Paper No. 7
Presentation Time: 10:30 AM


ALLEN, Phillip P., Geography, Frostburg State University, 101, Braddock Road, Frostburg, MD 21532,

In 2011 the 400 level senior project course options were reintroduced into the Earth Science major after a c 20-year hiatus. Reestablishing an independent and original research culture within the current cohort of undergraduates has been a challenge. The students’ perspective and approach towards these courses appears to have confused a genuine senior research project with an extended essay, term paper or laboratory assignment. Changing this mindset has been key to the redevelopment of a research culture. We achieve this by exposure and participation in meaningful field and laboratory inquiry-based experiential learning activities to develop the required skillset and confidence for a research project. This has been achieved by embedding elements of research into courses throughout their early degree structure. Providing students time to apply academic knowledge to a real world situation builds experiences that contribute to a realistic understanding of research. Additionally it provides the students with opportunities where they can identify their personal preferences, in essence what themes in Earth Science honestly interests them. Understanding and cultivation of their own interests appears to have elevated the senior project from something they have to do, to something they crave to do. By doing the latter we have observed a significant change in the students mindset, attitude and approach to their research project, cumulating in a successful outcome. Furthermore expectations e.g. a poster presentations at regional GSA meetings, placed on the student from the outset have provided a carrot and stick situation; where the student is excited by the prospect of presenting at a conference (carrot) and the anxiety of the presentation (stick) helps them maintain a realistic time table and produce work to the best of their current ability. Here we present our initial structural model for the redevelopment of a research culture.