Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Faculty Push Undergraduate Research

A group of faculty and staff met yesterday to address the future of student research in the university’s curriculum.

Nick Healey, an education expert from the University of Gloucestershire, led the discussion, which resulted in suggestions ranging from increasing salaries for faculty who mentor undergraduate researchers to creating more campus journals and conferences to showcase student projects.

Healey focused on strategies for integrating research in regular classes. In Georgetown’s case, he praised the School of Nursing and Health Studies for its initiatives to involve students in research.

“They may not have called it research, but they’re engaging students as producers rather than consumers of knowledge,” Healey said.

The workshop is evidence of a wave of interest among Georgetown’s academic leadership in promoting student research.

“Everyone in the administration … thinks that elite universities have strong undergraduate research components. I think the question is, how do we fund its expansion, and how could it be better connected to the curriculum?” said Randy Bass, director of the Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship.

Although the working group is only beginning its discussion, any reforms would likely include an expansion of the Georgetown Undergraduate Research Opportunities Project to create a broader Center for Student Research. The program, which currently assists about 150 students each year to take on research projects with faculty mentors, may also seek its own endowment in the future.

ore broadly, according to Sonia Jacobson, assistant for academic affairs in the Office of the Provost, the university must decide research should be emphasized for all undergraduates at Georgetown. If it is decided that research methods should be incorporated more closely into the standard curriculum, a possible outcome might be the requirement that each student take a certain number of research-intensive classes.

In any case, Bass hopes the university will move quickly.

“By next year, I hope we have a very clearly articulated vision for what the expansion of research here could look like … and we’re putting on something like a campus-wide undergraduate research conference that’s broadly attended by the community,” Bass said.

Sweeping changes may not occur any time soon, but Bass said that the research should be a high priority.

“We … believe that a school like Georgetown that thinks of itself as being in a certain elite company needs to have more resources spent on undergraduate research … and that this work is really trying to catch up to our peers,” Bass said.

This inquiry into undergraduate research comes as the university begins a process of self-study to prepare for its reaccreditation by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools in the spring of 2012. Other working groups will consider issues such as measuring student learning, allocating university funds, and collecting data on university activity. Jacobson promises that the administration will seek student opinions throughout the process. “

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