The College of Arts and Sciences seeks to enrich the learning experiences of its undergraduate students by involving them in research activities. Students who are involved in undergraduate research build strong relationships with faculty and develop deeper understandings of their disciplines. They learn habits of mind that are valuable to them as students and, later, as professionals and citizens. Through research, students connect classroom experiences and out-of-class learning in ways that enrich both.
While a number of Arts and Sciences’ students are currently involved in research with faculty, the College seeks to bring newly-appointed faculty into research relationships with undergraduates. This is an investment in the future vitality of the undergraduate experience by having new faculty join the ranks of those mentoring undergraduates in research. On one level, this program is an effort to retain students and speed them on their way to degree completion. On a higher level, it is one additional effort on the part of the College to enrich and improve the quality of the undergraduate experience.
In this program, new members of the faculty are encouraged to engage undergraduate students in significant research activities. For purposes of this program, new faculty is defined as those appointed for the first time in 2011-2012 and those appointed in 2010-2011 who did not participate in the program during 2011-2012. The faculty research mentors will receive funding to support the research activity of one student in the amount of $500 ($300 from the College and $200 from the home department). While the goal is to establish a research relationship that will last for two or more years, the University’s financial regulations require that the $500 be spent by September 30, 2013.
This is a new program of the College of Arts and Sciences and its characteristics may and probably will change as it is implemented. The characteristics listed below are intended to give a general idea of the working of the program.
- It is generally expected that the student will assist in parts of the new faculty member’s research, but other approaches are possible. The research may be student-designed as part of a departmental honors program or part of a course.
- While some research projects may begin this year, it is assumed that most will begin in the fall 2012 and will be encouraged to continue for at least two years and hopefully through the student’s entire undergraduate career. This may not work in all cases, as student interests may change, but it is hoped that the research relationship will remain intact. If a student’s interests change, efforts will be made to establish a new research relationship.
- Faculty who wish to participate in the program in fall 2012 should meet with their respective chairs as soon as possible, and no later than February 29th, 2012, to receive the endorsement of the chair to proceed to recruit an undergraduate research assistant.
- While each faculty member is free to identify an undergraduate research assistant for participation in this program, the College’s office of undergraduate research will offer assistance to the faculty member. During the spring 2012 semester, the faculty members will be asked to provide information on their research topics to the college’s Office of Undergraduate Research. That office will solicit applications from students completing their first or second years at the University and will provide each participating faculty member will two or more candidates from whom to select an undergraduate research assistant. Selection should be complete by the end of the spring 2012 semester.
- When the faculty member identifies the research assistant, the faculty must receive the approval of the chair and the chair must notify the appropriate associate dean that the research project has been established. Funds will not be appropriated unless this notification occurs.
- The funding designated for this program will support the research activity. It can go to fund travel, purchase of supplies, and other research-related expenses. It is not a stipend for the student and therefore will have no impact on financial aid. The college will make every effort to have the funding flow smoothly to the student’s account. There will be minimal “red tape” associated with this support.
- Although the projects assigned to undergraduates will vary considerably, attention should be given to projects that have a significant impact on student learning, that assist the faculty member in his or her research, and that, especially for newly-appointed faculty, require involvement but not day-to-day monitoring. National Survey of Student Engagement research indicates that literature review and data interpretation are activities with the strongest impact on deep learning.
- During the first year, the faculty mentors will be expected at the minimum to meet monthly with the undergraduate research assistant.
- All student research assistants funded through this program must present information on their projects at the annual undergraduate research symposium in the year in which their work begins.
Decisions on faculty participation in this program should be made as soon as possible in order to facilitate the matching of students to faculty during May.
New faculty can submit a listing for undergraduate research opportunities by filling out an online form.