Skip to content Skip to navigation

Primary Researcher   |   255-1783
Research Area:

Ann S. Bowers Assistant Professor

My lab studies teaching and learning in physics and other science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) courses. We study research questions such as how students acquire skills or content knowledge, how different course environments affect students’ motivation or their persistence in physics (or other STEM fields), or how they develop an understanding of the nature of science and scientific measurement. We spend considerable time worrying about how we know what outcomes are being achieved and what mechanisms are responsible those outcomes. We use both qualitative (e.g. observations, interviews, and focus groups) and quantitative methods (e.g. test scores, instances of pre-defined actions or activities) to explore the many possible variables that affect student learning and their experiences in physics and STEM courses.
Research Area:

Compelling, data-driven national reports call for changes in the way STEM courses are taught at the college level. Many of the changes focus on helping students learn about core concepts and problem solving instead of concentrating on memorized facts. Although institutions are striving to make changes, understanding what classroom techniques help students learn, how to effectively assess learning, and how to support faculty who implement change is a complex research endeavor. My lab, which engages undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs, and university faculty, works on these teaching and learning topics. I am also the Editor-in-Chief of CourseSource. CourseSource is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal that publishes undergraduate life science teaching resources that have been developed with evidence-based pedagogical techniques.


Research Area:

My postdoc research project centers on studying the transition in instruction from high school to college STEM classes. I am working with faculty member Michelle Smith in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology department along with collaborators at two other universities to study the predictions and expectations students have about instructional practices upon entering large introductory college STEM classes.  We are also working with faculty through the Provost’s Gateway Course Data working group to learn how to help faculty better support students during this key transition time. 

Graduate Students

Research Area:

I am a Ph.D student in physics working with Prof. Holmes in PER. Previously, I developed an automated administration system for the PLIC to make delivery of the assessment to instructors and students easier and more efficient. Lately, I’ve been working on validation projects related to the PLIC, as well as conducting separate analyses using tools from machine-learning and network analysis.

Undergraduate Students

Research Area:

I am an undergraduate student interested in Astronomy and Physics. I work with Professor Holmes to understand the interaction of gender in introductory physics labs, as well as trying to understand overall student behavior. I also work on the Zeus-II and Hirmes spectrometers in the Astronomy department.