Professional and Alumni

Schreyer National Conference

Schreyer National Conference on Innovations in Undergraduate Research and Honors Education, Penn State University, March 30, 31, April 1, 2001.


In attendance were three representatives of the Undergraduate Research Community for the Human Sciences: Julia R. Miller, Michigan State University; Greg Sanders, North Dakota State University; and Dorothy I. Mitstifer, Kappa Omicron Nu. Summarized below are some highlights of the Conference. The National Collegiate Honors Council will distribute a proceedings publication and contact information will be distributed when it is available. In the meantime, we are pleased to share some of the things we learned.

J   Julia, Greg, and Dorothy


Carol F. Whitfield, Associate Professor, Penn State College of Medicine "Developing, Implementing and Assessing Problem-Based Learning:  Promise, Potential and Peril." (Greg Sanders)

Problem-based learning involves a focus on a real-life problem.  Learners use their current knowledge to develop ideas and hypotheses about the problem, and take a self-study approach to developing learning objectives and the discovery of information related to those objectives.  The faculty person is a facilitator to this process, guiding learners but encouraging the self-study approach. 

Whitfield suggested that the benefits for students of this learning process included self-learning skills, greater depth of understanding and better recall, the ability to more easily apply information and the ability to locate information.  As a result of problem-based learning experiences students learn to work in groups and improve communication skills.  

Because the focus of this approach is on an in-depth study of problem, the breadth of material covered in a class will be sacrificed to some extent.  Faculty must be prepared to facilitate the process and this can be a considerable change from the lecturing mode.  They must prepare the students for the self-learning process and provide adequate time for problem-focused learning.    


Eva Pell - Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School, Penn State University.  "Encouraging Students from Underrepresented Groups to Pursue Opportunities in Research and Graduate Education" (Greg Sanders)

Dr. Pell presented information on summer research opportunities, which include

  • Research Internships
  • Campus-based workshops
  • Research conference

Undergraduates from underrepresented groups come from a number of institutions for the program. The summer program includes a team building experience for the undergraduates to encourage mutual support and a sense of belonging.  Professional development for the students focuses on library techniques; choosing mentors; applying for graduate school; writing a paper; preparing for the GRE; and survival skills for grad school.

Penn State also conducts the Fattoh Conference focused on succeeding in Graduate School. First year graduate students attend a Retention Conference that includes information on networking; what to expect in 1st year; and how to write a dissertation. An Achievement Conference for Graduate Students focuses on the importance of getting involved in research; research writing; getting published; being a good graduate student in your department. 

Other ideas discussed in the session included

  • Small-group networking and creating linkages between undergraduate experiences and graduate school opportunities.
  • Graduate students could be invited to be speakers in undergraduate classes and student organizations to discuss graduate school as an option and how to prepare for it.
  • Assistantships for underrepresented students would be another opportunity to support graduate education for this group.  The importance of communicating benefits of graduate school to underrepresented groups was emphasized.   


John Gordes, University of Maryland "Discovery Projects:  A Process Rediscovered" (Greg Sanders)

This undergraduate research program is for sophomore-level students.  The students take independent study to learn basic research skills and experience a variety of research methods.  The students study in an area of personal interest in self-selected projects and the program evaluation focuses on the impact on retention, academic success, and satisfaction.  These students learn about the process of research through a well-structured project using secondary or primary data.  Students keep a journal so they can reflect weekly on the process of their research experience.  While they work one-to-one with a faculty member, they also connect with subject matter experts.  Keys to success include defining the scope of the research early in the project and having a strong peer support network.


Diane Harvey, University of Maryland and Carol Wright, Penn State University "Supporting Research"

A Difference That Libraries and Librarians Can Make (Julia R. Miller)

Typically students think of the librarian as an individual who will guide them in the process of using the library or someone who will check out books for their classes.  Although librarians provide these services for students and faculty, often, they and the many information sources they can access and the wealth of information they have access to are untapped resources in the teaching-learning environment.

As faculty engaging students in teaching and learning, it is of utmost importance to know the structure and organization of our libraries on campus.  There are several questions for which answers should be sought.  Some of these questions include: What unique holdings is our library known for?  How many branch libraries exist?  What unique services will the library provide?  Who are the subject-specialist librarians?  What disciplines do the librarians represent?

