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18th Student Research Creative Endeavor Symposium

At the 18th Annual IPFW Student Research and Creative Endeavor Symposium, IPFW students, faculty, and community members learned about fascinating research from across campus. The College of Arts and Sciences (COAS) was well represented at the 2015 symposium, with 77 posters by 88 COAS students demonstrating a variety of outstanding research projects.

The presenters at this year's symposium reflected the disciplinary diversity and academic talent of COAS’s current majors. English & linguistics graduate student Nancy Button presented two posters on research in the humanities. One of her posters was an auto-ethnographic study of journal writing and the other explored different research practices in family history writing. However, according to Button, the opportunity to present her research is not the only benefit: “Part of my purpose coming to a symposium like this is actually to be able to talk with people from other disciplines and show them research that’s happening within the humanities. For example, I presented a poster in Toledo at the Midwest Graduate Research Conference, and I was the only humanities representative there. Being part of that crowd and just talking with them, there was a lot of reciprocal interest. It was great when we could talk and explain our research to one another.” 

Picture of Geosciences poster

Dawn Stager (limited term lecturer in mathematical sciences and geosciences), Sarah Fischer (geosciences undergraduate), and Tessa Matthews (geosciences undergraduate) created a project that spanned a range of fields from geosciences to disability studies to applied pedagogy. In spring 2015, a visually impaired student enrolled in Stager’s geosciences lab, a primarily visual course. There was little to no infrastructure for teaching visually impaired students in a geosciences lab, so Stager and Fischer, an assistant for the visually impaired, had to create activities using a variety of materials to assist their student.

According to Stager, “One of the biggest challenges was recreating documents in a way the visually impaired could understand. Even simple things, like the syllabus, were a challenge. I sent my syllabus to be translated into braille, and found out that apparently four pages of a Word document are forty pages in braille, and the machine could not reproduce any graphics. It felt unmanageable.” She, Fisher, and Matthews discovered they could use Dura-Lar plastic to reproduce graphs, diagrams and other visual aids, and they could even download their own font in Word and print in braille using the plastic. Their symposium poster outlined a project that could help educators in geosciences as well as other disciplines develop effective pedagogical resources for visually impaired students.

Rachel Habegger (biology/history double major) used a history project to gain a deeper understanding of the concepts from a biology course: “I was taking a course on genetics at the time, so I chose to examine the biological concepts, especially concerning heredity, that came to dominate the Soviet Union. It involved all the people that I was learning about in my genetics class, but from a historical perspective.” Beyond the academic value of her findings, Habegger hopes her research shows that interdisciplinary work can facilitate cross-disciplinary learning and produce fascinating research.

According to Cheryl Truesdell, dean of Helmke Library, the symposium is intentionally designed to encourage interaction between disciplines. “We’ve always organized presenters alphabetically and what happens is you have the disciplines all mixed together. It’s so exciting to see one student’s poster here, talking to the other student next to them, even though one may be in chemistry and one may be in psychology, sharing their research.” The symposium gives students and faculty a chance to discover research across campus and inspire new, interdisciplinary ideas.

All posters will be published on IPFW's open source Opus website. To see more pictures from the event, visit the COAS facebook page. Finally, a list of winners and contact information will be available on the Office of Research, Engagement, and Sponsored Programs (RESP) website. This year, four presentations by COAS students won awards:

COAS Undergraduate Winners

First Place
Gracee Fyfe and Samantha Anderson (psychology), "Preschoolers' Mind-Related Comments: Stepping Stones to Early Theory of Mind"

Second Place
Ryan Harvey, Andrew Horton, Carrie Serna, and Crysta Terry (psychology), "Video Game Experience: Perception of Self-Motion and Motion Sickness in the Virtual World"

Third Place
Lindsey Rife (communication sciences and disorders), "Hearing Screening Pass/Fail Rates for Head Start Children in Northeast Indiana"

COAS Graduate Winner

Second Place
Nancy Button (English & linguistics), "Journal Writing as Identity Formation and Counter Story"