Increase the percentage of undergraduate students participating in research, scholarship and creative activity.
Research, scholarship or creative activity involves making new contributions to a branch of knowledge. Undergraduate students are an integral part of the research, scholarship, and creative activities that are taking place at WSU to bring new knowledge to the world.
Key Components of undergraduate research, scholarship and creative activity in all majors and disciplines:
- Originality: Projects should be novel and involve a meaningful contribution to the discipline.
- Mentorship: Efforts will be conducted with the guidance of an expert.
- Methodology: Projects must use techniques or methods that are appropriate to the field of study.
- Dissemination: Results produced are worthy of sharing with others so that collective knowledge can be advanced.
- The existing Office of Undergraduate Research can provide the leadership necessary to achieve the goals as outlined in this plan.
- There are multiple methods of participation and engagement possible, from course-based to individually mentored research, scholarly, and creative experiences. These can occur both within and outside of the University.
- All students should have the opportunity to engage in these learning experiences, regardless of major or class level. Development of skills, dispositions, and knowledge should be scaffolded through the curriculum and co-curriculum across all 4 years so that students are appropriately prepared for the type of experience they have selected.
- As no new state resources are foreseen until after 2020, increased levels of participation in the short term will need to be supported by existing distributed resources, new grants, and philanthropic gifts from the upcoming campaign.
- Targets should be realistically set in light of available investments.
- To achieve these goals, faculty need to be engaged and on board. This may require cultural shifts in some areas.
- WSU already has some elements of a program of excellence in undergraduate research, scholarship and creative activity. A significant initiative to develop undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative activity at the institutional level could give us national prominence, whether or not we hit a “Top 25” target in quantitative terms.
These are envisioned as activities for the first three-year period of the long-range plan:
- Continue activities that provide access, build confidence and prepare students to engage in research, scholarly, and creative activity (e.g. SURCA, research awards, travel awards for dissemination, research preparatory courses UNIV 199).
- Establish baseline of current participation in various levels of engagement:
- Group-taught courses identified as research/scholarship/creative activity-based
- Directed research/scholarship/creative activity and thesis work that may or may not have an attached course
- Research/scholarship/creative activity outside of the University
- Adjust systems (SIS, Activity Insights) as needed to capture data going forward. Develop and disseminate clear guidance to faculty about reporting “directed learning activities.”
- Develop a group to manage the vetting and designation of these research based courses and research/scholarship/creative experiences.
- Use Council on Undergraduate Research’s Characteristics of Excellence in Undergraduate Research (COEUR) framework to benchmark WSU’s existing program and determine capacity for expansion under various resource scenarios.
- Set target in light of current activity levels and resource base.
- Determine faculty workload implications and adjust systems as necessary (annual review, course loads, tenure and promotion).
- As a potential way of expanding course based research or individually mentored research/scholarly/creative activity, consider supporting redesign of key UCORE Inquiry courses to foster targeted outcomes.
- Students will be more broadly and deeply engaged in inquiry-based activities, which will accelerate and deepen their mastery of key university learning goals, including Critical and Creative Thinking and Communication.
- A greater proportion of students will develop more confidence in their skills, greater career readiness, and clearer career focus.
- Greater pool of qualified undergraduates to assist faculty research/scholarship/creative activity, with the potential to increase faculty productivity (grants, publications, compositions, etc.).
- Greater visibility and availability of undergraduate research, scholarship and creative opportunities should become a recruiting magnet.
Potential measures of participation:
- Currently about 25% participate in UGR (NSSE self-report). One measure could be to exceed peer average on NSSE UGR measure (currently 30-35%).
- Faculty measures:
- “directed learning experiences” reported in Activity Insights
- publications, presentations or juried shows involving undergraduates (Activity Insights report)
- Grants involving undergraduates (AI?)
- Course-based counts of student participation
- Other measures:
- SURCA participation
- Centrally funded awards (e.g., Auvils, Carsons)