requiring undergraduate research

Robinson, Dr. David drobinson at
Sat Apr 14 10:12:27 EST 2001

The Biology Department I work in (a small, private college) currently
requires all Biology majors to take a 2-credit Senior Research course, where
they are expected to do independent research under the guidance of a faculty
mentor. I myself am becoming disillusioned with the poor-interest-level that
a lot of students have about their research (for instance, pre-med students
being assigned to me, a Botanist), and note the huge gap that exists between
the quality of the interaction I have with them vs. the interaction I have
with students who are sincerely interested in the topic. Its really a
night-and-day difference. 

The fact that instructors control what grades get awarded, in effect,
encourages students to study for tests, but how can we "make" a student do a
good job doing a protein assay, when they are pretty much going to get the
same grade whether they are conscientious about it or not?? Does the faculty
member have to stand with them the whole time? If so, its not really
"independent research" is it?

I know that large universities can't afford to require Student Research, but
offer it as an elective for certain students. What about smaller campuses,
though? Is Student Research required at smaller institutions?...or is it
just offered as an elective?

Thanks.  Dave Robinson, Biology Dept., Bellarmine University, Louisville,
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