THE HISTORY, CURRENT BEST PRACTICES, AND FUTURE TRAJECTORY OF THE INDEPENDENT STUDY (I.S.) PROGRAM AT THE COLLEGE OF WOOSTER
After 60+ years, I.S. has matured into a flagship program with campus-wide support, allowing us to develop best practices in undergraduate research. Through intentional curriculum mapping, students learn concepts and skills that increase in complexity and independence as they approach I.S. Our approach to mentoring provides guidance and support while holding students accountable, and emphasizes collaboration. Collaboration is the future of I.S.; in 2011-12, we implemented our first collaborative I.S. project: Team Utah. Students initially resisted the concept of collaboration, but the act of working toward a common goal was so effective that the department has fully adopted the team model. To aid in collaboration, we use technology (Dropbox, Zotero) and were featured for our technology use in the 2013 NMC Horizon Report. The report predicts that “openness” will be the number one driver of technology in higher education. Although Wooster recently adopted an open access policy, the geology department has been openly sharing our research experiences since 2009 through the departmental blog. The blog serves as a platform for communicating I.S. to a wide audience that includes our administration, alumni, and students.
This presentation reflects on the entirety of I.S.: history, current practices, and future.