Recently, while attending a national conference on "Innovations in Undergraduate Research and Honor Education" at Pennsylvania State University, an interesting session was available to attendees related to library support for research.  Two librarians shared their experiences in working with undergraduate researchers and faculty.  They discussed their roles as team teachers with faculty and mentors to students.  The undergraduates they served were engaged in interdisciplinary, team-based research.  Some of the students were enrolled in capstone courses that may have required a thesis, while others were actively involved in a variety of projects exploring society-relevant, disciplinary and interdisciplinary issues.

In the educative process that these librarians were involved with, students needed assistance in identifying and clarifying research problems, researching and writing literature reviews, selecting methodology and research designs, collecting and analyzing data, and preparing final reports.  Both the faculty members and librarians worked in partnership to develop the scholarly skills of their students.  These experiences were rewarding for everyone involved--the faculty, librarians and students.

One of the presenters, Carol Wright (2001) concluded her remarks related to integrating the library into the scholarship of teaching, research and outreach by emphasizing:

  • Library integration supports the goals of undergraduate research,
  • Library integration results in a more comprehensive project,
  • Library integration offers multiple service options.

As human science/human ecology/family and consumer sciences faculty and administrators beginning to develop and expand comprehensive plans for undergraduate research and service learning programs, think broadly about available resources that can make a remarkable difference.  Capitalize on the great opportunities that your libraries and librarians can provide, as they engage in building the scholarship of students matriculating in our undergraduate programs.

Wright, Carol.  Honors Thesis Research: The Role of University Libraries.  University Park, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University, 2001.  Transparencies.


David Scobey, University of Michigan "The Five P's Connecting Undergraduate Research and Community Engagement in the Arts and Humanities"

The Arts of Citizenship: An Innovative Program Promoting the Scholarship of Teaching, Research, and Outreach (Julia R. Miller)

The University of Michigan has developed a unique program in the arts and humanities.  This program, Arts of Citizenship, administered under the auspices of the Provost's Office, seeks to promote the collaborative relationship among the arts, humanities and design in community and civic life.  The program, directed by David Scobey, provides opportunities for University of Michigan faculty and students to collaborate on community projects with K-12 educators, museums, cultural institutions, public agencies and grassroots organizations.  Ultimately, the goals of the program are focused toward innovative, public-engaged teaching, research and creative initiatives.  Although Detroit is not the only site for programs, this metropolitan area is an essential venue for most projects.

The Arts of Citizenship program disburses $135,000 annually for competitive grants to faculty.  This is a small investment with great impact.  The three major goals of the program are:

1.  Public projects that bring U-M faculty and students into collaboration with local and regional educators, cultural and arts institutions, government and community groups.

2.  On-campus support for scholarship, creative work and intellectual conversation that furthers the public roles of the arts, humanities and design.

3.  Experimental teaching that links the rigorous study of culture and citizenship with experiential, practice-based learning.  (Scobey, 2000, p. 2)

This unique intellectual experiment focuses on promoting innovation rather than ongoing institutional programs.  Examples of projects include:

  • Local and regional art exhibits to increase understanding of the parallel and converging traditions of Southern Blacks and Appalachian whites.
  • Intergroup community-building projects involving Spanish-language students at U-M Dearborn and Mexican-American Detroiters.
  • Visual art and creative writing workshops in juvenile detention centers.
  • An exhibit on Pompeii and a pilot high-school program on the importance of a cycle of ancient Pompeiian paintings to contemporary art and to an understanding of the women of the Roman Empire.
  • A video documentary about women prisoners in Michigan seeking clemency.
  • An analysis of the role of grassroots organizations in the urban planning process for a multi-ethnic, multi-racial, economically diverse neighborhood in Ann Arbor.
  • A huge outdoor mural that depicts the history of Flint, Michigan, outlined by U-M students and painted in by hundreds of community volunteers.
  • Workshops in clay art, led by U-M students, for blind and visually impaired children and adults across the state of Michigan.
  • An exhibit of photographic and written descriptions of Detroit centers of various world religions, as part of a national project.
  • Prototype housing designs for urban neighborhoods with large tracts of abandoned land.  (Scobey, 2000, pp. 3-4)

Experimental teaching and learning that result from this program provide dynamic opportunities for students, faculty and community engagement.  The outcomes and impacts of the program have been mutually beneficial for the students and community in addressing the larger intellectual and ethical issues of community based cultural experiences.  The Arts of Citizenship program is an excellent model for the scholarship of teaching, research, and outreach.


Scobey, D.  (2000).  Program Statement: University of Michigan Arts of Citizenship Program.  Unpublished paper, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.


