outcome from this study will be to better inform stake holders in this form of motorsport.

If you have any questions about the Fall 2022 funded projects, contact Emily Bouck at ebc@msu.edu.”