Dr. Franklin is interested in a wide range of issues related to student retention and success in academic environments. Some of his more recent studies include:
1. Student pathways to graduation. This study looks at how students move through an academic system to reach graduation. We look at how students from different programs, including STEM and non-STEM disciplines, change programs in order to attain their goals. This study is identifying subtle differences in pathways across discipline, race, gender and dear/hard-of-hearing status, with implications for how programs can better serve and retain talented students.
2. Faculty participation in efforts to increase inclusion and equity. Dr. Franklin is co-director of an HHMI-funded Inclusive Excellence program that seeks to foster a more inclusive environment in the College of Science. As part of this project he supervises postdoctoral researchers interviewing and surveying faculty on their perceptions within the environment. In order to want to effect change faculty must first see the inequities that need to be addressed. Faculty bring different motivations and perspectives to this initiative and we are working on models that explains personal transitions faculty have as they become more aware of their environment.
3. How physicists embed conceptual meaning in mathematical formalism. Physics uses mathematical formalism to represent conceptual ideas. This means that each equation has an underlying meaning or story that can be changed by rearranging the equation. Conventional physics “derivations” rely on this. A starting equation is manipulated so as to make a particular idea more obvious, often while de-emphasizing other concepts that would be distracting. By studying how physicists talk about equations and symbols we can get a better understanding of how physics as a discipline uses math to convey ideas.