Research projects


Eleanor C Sayre


February 14, 2024

Oh hey!

Looking for articles about how to do research? Check out Research: a Practical Handbook

What kind of research do you do?

We investigate how people become professionals, mostly physics undergraduates, and we build professional development materials for university faculty.

My research interests include:

  • Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods education research.
  • Student learning, community, and identity development in physics.
  • Faculty development for effective, equitable teaching and assessment practices.
  • Professional development for emerging researchers
  • Enabling fabulous research, particularly in STEM education.

I don’t usually do research on children or people who work with children.

Wordcloud from google scholar, as interpreted in R and inspired by scholargoggler

If you want to meet with me, sign up here. You might also be interested in our lab practices



There’s a problem with publication lists: they go out of date fast. Here’s a PDF CV from August 2023. If you need something more recent, just email me.

There’s a few papers on the arXiv, but it’s hardly comprehensive, especially for older stuff or actually-published stuff. Eleanor Sayre’s Google Scholar page has a somewhat more comprehensive list, at the expense of not including PDFs. Google Scholar is mostly missing grant proposals, which I’m happy to share.

Talks & Workshops

Colloquia and Seminars

I love travel, I love giving talks, and I love meeting with people at other institutions to chat about their work. These colloquia and seminars showcase some of my recent work. They are appropriate for physics departments (large and small) or DBER groups.

Title Abstract
Consequences of asset-based models for physics education Historically, physics education research (PER) has used deficit models for students, focusing on how students don’t understand diverse topics in physics and developing instructional tools to fix students’ difficulties. In contrast, an asset-based model of students focuses on how students put together different ideas to solve problems, accounting for both processes of problem solving and deeper structure to students’ thinking. This talk takes up the consequences (both instructional and in research) for an asset-based view of students, and applies them to faculty development models as well.
Helping students learn more How do students learn, and how can we help? This is a great introduction to key results from education research around student learning. It’s best for STEM audiences or physics department colloquia which occasionally bring in scientists from other disciplines.
Physics learning at large and small scales How do we know how people learn physics? This is a fundamental question of measurement which requires both large-scale quantitative and small-scale qualitative studies to build a full picture of student learning in physics. In this talk, I discuss efforts to measure student learning using quantitive and qualitative data of physics students across the undergraduate curriculum and across institutions.
Measuring equitable participation in undergraduate science classrooms What does it mean for a group of students to be equitable? Why should it matter? I’ll talk through what equity means in undergraduate science classrooms, pedagogy for promoting it, and several ways to measure equity in activities and discourse. This is an active talk; come prepared to work with your neighbors.
Who can do this? Discrimination in professional science From overt sexism to more mundane structural discrimination, women in science face many challenges; these challenges compound intersectionally for women with multiple historically excluded identities. In this talk, I’ll briefly go over the state of sexist and racist discrimination and harassment in science, focusing on physics and astronomy. I will outline some things we can do as individuals and collectively to combat pervasive sexism and racism.
Making sausage Research as a human endeavor: How do research projects move from vague ideas to published papers? How long does it take? What’s the success rate? Usually when we present our research, we give the impression that our studies were innovative-yet-inevitable and our results surprising-yet-anticipated. This talk focuses on the messiness of research as an emergent process done by collaborative groups of humans, and is best for DBER groups or other people who already focus on education research.


Title Abstract
Getting started with research design How do you know if your students are learning? What changes are you contemplating for next year? In this workshop, we’ll clarify your ideas about teaching problems to solve or new things to try. Your ideas will form the nucleus of a new SoTL project. You will leave this workshop with a reasonable and possible research question, as well as initial ideas towards a research design.
Doing research with human subjects: what faculty need to know Faculty often make changes in their teaching to improve student understanding and engagement. To assess these changes – either at the course level or the departmental level – requires careful measurements. In this interactive workshop, I discuss some of the challenges with collecting, analyzing, and presenting student data from the perspective of the care of human subjects. We discuss how to choose appropriate measurements, what do to if you have historical data, and how to plan for the future. I will walk you through privacy concerns for work with human subjects, including applying for approval from the human subjects protection board (IRB). This is an introductory level workshop for people just getting started with the scholarship of teaching and learning.
Sharpening your “researcher eyes” New researchers often struggle to make careful observations of student interactions, translate those observations into research questions, and then refine their research questions through close analysis of video-based data. In this workshop, we practice looking for subtlety in classroom video and building viable research projects within the constraints of classroom observations. This is a mid-level workshop for people who are experienced in the classroom and new to video-based research.
Fostering inclusivity and equity in the classroom What classroom practices support everyone in the classroom? How can we tell when a learning environment is equitable? How can we adjust our policies and teaching methods to better support diverse learners? In this workshop, we blend results from education research with practice: active listening, equitable policies, having difficult conversations with students, and supporting diverse learners. This workshop is aimed at faculty and classroom instructors.
Making beautiful posters Let’s be honest: there are a lot of really ugly posters out there, and scientists aren’t trained on how to beautifully present their work. In this hands-on, practical workshop, we focus on making your posters better: more readable, more clear, more memorable, and more accessible. You should bring an abstract for a poster you plan to present or a draft poster that needs help. This workshop is primarily aimed at graduate students, but undergrads and postdocs are also welcome.

