Research Tracks

A publication of the Office of the Vice Provost for Research at Baylor University

February 4, 2013
by Baylor OVPR

Foundation grant supports civics education research

Dr. Brooke Blevins and Dr. Karon LeCompte, both assistant professors in the School of Education, were recently awarded a grant from the Hatton W. Sumners Foundation in support of their research on the effectiveness of a civics learning tool.

Their research is based on iCivics, an online program developed by retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor that uses interactive games to teach civics concepts and encourage students to become engaged in the political process. Baylor has been involved in research on the iCivics program through a partnership between the School of Education, the Law School, and the Waco and Midway Independent School Districts.

The iCivics curriculum is currently used in all 4th, 8th, and 11th grade classes in the Waco and Midway ISDs. Teachers in these classes use age-appropriate iCivics modules as a launching point for service learning, giving students an opportunity to learn about community issues by becoming directly involved in identifying the causes and solutions of problems.

The Sumners grant will provide funding for a summer professional development program for Waco-area civics teachers where they will receive training on the iCivics program, then implement the curriculum with area students who participate in the iCivics Summer Camp.

The research to be conducted by Baylor faculty, assisted by 10 undergraduate students, is part of a broader research agenda which seeks to evaluate the effectiveness of iCivics curriculum by putting the teaching methods into practice in actual classroom environments.

February 3, 2013
by Baylor OVPR

Postdoctoral fellowship application date announced

Applications to the OVPR Postdoctoral Fellowship Program are due on October 2, 2013.  The program enhances Baylor faculty research capacity by supporting postdoctoral research positions in Ph.D.-granting departments.

Preference is given to research clusters within or across departmental boundaries which propose to share a postdoc position between two or more faculty members.

Positions are initially funded for one year, with a second year possible for successful fellows.  Click here for more information on the program.

February 1, 2013
by Baylor OVPR

National laboratory grant supports research on predicting solar energy

Dr. Jane Harvill, an associate professor in the Department of Statistical Science, recently received a grant from the Sandia National Laboratories in support of her research aimed at improving statistical models used to predict solar irradiance — the amount of solar energy that can be gathered in a given location.

The amount of energy from the sun that reaches the earth can vary depending on a number of factors including atmospheric interference, sunspots and solar flares.  Being able to predict these fluctuations more accurately would help providers better manage the energy produced in large solar farms.

Harvill’s research will examine data on solar energy gathered in and around solar energy farms over time and apply statistical methods to create a predictive model for determining the average amount of solar energy that can be expected over the farm’s geographic footprint in the future.

She will also seek to determine the extent to which currently existing models for solar irradiance can be improved by the use of spatio-temporal statistical methods.