2002 Denver Annual Meeting (October 27-30, 2002)

Paper No. 8
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


HAGEMAN, Scott A. and WOLFGEHER, NeQuelle, Department of Geology, Park Univ, 8700 NW River Park Drive, Parkville, MO 64152, shageman@mail.park.edu

Park University has recently revamped its honors program, which now focuses on research projects as the key component of earning honors. The new program consists of four semesters of coursework, a research project, and a presentation at a professional conference. A committee and a faculty mentor monitor the student’s progress each semester. The geology department currently has one student in the honors program. The purpose of this student’s research project is to investigate the paleoecology of the Kansas City Group (Upper Pennsylvanian) exposed on campus. This investigation focuses on 1) collecting samples, 2) measuring sections, 3) analyzing fossils and sedimentary features, and 4) constructing a geologic map. For the faculty mentor, there are several pros of supervising a research project. The mentor gets the satisfaction of passing on knowledge and developing critical thinking skills in students. Developing an undergraduate/faculty working relationship outside of a lecture setting and working with highly motivated students is refreshing. The cons include a huge time commitment, an increased workload with no extra pay, working with students with a limited geology background, and a lack of funds to aid in research and travel. For the student, the pros include gaining valuable experience from collecting, analyzing, and presenting the research, which is extremely beneficial for students bound for graduate school. Developing a working relationship with a faculty member outside of the typical lecture setting is inspiring for most undergraduates. The cons are time, money, and pressure. It is a large time expenditure for the student and takes away from other studies and activities. The honors courses are also incurred as an additional tuition cost, and the students are commonly burdened by out of pocket expenses for miscellaneous supplies. Assessment of the new honors program is based on the productivity of the current honor students, thus adding to the pressure to succeed.