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Do you have any significant questions about the Students as Scholars QEP? How can your questions be addressed?

8 Responses to “Question C: Questions to Be Addressed”

  1. Ann M Palkovich says:

    While I find the initiative to incorporate student research throughout the educational experience of undergraduates at GMU encouraging, there are several disconnects in the QEP that simply don’t make sense.

    The stated intent:

    “we expect that by offering these programs to students of all abilities and backgrounds, we will be able to engage students for whom academic work has been uninspiring in the past, as well as students who come to Mason with the intention of participating in scholarly inquiry. While we understand that not all students will choose to participate in the Students as Scholars QEP in the same way, we hope to offer the activities broadly and afford all interested students the opportunity to participate.”

    Broad, open participation is great. However, issues of differential preparation and abilities of our students is not adequately addressed. More emphasis on a research perspective throughout the educational experience of undergraduates is helpful. However it remains unclear that substantially more students would seek participation in undergraduate research programs than already do so. It is less clear how a greater proportion of students would achieve the necessary background or gain the maturity, abilities and commitment to undertake original research.

    Existing programs throughout the University have worked for years to provide undergraduate research opportunities, and continually work hard to make adjustments that would allow students who are “late bloomers” to participate when such students don’t meet established criteria (such as a minimum GPA). It is also the case that most of these programs are already working at capacity. Working with students at any level (undergrad or grad) on research initiatives is extremely labor intensive. While greatly rewarding for both students and mentors, increasing the number of students in individual mentorships is extremely problematic. Emphasizing courses as venues for involving additional students is helpful, but even here limits on how many students can be well served are quickly reached (serving well even 18 students in such a class can be difficult).

    Finally, OSCAR is highlighted as a major emphasis in the QEP.
    However, on page 30, it states that OSCAR participation will be limited to “10-15 students per year”. This just plain doesn’t make sense. If this overall initiative seeks to broadly increase the undergraduate student participation in research, then concentrating on a program that serves fewer students than already participate in existing programs, such as the Undergraduate Apprenticeship Program and the University Scholars Program, does little more than provide even more resources to same limited number of high achieving students. I thought we were supposed to be expanding opportunities to students that we don’t yet serve. It would make better sense to commit additional resources toward creating classes whose focus is on original student research and then assure that there is continuity of support for both students and faculty to instantiate such courses in the undergraduate curriculum as a means of changing the pedagogical culture of the institution.

    (Faculty with long standing commitment to and experience with undergraduate research)

  2. Ann,

    Many thanks for your on-going support of undergraduate scholarship, and your thoughtful response to the draft Students as Scholars QEP.

    You are absolutely right that there are existing programs that support student scholarship and many are at capacity. This just points to the need for the Students as Scholars program to find ways to increase the opportunities for the students. We welcome any suggestions or proposals you have to do this.

    I do want to make clear that the Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities, and Research (OSCAR) will be serving all students and all faculty who want to be involved in student scholarship.

    You refer to the OSCAR Fellows, which is a special program designed to identify a few key students (10-15) who have been involved in student scholarship. These students will have an opportunity to promote student scholarship through public outreach, including presentations in UNIV100 classes, alumni events, and new student orientations. The Fellows will also serve as a student advisory board for OSCAR. Hopefully, by being enthusiastic models, they will encourage increased participation in student scholarship.

  3. Tracy McLoone says:

    I’m excited by the possibilities these initiatives offer. A concern about genuine scholarly research based on coursework credit is the HSRB process and requirements. The current review process is designed, it seems, for long-term research and projects, or at least those that can be planned several months ahead of when research begins. Many good topics for research and analysis in social sciences, cultural studies and media studies are time-sensitive.

    How would this work for an undergrad semester-long research project? What if a student or faculty member has an amazing idea in November for a Spring semester research project? Making it through the proposal process and HSRB approval in time to do a substantive amount of research and analysis in the Spring semester is unlikely. Should that project be tabled for another year, and what happens to the student and to the idea in the interim?

    How would approvals, training and accountability work, as suggested by Ann\’s concern above about how to address ever-stretched faculty/staff time and availability as valuable resources.

    For example, what about course-based research initiatives in which the instructor/research director might differ each year but the focus is consistent: would there be a possibility for broad research approval? Would this be administrated through departments and, if so, would there be resources available for this administration? Would OSCAR take care of this?

    (I’m faculty/admin & a former Mason graduate student)

  4. Susan Hirsch says:

    How will concerns about HSRB be handled? Post above nicely articulates a strong concern of ICAR as a unit. At present many student projects would not be able to be displayed publicly. Will there be wide representation on the committee(s) that make decisions about funding requests for students, faculty, and staff?

  5. Cathy Saunders says:

    I agree that complying with HSRB requirements will be an issue. The HSRB guidelines for classroom projects work quite well for limited “practice” projects, but wouldn’t work at all for full-fledged original research that needs to be completed in the space of a semester (and might create problems even with a year-long proposal-one-semester/research the next format).

    (I teach mostly ENGL 302, and have students in ENGL 302S do mini-field-research projects so that they’ll gain practice in working with fresh primary data)

  6. Kimberly Eby says:

    You are right that we have to address HSRB concerns; we on the committee have identified this as an issue and are well-aware that the success of the QEP is dependent on working through associated challenges.

    Many of you know that the HSRB office recently underwent an external review; my understanding is that there will be a public presentation of the findings shortly in order that the community can hear the recommendations and ask questions.

    We shall need to see what they found as a result of their inquiry and investigation. This will undoubtedly influence the conversations about how to proceed here.

    Thanks for raising this critical point.

  7. Jeannie Brown Leonard says:

    I just learned that the open meeting regarding the results of the review of Mason’s Human Subjects Review Board that will take place in the JC Cinema from 2:00 to 3:30 on Monday, November 15 (thank you, Jamie Cooper).

    In response to HSRB issues, the program I direct moved to supporting students in doing research that involves a critical analysis of existing data rather than original data collection. The latter is reserved for students pursing honors in the major and who have a methodology course to guide their work. All of our majors engage in this research via a two-course sequence. Research based capstone options are a “high impact” educational practice and allow us to connect with more students.

    Challenges include keeping class sizes small, teaching writing along with the research process, and proving faculty development/support during the courses.

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