URSA F388 Undergraduate Research and Creative Scholarship I

2-6 credits; times as arranged with instructor

Course Description: Undergraduate research refers to a collaboration in original research and/or creative activity between an undergraduate student and a faculty member, leading to work which is presentable to scholars in the field. Research projects may be an element of the faculty member's work or could be initiated by the student. Undergraduate Research offers opportunities for student research in advanced topics beyond typical undergraduate course offerings. Enrolled students are required to make a poster presentation of their project and turn in a progress report. Research areas range across all disciplines. A substantial level of discipline-specific background, a level commensurate with having achieved junior or senior standing, is assumed.

Course Goals: Involvement in research can be an important ingredient in a successful and satisfying undergraduate program in various disciplines. Undergraduate Research gives students a chance to discuss research projects with faculty members, participate in ongoing projects in research laboratories, write a research report and present a research poster. As a research university, UAF strives to communicate to undergraduate students how research and scholarly activity is conducted.  Accordingly, the course goals of URSA 388 are that students learn, through direct research experience, how discipline-specific knowledge is created and how to communicate research results in oral, written and performance formats.

Student Learning Outcomes:

The intended outcomes of URSA 388 are that students learn, through direct research experience, how discipline-specific knowledge is created and how to communicate research results in oral, written and performance formats. Specifically students will learn:

1.       tools, skills and techniques specific to the discipline that encompasses their project

2.       critical thinking skills leading to ability to engage in research, to interpret results and to formulate future questions and directions

3.       to communicate research motivations, results and conclusions in oral, written, poster and performance formats.

Instructional Methods & Course Activities:

Course Meetings   Classes will be held during the first 2 weeks of the semester.   The purpose of these classes is to assist students in identifying research mentors and insure each student completes any training required for research participation in their chosen discipline.   Attendance is mandatory even if the student has a research project and has completed all necessary training.

Course Projects    The research project should be envisioned as a component of a publication in a peer-reviewed journal or a public performance. It should be well-defined, stand a reasonable chance of completion in the available time, apply and develop an understanding of in-depth concepts and be grounded in the primary scholarly literature.

Finding a project   First-time 388 students, or returning students planning to work with a different professor, must meet with at least three faculty members to discuss possible projects. The signatures of the three faculty members must be obtained on the attached form. After these meetings the student will select a research project and mentor, as well as write a half-page description outlining the proposed project, including one reference, on the attached form. The project description must be submitted by 5 PM of the 3rd Friday of the semester (please also send a copy to the research mentor). The project description should be written in consultation with the research mentor. For information about faculty and their research areas, visit the faculty web pages at http://www.uaf.edu/. Continuing students must submit a project description outlining each semester's proposed research.

Number of credits   Credits are assigned at the beginning of the semester when students enroll, but may be subject to change as the result of consultation between the student and professor. Two credits of URSA 388 is reserved generally for literature research or small computational projects. In general, 3 credits provide an absolute minimum amount of time to accomplish a studio-, laboratory- or field-based project; 4 credits may be appropriate if the student has a large ongoing project with plenty of available time. Six credits of URSA 388 are acquired by students who enroll in 388 for multiple semesters. Each credit of 388 corresponds to an average weekly minimum of 3 hours working productively in the laboratory/field/studio, plus 1-2 hours additional work on the project (planning, interpretation, notebook writing and background reading).

Progress report   Each semester a final report, written according to the format of a manuscript to be submitted to a research journal or the discipline-specific equivalent, is required. Early in the semester the student and mentor should decide on an appropriate format. Midway through the semester the student should begin writing the report.   Copies of the report are to be submitted to both the research mentor and the instructor no later than 5 PM on the last day of final exams for the semester.   Reports must be well-written, comprehensive and contain appropriate citations. Although oral presentations, poster presentations, and journal article co-authorship are valuable, they do not substitute for the student writing a comprehensive report.

Public Presentation (poster)   Each spring, students must present a poster at the Research Day, which is held the last Tuesday of April each year. Continuing students present a poster describing their most recent results. The usual size is 36" x 48", but other sizes may be appropriate if the student will be presenting a poster at a regional or national conference.The cost of poster printing will be paid by URSA.

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