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Students engage their professions

History majors presented their senior research papers on campus on November 16. Topics included “Artmisia’s Art,” “Christian Reformed Responses to the Problem of Palestine,” “Julius Caesar: Quest for Glory,” and “Frontier Perceptions of Native Americans in American Literature.”

“The papers require students to do what a historian would do: original research using a range of primary and secondary sources and formulating and communicating a clear understanding of the results of that research,” says Dr. Hubert Krygsman.

Students must choose a significant topic, find different types of literature on the subject, do in-depth research, synthesize what they’ve learned, and communicate it clearly, says Krygsman. The best papers are presented at regional student history conferences, where Dordt College students have won awards in the past.

The eighth annual Psychology Student Research Conference was held on campus on December 8. Five seniors presented original research projects on such things as factors that influence cheating on a memory test, how feedback influences willingness to ask for help with an unfamiliar task, and how time of day and the presence of background music affect people’s preferred interpersonal distance.

“Professional psychology conferences give students the opportunity not only to get feedback on their research but to also understand professional ‘politics’ and networking,” says Dr. Sherri Lantinga.

However, since the closest annual student conference is in Chicago during graduation weekend, Lantinga began an annual in-house conference so students could give public presentations and get feedback on their research. A survey of psych alumni produced comments like “I walk away from this class with a feeling of accomplishment and deeper understanding” and “I have never felt more of a sense of accomplishment after completing a project.”

Six Dordt College students accompanied two Dordt College physics professors to the annual meeting of the Iowa Chapter of the American Association of Physics Teachers, held at Ames on Saturday, November 6. Dr. John Zwart chaired the meeting, and Dr. Arnold Sikkema spoke on the topic “Computational Physics and Ferromagnetic Domains.” Sikkema discussed a threehour laboratory exercise in which students modeled and learned about twodimensional ferromagnetic materials with periodic boundary conditions, using a spreadsheet. The main point of the activity, says Sikkema, was to introduce students to the field of computational physics and a few of its widelyused techniques.