URC Planning Conference
January 15-16, 2001

Faculty Development

MEMBERS: Ann Austin, Julia Beamish, Jan Hathcote, Carol Kellett, Lauren Leach, Won Song (Task force chair)

These members represented diverse disciplines in Human Sciences, varied years of experiences, and higher education institutions with different emphases on research, teaching, or outreach. The group discussion focused on the topics outlined below.


We envisioned that the faculty development focused on research themes, an electronic community across campuses, and workshops/seminars. The discussion focused on the successful strategies and barriers prevalent in Human Sciences

Strategies. We envisioned an implementation strategy, best practices, and an incremental/developmental strategy. The planning would need to be incremental to be practical.

Barriers. We envisioned that the following barriers should be addressed: funding both in institutional level and URC level; resistance to change, time shortages; viability of themes/priorities; lack of momentum (we need a clear focus); extrinsic/intrinsic rewards; dissemination; fear of failure.


Our vision is to form a critical mass of faculty who are enthused and prepared to mentor undergraduate researchers (interdisciplinary, inter-institutional)


We envisioned the following tasks and phases of faculty development:

A. to develop (Phase 1)

B. to sustain the above (Phase 2)

C. to evaluate the success of our efforts (Phase 3).

Our plans for the Phase 1: development:

1) Identify core faculty at participating institutions;

2) Secure administrative support;

3) Identify available institutional resources

4) Develop system to facilitate communication among core faculty (listserve/online – perhaps Topica web site)

5) Develop an inventory for the best practices, successful undergraduate research models, and theme interests

6) Report with implementation/dissemination plan

7) Evaluate; plan next step via theme


Lauren Leach – topical technical support

Carol Kellett – administrative support

Jan and Ann – moderate focus groups online

NOTES: Progression of the group's discussion followed these topics:

Target population of the faculty development

Is the recipient of our focus the students or the faculty mentors? Although the ultimate beneficiary is the undergraduate students, our immediate focus will be developing faculty-mentoring models.

Emerging themes

Faculty feel overwhelmed and need incentives to engage. Or, to look at it positively, what are faculty strengths? Each faculty member is genuinely interested in student growth; at a teaching institution, research comes through class work; at a research university, research often comes from graduate student and faculty projects that involve undergraduates. Thus, we felt there was a need to identify mission of the institution to place where it’s “at”, and to explore integration of research into daily mission.

A question arose: Do we work with like institutions or is our vision/intent to foster collaboration between unlike but geographically contiguous schools?

Developing potential models

Models probably differ by: institution, discipline, faculty balance of ranks, faculty interests, and characteristics of honors programs.

Another question arose: Do we need a metamodel or framework for helping an institution identify a set of “best practices” or questions pertinent to that school? Do we need a model or process for how to develop/help institutions create a faculty development plan? Best practices for integration of undergraduate research can be shared electronically – chat rooms, etc. As best practices are pulled together we need to know what level we are aiming for.

We felt it was necessary to seek a formalization of models; that is, a benchmarking of models so that we know how to implement undergraduate research and keep an undergraduate research program going.

Definition of "undergraduate research"

We felt there was a need to articulate our definition of undergraduate research – we assume it is “beyond” a research paper, but how much “beyond”? It would be helpful to articulate a “step one” in undergraduate research –i.e. helping others collect data? Then a step 2, etc.

In order to decide “what counts” as undergraduate research, we need to decide an endpoint: to generate graduate students or to help students develop skills that support them through life? (C. Kellett)

"Undergraduate research" can be broad and inclusive. For example, literature review can generate or test "hypotheses". Activities that are driven by hypotheses (or inquiries or questions) can help undergraduate students learn and experience research (Won)

Models that promote undergraduate research may include:

  • Faculty/partner program (MSU).
  • Undergraduate research assistant program (MSU).
  • Undergraduate research proposal competition at University of Georgia
  • Honors programs in all universities
  • Undergraduate research with alumni and faculty
  • Undergraduate research assistantships for institutional research grants (MSU)
  • Career path mentoring program
  • Paired mentoring with junior/senior faculty, graduate/undergraduate students
  • Research interns/assistantships
  • Funded proposals for undergraduate student work

Next concerns

From here, what we felt was needed: recognition, dissemination of best practices of integration of undergraduate research, award programs for faculty, undergraduate conference, online journal for undergraduates research for hypothesis (or inquiry)-driven research, targeted theme centered research to foster interdisciplinary research across universities and disciplines, external funding, and showcases.


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