Rodney Erickson, Executive Vice President & Provost, Penn State University "Why Involve Students in Research" (Dorothy Mitstifer)

Two words that answer the question are "transforming" and "engaging." Further detail is indicated below.

Benefits to students

· Career Connections

· Relevance of knowledge and learning

· Motivation for learning

· Financial reward and academic credit

· Mentor relationships with faculty

· Problem solving and critical thinking

· Learning to work in teams

· Writing and presentation skills

· Published research

· Self-confidence

Benefits to the university


· Bring energy and enthusiasm

· Ask insightful questions

· Contribute to the world of knowledge

Undergraduate research

· Breaks down divisions between students and faculty

· Strengthens university requests for research funding

· Valuable recruiting tool

Values added

· Teaching and learning support each other

· Undergraduate education benefits

· Personal interaction

· Options for specialized study

· Leadership development

Costs/Trade-offs of research-based teaching

· Easiest to implement in small classes

· Slightly more time initially

· Adjustments for faculty and students

· May trade breadth of content for greater depth

· Not best approach for all students or all learning

Administrative support offered by Penn State

· Block grants to colleges, grants exclusively for undergraduate research with requirement of matching funds from the college

· Urban service learning - Philadelphia Field Project re: poverty

· Undergraduate research publication

· All campus undergraduate research poster day


Alan Jenkins, Oxford Brookes University, United Kingdom "How (or whether?) to Integrate Research into Classroom Teaching for All students and All Higher Education Institutions" (Dorothy Mitstifer)

As an educational developer/researcher, Jenkins is working with colleagues on a UK national three-year curriculum development project to link teaching, research, and consultancy in built environment disciplines. He demonstrated various active learning approaches with the audience: organizing the group to work and energizing the learning environment.

Small groups used the rich resources within the group to consider the following topics:

· Undergraduate research should be for (a) all students and (b) selected students.

· Institutional strategies to link teaching and research

 Selected groups shared the highlights of discussions.

 The paper distributed by Jenkins highlighted the following sub-topics in support of his overall topic:

· A Brave Institutional Commitment - enhancing the links between research activity and teaching in order to ensure that students and faculty benefit from learning and teaching in a research environment.

· The Classic Connections - noted the UK and US perspectives that "student involvement in research is an efficacious way to educate throughout the education system the great mass of students, as well as the elite performers, for the inquiring society into which we are rapidly moving" (Clark, 1997).

· The Lack of Interactions between Research and Teaching; The Evidence from Surveys of Practice - lack of interaction caused by students not tasting research, faculty not appreciating the nature of the connection or not having a language to talk about it, no mission or mechanisms in institutions.

· The Lack of Positive/Causal Interactions between Research and Teaching; The Evidence from Research - the myth endures that good teachers are good researchers; the research shows that at best teaching and research are loosely coupled; research-oriented faculty increase student dissatisfaction (Astin, 1993) and impact negatively on most measures of cognitive and affective development.

· Disconnecting Research and Teaching: The Pressures for Research Selectivity and the Impacts of Selectivity (the challenge of a "mass higher education system") - misplaced priorities to research (Boyer, 1990), the pressures for research selectivity, problems of class size, differing student motivations, competition of research with professional practice, budget cuts, information technology, globalization.

· Rise of Honors Programs - selected students benefit from small classes, increased faculty to student interaction, research grants, etc.-all of which would benefit all students.

· Making Contemporary Connections: Pointers from Recent Research - connections are made through learning and course design, up-to-date courses and opportunity to know what teachers do; definitions of research in different kinds of institutions have an impact on the ability to link teaching and research.

· Overall Perspective from the Research Evidence - if we want the connection it has to be designed, and the key in part lies in how students learn. The goal must be to increase the circumstances in which teaching and research have occasion to meet and to provide rewards not only for better teaching or for better research but also for demonstrations of the integration between teaching and research. Boyer (1997) and Elton (2001, in press) agree that a positive nexus between research and teaching will require conditions in which students learn through some form of student-centered or inquiry-based approach, e.g., problem-based learning.

· Strategies for Linking Teaching and Research at the Course Level - develop student understanding of the role of research in their discipline, develop student abilities to carry out research in their discipline, and manage student experience of faculty research.

