Faculty Learning Community on Undergraduate Research: 2012-13


The Faculty Center in collaboration with the AVP for Research organized a Faculty Learning Community (FLC) around the theme of integrating undergraduate research into our curriculum. A group of faculty across different disciplines, colleges and the library were selected to meet monthly for a period of two semesters to discuss specific courses in which they plan to integrate an undergraduate research component, to discuss challenges that they face in attempting to incorporate undergraduate research into their courses and to develop a set of best practices that transcend disciplinary courses that can be shared with the wider community on our campus and across the CSU. Most of our discussions have focused on incorporating undergraduate research as one component into courses that are not necessarily research based courses. In other words, we believe that it is important for students to start developing a curiosity about what they are learning, a spirit of inquiry and the joy of discovery from the beginning of their coursework in college all the way through to their culminating courses. Our focus is more on those earlier courses in the majors along the way versus the culminating research course. To that end we focused on exploratory ways of building that spirit of inquiry while teaching students the course content.
List of Courses
FIN 341, Multinational Financial Management [Dr. Qi Sun]
ECON 481, Economics and Well-being [Dr. Ranjeeta Basu with Ann Fiegen]
MUSC 380, Music and the Community [Dr. Mtafiti Imara]
PHYS 380, Advanced Laboratory Techniques [Dr. Stephen Tsui]
SOC 313, Race / Ethnic Relations [Dr. Theresa Suarez]
MKT 445, Consumer Behavior [Dr. Vassilis Dalakas]

Common Student Learning Goals
1. To develop a sense of belonging to a broader learning/research community.
2. To foster a spirit of inquiry, a curiosity about the world around us, and a thirst for knowledge.
3. To understand the nature of inquiry i.e. to ask questions as part of a research methodology.
4. To develop persistence, discipline and recognition of the dialectical nature of research, i.e. a respect for and understanding of existing knowledge while creating anew.

Best Practices
1. Plan the research assignment with the subject librarian to ensure resources are available when needed for the assignment and to ensure students have the skills to access and use the disciplinary sources to complete the research.
2. When doing weekly readings ask students to identify what question the author is asking and then ask them to find additional research questions that can be generated from the reading.
3. Describe your own research in progress and walk through the process with students and solicit suggestions for next steps.
4. Modeling for students how to ask questions by building a databank of faculty talking about their research and what questions they ask and why they ask those questions.
5. Find personal and socially conscious motivators that are relevant to students for research questions, e.g. using Facebook as a data source.
6. Show and provide opportunity for a successful completion of assignment.  Model or give example of discovering previously hidden or elusive information on their topic. 
7. Work with librarian to develop best strategy for instruction in using research sources timed for the beginning of their research.
8. If monitoring research process refer students to librarians or others on campus who can guide students to digging deeper for information.
9. Focus on process versus outcome based learning objectives. Many of the learning goals listed above are about the research process versus the final research outcome. Therefore we should include those objectives in our assessment of student research.
10. Mentor students in opportunity to do further research and present a paper at research venues on and off campus – no grade.

FLC on Undergraduate Research

2010-11 End of the Year

Report