Friday, July 15, 2011

Four UIS faculty members participate in undergrad research conference

COPLAC workshop participants (Courtesy COPLAC)
Four faculty members from the University of Illinois Springfield attended the “Institutionalizing Undergraduate Research for State Systems and Consortia” conference at the University of North Carolina – Asheville on June 28-30, 2011. Teams from 22 other Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC) member institutions participated in the workshop. The collaboration was made possible by a National Science Foundation grant awarded to COPLAC, and administered by the Council on Undergraduate Research.

Prior to attending the meeting, the faculty from UIS – Hei-Chi Chan (Mathematics), Rebecca Landsberg (Biology), Dennis Ruez (Team Leader; Environmental Studies), and Carrie Switzer (Psychology) – completed an institutional assessment on the extent, culture, and campus support of undergraduate research efforts, scholarly products, and creative works. While the conference was focused specifically on undergraduate research in STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), the UIS team approached the task with a broader perspective to include undergraduate students of all majors as well as graduate students.

“The conference provided much information on the transformative potential of incorporating student research within curricula, student assessment, faculty evaluations, and campus marketing,” said Ruez.

The UIS team has created a set of goals and strategies along those lines, and will initiate efforts at informing the campus community about the benefits of student research, not only to students, but to faculty, alumni, and our community.

There are 26 COPLAC colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada. UIS is the only one in Illinois. COPLAC institutions have several core values in common:
  • Faculty are dedicated to teaching undergraduates
  • Classes are small and students receive personal attention and mentoring
  • Students work with professors, not graduate assistants
  • Leadership and co-curricular opportunities abound
  • Emphasis is on civic engagement and service learning
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