posted March 30, 2011

Hope Chosen to Present National Webinar on Undergraduate Research

Hope College's success in teaching through original, collaborative research and creative performance will become a resource for colleges and universities around the country during the forthcoming national Undergraduate Research Week (April 11-16).

The Washington, D.C.-based Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) has singled out Hope to present a webinar that is being made available to educators nationally to help others better take the same approach.

"Hope has been a leader nationally in teaching students effectively through original research with members of the faculty and creative performance opportunities," said Dr. Nancy Hensel, who is CUR's executive officer.  "Hope's highly successful program serves as an outstanding example, and CUR invited Dr. Moses Lee, who is dean for the natural and applied sciences and professor of chemistry, and Hope to present the webinar so that other institutions can benefit from the college's experience in implementing its program and perspective on how student learning is enhanced."

Hope will be presenting the webinar, "Transformational Learning through Undergraduate Research and Creative Performance," on Tuesday, April 12, at 2 p.m.  To make the event accessible to as many as possible, CUR is offering the event at no cost.

Students at Hope engage in collaborative research with the faculty during both the school year and the summer across the campus.  The summer program regularly hosts some 170 students engaged in research full-time for eight to 10 weeks, including not only students from Hope but also students from other colleges and universities and from area high schools.

The webinar will discuss the value of undergraduate research and creative performance in promoting learning, the resources available to develop and enhance such programs, the transformation of student learning at Hope through research, and the caliber of research that can be pursued while involving undergraduate student collaborators.  The presentation will review the development of the approach at Hope across more than five decades, from its advent in the natural and applied sciences to its use across all disciplines at Hope.  In addition, there will be discussion on studies to demonstrate that research, even in the context of a classroom, will benefit student learning.

In addition to Dr. Lee, the presenters, speaking from campus through the online event, will be Dr. Lorna Hernandez Jarvis, professor of psychology; Dr. William Pannapacker, associate professor of English; and Dr. Michael Seymour, professor of chemistry.

Hensel will serve as the event's moderator from CUR's offices in Washington, D.C.  She will have been at the college just the day before.  On Monday, April 11, she will deliver the address "Making Explicit the Implicit: Defining Undergraduate Research" at 2:30 p.m. in the DeWitt Center main theatre as the opening keynote event for Hope's six-day celebration of the national week.  Admission to Hensel's address is free.

The week of April 11 has been declared National Undergraduate Research Week by the U.S. House of Representatives.  The resolution describes undergraduate research as "essential to pushing the Nation's innovation agenda forward by increasing the interest and persistence among young people in the crucial science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, and to cultivating the interest of would-be researchers who pursue a new aspiration of graduate education after participating in undergraduate research."

In addition to Hensel's opening keynote, the college's commemoration will include multiple presentations in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural and applied sciences across the week.  The numerous activities open to the public include concerts in music and dance, an art exhibition, a play, multiple lectures and panel discussions about involvement in research, and the annual Celebration of Undergraduate Research and Creative Performance featuring poster presentations on more than 200 projects in which more than 360 students participated.

Learning through research has been a teaching philosophy at the college for more than half a century.  The late Dr. Gerrit Van Zyl, who taught chemistry at the college from 1923 to 1964, is widely recognized for developing research-based learning at Hope in its modern sense.  More than 100 years ago, biologist Dr. Samuel O. Mast had designed research laboratory space for the college's Van Raalte Hall, which opened in 1903.

Hope has received recognition in a variety of ways through the years for its model of teaching through collaborative faculty-student research.

Hope holds five awards through the National Science Foundation's "Research Experiences for Undergraduates" program, in biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics and physics. Among all institutions nationwide, including major research universities, fewer than a dozen hold more of the grants.

Overall in terms of NSF support, Hope received the sixth-highest total in funding in 2010 out of all institutions in Michigan, surpassed only by five Ph.D.-granting universities.  Hope is the only college or university in the country to have received "Beckman Scholar Award" support for student research from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation of Irvine, Calif., since the foundation began the program in 1998.

Since the category debuted in 2003, the "America's Best Colleges" guide published by "U.S. News and World Report" has included Hope on its listing of approximately three dozen institutions that it cites as exceptional for their emphasis on undergraduate research and creative projects. The guide also includes Hope among the top 100 national liberal arts colleges in the U.S.

Among other recognitions historically, in 1998 Hope was one of only 10 liberal arts institutions in the nation to be recognized for innovation and excellence in science instruction by the NSF with an "Award for the Integration of Research and Education" (AIRE), and in 1994 Project Kaleidoscope named the program in the natural applied sciences a "Whole Program That Works"--a model for other institutions to emulate.