· Institutional Strategies to Link Teaching and Research - link teaching and research in the institutional mission, design means to deliver on the mission, organize events/publications to raise institutional awareness, develop/audit teaching policies and implement strategies to strengthen the teaching/research nexus, develop/audit research policies and implement strategies to strengthen the teaching/research links, ensure the nexus with induction of new faculty, ensure effective synergies between units and committees for teaching and research, ensure teaching/research links are central to promotion and tenure, develop curriculum requirements for research/capstone experiences, review time schedule to assure adequate blocks of time, publicize/celebrate/spread what has been achieved, support initiatives through external sponsorship, participate in national programs, support implementation at the college/department level.

· Departmental Strategies to Enhance the Teaching/Research Nexus - the academic department is where the most important decisions are made and the most important work is done, but the evidence is lacking to indicate that departments are managing this relationships; the evidence tends to show that managing the teaching and research workloads produces more time for research-an unintended consequence of driving research and teaching apart. To enhance the integration of teaching and research: develop departmental understanding of teaching and research relations, make it central to hiring new faculty, ensure it is fostered through faculty roles, ensure it is fostered through policies for appraisal and faculty development, develop effective synergies between research centers/course planning teams/undergraduate teaching, audit/review department based courses, develop special programs or structures to foster the nexus, pay attention to issues of departmental culture, and participate in national programs.

· Possible Strategies for National Organizations - build the synergistic relations between teaching and research into definitions of higher education institutions, ensure there are limited negative impacts from research selectivity, require research selectivity to support research areas that directly support the nexus, fund and support all institutions and faculty for scholarly activity, develop external review of teaching and research which explicitly support the linkage, and fund/support institutional and disciplinary projects that support the nexus.

Astin, A. W. (1993). What matters in college: Four critical years revisited. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Boyer, E. (1987). College: The undergraduate experience in America. New York: Harper Collins.

Boyer, E. (1990). Scholarship reconsidered: Priorities of the professoriate. Princeton, NJ: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Clark, B. R. (1997). The modern integration of research activities with teaching and learning, Journal of Higher Education, 68, 30, 242-255.

Elton, L. (2001). Research and teaching: What are the real relationships? Teaching in Higher Education.

Jenkins, A., Breen, R., & Lindsay R. (forthcoming). Linking teaching and research: A guide for academics and policy makers. Birmingham, UK: Staff and Educational Development Association.

Sandra Gregerman, Director of the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, University of Michigan "Undergraduate Research Program Model" (Dorothy Mitstifer)

UROP is an innovative leaning community to improve academic success and retention. It targets underrepresented students of color and women in science students.

Program Rationale:

· Many students of color do not identify with academic mission of institutions and don't feel welcome.

· Close contact with faculty outside the classroom is key to retention of diverse students.

· Research is not a remedial approach to retention.

· An invitation to participate in faculty research sends an important message to students about belonging.

· Development of research skills also develops critical academic skills.

· Faculty contact with diverse students informs faculty about the value of diversity and barriers students face.

UROP components:

· Research activities - students spend 6-12 hours per week engaged in research activities.

· Individual Peer Advising - students meet month with peer advisors to follow progress of research project and talk about academics.

· Research Peer Groups - students meet bimonthly to share information about research, hear research presentations, discuss research ethics, participate in skill building workshops

· Research Symposia

Program Evaluation: (Note: The program evaluation model is substantive and probably the most comprehensive evaluation program in the nation for undergraduate research.)

· Five-year longitudinal evaluation

· Pre and post test design

· Experimental and control groups

· Academic data

· Pre and post test for faculty

· Focus groups

· Beeper study

· Alumni survey


· African-American students in UROP show a 51% higher retention rate than those in the control group.

· A comparison of attrition rates between UROP students and underrepresented students campus wide was 32% lower.

· Attrition for white and Asian students was 0% vs. 12% for those in the control group.

· UROP seems to have an effect on self-esteem, coping strategies, learning behaviors, expectations about academic performance, and encourages proactive behavior.

· Students of color in UROP feel more supported by the University than those in the control group.

Learning Outcomes:

· Academic coursework made relevant.

· Develops critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

· Communication skills including listening, public speaking, writing.

· Computer/technology skills.

· Advanced library research sills including Web searches.

· Statistical skills.

· Ability to work independently.

· Multicultural skills.

Faculty Learning:

· Appreciation for diversity in research teams.

· Knowledge of the obstacles and barriers faced by diverse students.

· Surprise that undergrads can contribute to research.

· Positive feelings about Affirmative Action.

· Appreciation of the talents diverse students bring to research.

· Experience in mentoring diverse students.