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New program brings research into undergraduate classrooms

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

LAWRENCE — In an effort to provide research opportunities to more students, nine faculty members are working with the Center for Undergraduate Research this fall to redesign portions of their courses to include a larger research or creative component. Recipients of the Research-Intensive Course Grants participate in a series of workshops to learn best practices, share models and refine the focus of their classes. 

“Multiple studies have demonstrated that putting research into classes allows more equitable access to undergraduate research experiences, provides students with many of the same benefits as one-on-one research and offers faculty members the opportunity to combine their research and teaching,” said Alison Olcott, associate professor in geology and director of the Center for Undergraduate Research.  “We are pleased to be able to offer support to faculty here at KU who are hoping to offer a more intensive course-based research opportunity for their students.”

Each faculty member receives $500, plus another $500 that can be used for course expenses. The program is funded through the Center for Undergraduate Research, the Center for Faculty Development & Mentoring, the Center for Teaching Excellence, the Office of Diversity & Equity and the Office of Undergraduate Studies. 

“When students tackle research and creative work, they have a larger investment in learning because they have a sense of ownership and pride in their work,” said Jane Barnette, associate professor of theatre and one of the grant recipients. “Especially when we make those projects public by inviting audiences to see/hear the students’ work, it raises the stakes for undergraduates to envision themselves as part of the larger academic conversation—as participants in rather than recipients of knowledge creation.”

Research-Intensive Course Grants are part of the overall efforts of the undergraduate research center to provide accessible research opportunities for students on KU’s campus. The goal is to support faculty members who are developing these types of courses so more students can be exposed to the high-impact practice of undergraduate research.

“Course-based research assignments are a terrific way to help students develop higher-level thinking and learning skills because they ask students to apply what they have been learning to problems for which there are no predefined answers,” said Andrea Greenhoot, director of KU’s Center for Teaching Excellence.

The Center for Undergraduate Research is currently taking applications for Spring 2020 Research-Intensive Course Grants, with a deadline of Nov. 15. Faculty and instructors who are interested in applying and have questions are encouraged to email Nikki Perry, assistant director with the undergraduate research center, at cur@ku.edu.

Fall 2019 Research-Intensive Course Grant recipients are listed below, along with the course they are working on through this grant. Courses are taught in fall 2019 unless otherwise noted.

Jane Barnette, associate professor of theatre, working with THR 302: Dramaturgy.

Teri Finneman, assistant professor of journalism, working with JOUR 534: Diversity in Media.

Megan Kaminski, associate professor of English, working with ENGL 352: Poetry Writing I.

Shawn Keshmiri, professor of aerospace engineering, working with AE 550: Dynamics of Flight I.

Allison Kirkpatrick, assistant professor of astronomy, working with ASTR 591: Stellar Astronomy.

Ashley Muddiman, assistant professor of communication studies, working with COMS 335/POLS 521: Mass Media and Politics.

Lauren Norman, visiting assistant professor of anthropology, working with ANTH 340: Human Variation and Evolution.

Deborah Smith, professor of ecology & evolutionary biology, working with BIOL 420: Research on Kansas Native Bees, taught in spring 2020.

Nilou Vakil, director of the Interior Architecture & Design Program, working with Arch 508: Architecture Material and Tectonics.