This summer, University of Wisconsin-Platteville senior Anna Drazkowski traveled to Tampa, Florida, with Dr. Yan Wu, associate professor of engineering physics to attend the American Society for Engineering Education Conference to present their research. Their work, “Standard Based Grading in Introductory Physics Laboratory Courses” earned the best paper award in the Division of Experimentation and Laboratory-Oriented Studies.
“It was amazing. I have never been to an academic conference like that before,” said Drazkowski, a broad field science, secondary education major from Menomonie, Wisconsin. “It was really nice to see the inside of the academic world, to see how people do research and how they share their ideas. I have gotten a lot of ideas from the conference that I have already used in my summer internship and that I’m going to use this year.”
The paper was the outcome of Wu being selected into the 2018-19 Wisconsin Teaching Scholars Program. Together they studied whether standard based grading helps students learn basic skills and concepts in physics labs.
“I was really honored Dr. Wu decided to include me as the co-author; she was recognizing my efforts on the project and that meant a lot to me,” said Drazkowski.
Wu sought a grader to help with her educational research project and Drazkowski was recommended to her. It was a good fit for both of them. “I had a great experience working with Anna, who’s interested in teaching science,” Wu said. “The project and the final product, the paper, were successful. It was a rewarding experience for me. I hope Anna learned a lot, and it was beneficial for her.”
“There are so many different aspects I never thought about. I got to see the formal side of learning new things,” said Drazkowski. “All the time we are making inferences and conclusions of what we see, but it was interesting to actually go through all these different steps, write it out and reflect on everything we have done.”
Wu hopes Drazkowski can use this training as she embarks on her own teaching endeavors. “I hope this is greatly beneficial for Anna’s career when she needs to find a job,” said Wu. “All of these will be useful in her future career: the process of collecting data, how to carry out data analysis, and the process of writing a research paper – to think about how you layout the overall picture, how you present it and how you draw the conclusions.”
Drazkowski received several takeaways as she observed Wu. “She showed me how she graded so I could help with the grading and how she set up her homework assignments; it was really interesting,” Drazkowski said. “I think it’s going to be really helpful when I’m a teacher in the future.”
This was Drazkowski’s first time doing undergraduate research. “It’s an amazing opportunity that not everybody in undergrad has and right here at UW-Platteville we have the opportunity to work with our professors,” she said. “You don’t have to wait until you’re a graduate student. You have this experience right away to understand if you like it and want to continue doing it.”
“It’s rewarding to interact with undergrads in a research project,” said Wu. “There are benefits. When we do the writing, I have a second opinion, and we can toss around these ideas. I benefit personally, but it’s a rewarding experience that I helped someone.”
Although Wu and Drazkowski’s paper was a success, there’s more research to be done. “There are still questions that need to be answered,” said Wu. “I can see standard based grading helps students in terms of learning threshold concepts such as measurement uncertainty. The concept of measurement uncertainty is counter-intuitive at first, but once you really understand it, you’re over the threshold and it’s clear in every aspect. It’s translatable in every field.”