Monday, August 2, 2004
10:30 AM–12:30 PM
(59) EXPLORING THE VALUE OF UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH IN ASSOCIATE DEGREE PROGRAMS.
Way, Amy1, 1 Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania, Clearfield, PA
ABSTRACT- There is tremendous value in involving undergraduates in scientific research. Research experience can provide opportunities for learning that cannot be duplicated in the lecture room or classroom laboratory. Investigating a scientific question in conjunction with, rather than for a faculty mentor allows the student to take ownership of the project, which enriches the experience for both the student and the mentor. Lock Haven University is predominantly a teaching university, and the Clearfield campus houses associate degree programs in nursing and allied health. As such, the science courses currently offered at the Clearfield campus are limited to those that fulfill basic general education requirements or those that service the associate degree nursing program. Students who wish to further their knowledge in the sciences must drive 55 miles to the main campus or attend another university. Additionally, most of our students come from economically depressed areas of rural Pennsylvania characterized by relatively low levels of educational achievement. Many are first generation college students and those who may lack academic role models at home. Their exposure to the sciences is likely to be limited. After giving consideration to the benefits of offering research experiences to these undergraduates, a small research program in reproductive biology was established at our campus. Students were offered the opportunity to conduct research for academic credit if they had a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher and had obtained second semester sophomore or junior status. The research was conducted in the teaching laboratory, which allowed other students to observe the project as it was in progress. The experience was designed to enhance student learning of the scientific method, aseptic technique, female reproductive anatomy, cell culture and protein chemistry. Additionally, it provided students with experience in data collection, analysis, evaluation and interpretation. This project stimulated substantial student discussion between those who conducted the work and those who observed it in progress. As a result, several projects stemming from this initial research are planned for the next academic year.
KEY WORDS: associate degree, undergraduate research