Welcome to the Sayre Lab!

Sayre Lab Interests

  • Improving and extending the theoretical bases for physics education research.
  • Investigating the interplay between physics and mathematics understanding.
  • Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods education research.
  • Developmental trends among pre-service physicists.
  • Faculty development for effective assessment practices.

Current Projects

  • Mathematization: Connecting students' ideas around math and physics at the upper-division
  • PhysPort: Building research-based online resources for physics teaching
  • PEER: Professional development for Emerging Education Researchers

Past Projects


Partial list here, including PDFs of papers, grants, CV, and theses.  There's also a few of the more recent ones on the arXiv, including some I might not have updated here.  Eleanor Sayre's Google Scholar page has a somewhat more comprehensive list, at the expense of not including PDFs.  

Videos of talks on youtube, and a promotional video.  If you'd like to see a talk that isn't available, email me.    

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.
  • Physics learning at large and small scalesHow 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.  
  • Physics learning and learning to be a physicist: Learning physics means learning lots of technical content, including mathematical tools, lab skills, and physics concepts.  It also requires learning cultural content, from expectations about how we structure equations to beliefs about the nature of research. Focusing on upper-division physics students, this talk integrates research across several projects to build a robust picture of what it means to become a physicist.
  • Measuring equitable participation in undergraduate science classroomsWhat 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. 
  • Resources for research-based teaching and assessment on PhysPortPhysPort is an online professional development portal for physics faculty.  PhysPort combines faculty-friendly information about research-based teaching and assessment with online workshops and an interactive Data Explorer to help faculty teach better.  In this talk, I'll outline some of PhysPort's materials, the research behind them, and ongoing research efforts to develop and test new collections for the portal.
  • Faculty development for researchScience education research holds the promise of satisfying expectations of both scholarship and teaching effectiveness. However, new researchers frequently seek more diverse training in research methods, mentoring students, and maintaining research programs.  We develop and run field schools for groups of emerging and established education researchers in multiple countries, including Rwanda, Germany, Mexico and the United States. In this talk, I will lay out the model for professional development, describe the different contexts we have explored, and discuss various results from the different manifestations.
  • Who can do this? Discrimination in physicsAs seen from the high profile #metoo movement to more mundane structural discrimination, women in physics face many challenges.  Despite the bleak past, there are some reasons to have hope for the future, including initiatives such as the CUWiP, NSF INCLUDES and ADVANCE programs.  In this talk, I'll briefly go over the state of sexist discrimination and harassment in physics.  I will outline some things we can do as individuals and collectively to combat pervasive sexism.  
  • Making sausage: Research as a human endeavorHow 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. 


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. 


Current members

PI: Eleanor Sayre (personal site | CV | schedule)
Graduate students: Nandana Weliweriya, Dina Zohrabi-Alaee, Tra Huynh
Undergraduates:  Ben Archibeque, Wai-Ka Wong

Former members

Postdocs: Brian Danielak, Paul Irving, Adrian Madsen, Hai Dong Nguyen, Deepa Chari
Graduate students: Xian Wu, Ying Chen, Nick Fowler, Bahar Modir
AY17-18: Ben Archibeque, Chris Hass, Lincoln Phung, Alan Luu Ngo
Summer 2017: Natasha Graham
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 have research opportunities for undergraduate students, graduate students, and visiting scholars.  We're also interested in collaborations with other researchers and labs.  Come play with us!  Contact Eleanor Sayre for more details about how.