Tag Archives: Stacey Kiser

Undergraduate Research Field Trips

In my last posts, I noted the college’s plans to eliminate the Honors Program. Although the Board of Education has not officially voted on the final budget, it will do so at tomorrow’s Board meeting. When I know what next year’s version of honors will look like as students complete the program, I will add a post with that information. In the meantime, I want to focus on what the Honors Program has been about for seven years: building scholars and providing opportunities for undergraduate research.

In the Invitation to Inquiry Seminar held each winter, the students visit the University of Oregon’s Special Collections Library. There are previous posts describing this event and sharing photos on this blog.

In the Capstone Seminar held each spring, the students visit the University of Oregon’s (UO) Undergraduate Research Symposium, the Lane Community College Poster Day, and Oregon State University’s (OSU) Honors Thesis Fair. They also put on their own Honors Spring Symposium (I’ll blog about this soon as the symposium is tomorrow!).

There are several benefits to attending the UO’s Undergraduate Research Symposium. These benefits include becoming more familiar with, and comfortable on, the UO campus; seeing examples of research posters; reading a range of abstracts in the symposium program; and attending panel presentations. All of these benefits allow the students to see their research in context of other student research, to build confidence, and to take what they learn from the symposium and apply it to their own projects and assignments in the seminar. In short, this field trip supports the college’s Core Learning Outcome: Apply Learning.

Visiting the college’s own poster day builds on the UO visit by showing students the research projects other students at our college are engaged in and the quality of their posters. This event is organized by honors science faculty, Stacey Kiser, who also team-teaches the two honors seminars with me. Viewing the posters and talking with fellow students helps the seminar students see their work in the context of fellow Lane students.

Lane Poster Day

Another example of a Lane science poster.

Finally, the trip to the OSU provides examples of the research and educational experiences of other honors students. We have an information session at the OSU Honors College where the students learn about the requirements for transfer students and see the honors lounge, workroom, and classrooms. 

OSU Honors College Info Session

We also review the abstracts for the honors posters, walk through the poster session, and talk with students about their work.

Students viewing OSU research posters.

This trip provides a context for honors research, presents sample abstracts and posters that the students can consider when creating their own, and helps make them more comfortable on the OSU campus. It was gratifying to hear students talking about applying to the OSU Honors College after our visit!

Having seen the presentations, poster, and pamphlet the students will share at the Honors Spring Symposium tomorrow, I know the value of these field trips and the impact they have on the students’ own research and on their sense of themselves as scholars moving forward into their academic careers.

 

Invitation to Inquiry Seminar 2017

This year, Stacey Kiser and I are making some changes to the Honors Invitation to Inquiry seminar to better support the course goals of engaging in undergraduate research and thinking critically about the research process.

Winter has two official holidays, and each year we miss two days of class. Since the seminar only meets twice a week, those missed days impact the students’ research projects and our focused discussions on critical thinking. This year, we are experimenting with a Wednesday/Friday seminar so that we can have the maximum amount of time working face to face with the students in class.

We’ve also asked the students to do some reading prior to the first class meeting. In addition to reading the first two chapters in the textbook, The Craft of Research by Wayne Booth, Gregory Colomb, and Joseph Williams,

we also assigned a chapter from Teaching for Critical Thinking: Tools and Techniques to Help Students Question Their Assumptions by Stephen Brookfield.

In the past, the class read an excerpt from the first chapter of this book. While this book was written for instructors, the students have done well understanding and applying the portions of the chapter they have read. It seemed reasonable to ask them to read the complete chapter and apply all of that material to their interrogation of academic research.

Finally, we have made the ePortfolio work more central to in-class activities as well as work assigned outside of class time. In addition to building and developing ePortfolios, students will be doing more processing and reflecting within their ePortfolios during class. ePortfolios can have an important impact on equity and student success, as addressed in the latest issue of the AAC&U’s publication, Peer Review.

These elements align with the college’s strategic directions and with the college’s and the Honors Program’s recognition of the importance of adopting an equity lens and always striving to support student success.

Check back for future posts about how these changes worked, student responses, and/or what additional modifications we made to the seminar once we were into the term!

Honors and the Writing Center

This morning, I had a great conversation with Casey Reid, the Writing Center Coordinator. We explored ways in which the Honors Program and the Writing Center could support one another. Casey had some exciting ideas that I think will be beneficial to students.

Honors students could be course-embedded tutors for other classes. This option will take some time, as embedded tutors work best when the student and faculty member have already met in a class and established a relationship. There are also scheduling issues to consider, especially given that our students often have jobs and families in addition to taking a full load of classes. Nevertheless, it would be an excellent way for students to engage in experiential learning. I look forward to talking with our coordinator for honors experiential learning and honors cooperative education, Gerry Meenaghan.

Additionally, tutors could be embedded in honors classes, offering a resource to the students in the class and also helping the tutors further develop their skills. I can see this working well in several honors classes, including the seminars.

Our initial steps will be to check in with the current honors writing instructors, Amy Beasley, Anne McGrail, and Eileen Thompson, about these possibilities and to see if there is interest in pursuing them this year. I will also talk with my co-instructor in the seminars, Stacey Kiser, about ways that an embedded tutor could work, especially as the enrollments this year are growing.

Delivering on Our Promise

My colleague, Stacey Kiser, recently shared an article from The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Honors Colleges Promise Prestige, but They Don’t All Deliver.” While the Lane Honors Program is not focused on prestige, aspects of the article do relate to our program. The article accurately claims that some honors colleges may promise a lot to students but not fulfill their promises.

opportunity image

Honors colleges are not always fully supported by their institutions, and without that support, they simply can’t provide all the services and opportunities to the students who attend them.

The same can be said of honors programs. Without adequate support, and as my colleague Elaine Thompson has pointed out, a clear sense of where the program fits within the institution’s organizational framework, it is challenging to offer the necessary academic and co-curricular opportunities to students.

The Lane Honors Program has had support from the college, but the amount and form of this support has changed several times over the past five years. The result is that our enrollments have decreased and many honors students transfer before they colhp_logo_color_version_2_0mplete the program. The students who complete the program and transfer report back that the program had a significant impact on their success at their university, which makes those of us working on honors at Lane even more determined to see this program thrive.

In fall of 2015, the college demonstrated its increased support of the program by creating the full time faculty coordinator position that I now hold. This spring, the Honors Leadership Team and a special work group are overseeing the restructuring of the program to help students more successfully navigate the program and to ensure that they are able to complete the program before transferring. We are exploring several possibilities: instituting a version of the guided pathway model, offering honors classes during fall and spring, and running the honors seminars in the winter.

I’m excited about the growing energy around honors education at Lane. I appreciate that colleagues are stepping up to offer new honors classes and to participate on the leadership team and work group. With the college’s commitment to increased marketing, we will be able to raise student awareness of the program. With the changes to the program’s structure, more students will be able to complete the program and take advantage of its transfer agreements with four-year schools.