You’re also welcome to check out anything from the PEER workshops, as some of them are available as standalones.


Current members

PI: Eleanor Sayre (personal site | contact me | CV )

Graduate student: Brandi Lohman

Former members

Associated scientists: Jackie Doyle, Max Franklin, Juan Yang

Postdocs: Brian Danielak, Paul Irving, Adrian Madsen, Hai Dong Nguyen, Deepa Chari, Linda Strubbe, Chris Hass, Shams El-Adawy

Graduate students: Xian Wu, Ying Chen, Nick Fowler, Bahar Modir, Nandana Weliweriya, Dina Zohrabi-Alaee, Amogh Sirnoorkar, Tra Huynh, Hien Khong, Jessy Changstrom, Chris Hass, Shams El-Adawy,


  • AY22-23: Josh Barron, Jeremy Kamman
  • 2021: Nolan Foth, Cameron Hoppas
  • AY19-20: Aurora Meyer, Chris Conover
  • AY18-19: Aurora Meyer, Austin Hahner, Brycen Parker, Chris Conover
  • AY17-18: Ben Archibeque, Chris Hass, Lincoln Phung, Alan Luu Ngo
  • Summer 2017: Natasha Graham, Wai-ka Wong
  • AY16-17: Ben Archibeque, Wai-ka Wong, Natasha Graham
  • Summar 2016: Savannah Mitchem, Ben Archibeque
  • AY15-16: John D Thompson, Devon McCarthy, Ben Archibeque
  • Summer 2015: John D Thompson, Devon McCarthy, Dylan McKnight, Noah Marks, Martha Rangel
  • AY14-15: Ben Archibeque, John D Thompson, Ed Schenk, Lane Sorell
  • Summer 2014: Jaime Richards, Alison Gomez, Ed Schenk, John D Thompson
  • Summer 2013: Lauren Harris, Chelsea Rasing
  • Summer 2012: Daryl McPadden, Tim Brown
  • AY11-12: Joe Carson
  • Summer 2011: Yifei Sun, Conor Frame
  • AY10-11: Yifei Sun, Tyler Koch
  • Summer 2010: Tyler Koch, Tienren Wang

Would you like to join the lab?

We often have research opportunities for students, visiting scholars, and collaborations with other researchers and labs, but right now I do not have any additional capacity to directly supervise new lab members. I am not accepting new graduate students for fall 2023, and I will not be hiring new undergraduates for summer or fall 2023.

Some of our fabulous collaborators are actively seeking new students and postdocs for these projects, so if you want to work with me I am happy to direct you to the right collaborator.

Where is the lab?

Before the pandemic, the lab was located in Cardwell Hall at Kansas State University. During the pandemic, we continued our work using online collaboration tools. Many of us still live in Manhattan, but some people have moved to other cities, and others were already geographically distant.

Recognizing our connection to indigenous lands, peoples, and cultures past, present, and future, alongside our 1863 legacy as the US’s first operational land grant university, we must acknowledge that Kansas State stands on the treaty lands of the Kaw Nation. Today there are four federally recognized tribes in Kansas: the Kickapoo, Prairie Band Potawatomi, Sac and Fox, and the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska. We acknowledge K-State’s commitment to the future success of indigenous cultures and people through our university mission of education, service, and outreach.

Land acknowledgement adapted from Dr Tanya Gonzalez, Faculty Senate President

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