Explore UW-L research at April 18 event

UW-L seniors from left, Chloe Peebles and Jenna Halvorson, hold a Sudoku puzzle.

UW-L seniors from left, Chloe Peebles and Jenna Halvorson, partnered to do research on test difficulty as part of an honors seminar psychology class. The two used Sudoku puzzles to test 83 undergraduate students.

UW-L student research is lending insight into invasive species, friendships in the workplace, flaws in eyewitness testimony, the foot-strike pattern of runners, test taking and much more.

Learn about UW-L student research and their creative accomplishments during the annual UW-L Celebration of Student Research & Creativity from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Friday, April 18, at Valhalla, Cartwright Center-Gunning Addition.

For their research project, UW-L seniors Jenna Halvorson and Chloe Peebles handed out medium-difficulty Sudoku puzzles to 83 undergraduate students. Some were told it was hard, others were told it was easy and a control group was told nothing.

The two wanted to understand how perceived test difficulty affects performance.

“We’ve been working on our project for one and a half years and it means a lot to us,” says Peebles. “We want others to appreciate it as well.”

Image of a student standing by her research poster while others look on.

Photo of a poster presentation at the April 2012 Celebration of Research & Creativity.

Past studies have shown perceived difficulty can be a detriment to performance, notes Peebles. They hypothesized that when participants were led to believe a task was difficult, their belief in their ability to do it would decrease and their performance would be affected.

Their results showed that students who were told the puzzle was difficult did have less confidence in their ability to do the Sudoku. However, that lack of confidence didn’t actually mean they would perform worse. Peebles notes the discrepancy with previous research and suggests that their results may have been skewed by some participants’ familiarity with Sudoku puzzles, which was a greater predictor of determining performance than confidence.

A total of 150 UW-L student poster displays and oral presentations are planned, as well as gallery exhibits and artistic performances.

UW-L Director of Undergraduate Research and Biology Professor Scott Cooper encourages faculty members to send students to the event — especially freshmen and sophomores who could learn about potential future research opportunities.

Cooper gives his biology students extra credit when they attend the celebration and ask fellow students a question about their research and record the answer. Such an interaction requires a higher level of engagement than simply reading posters, he says. Plus, it gives student researchers a chance to talk about their research with a new audience.

The celebration highlights the important role faculty and academic staff play as mentors in the scholarly activity process.

Learn more about the UW-L Celebration of Student Research & Creativity.