2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 27-3
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-5:30 PM


YELDERMAN Jr., Joe C.1, TAYLOR, Kori2, WONG, Stephanie2 and HAMILTON, Wayne2, (1)Department of Geology, Baylor University, One Bear Place #97354, Waco, TX 76798, (2)Geology, Baylor University, One Bear Place #97354, Waco, TX 76798, Joe_Yelderman@baylor.edu

Research at the undergraduate level can be difficult and time consuming for students and faculty alike, but it also can be rewarding when students are successful. Many professors use class projects in upper level undergraduate courses to propel students toward a deeper understanding of subject matter and improve student skill sets. Many schools encourage undergraduate theses to strengthen degrees and prepare students for research demands in graduate school. This study assumes the previously mentioned goals are achievable and agrees with the implied potential benefits. However, this study questions the cost-to-benefit ratio of time spent-to-achieved results when applying traditional class project and thesis assignments separately. Instead, integrating undergraduate thesis research into a class project may improve the quality of both while improving the cost-to-benefit ratio for the thesis student and professor.

The case study in progress involves a senior thesis imbedded in a hydrogeology class project, using established evaluation protocols – the Spring Inventory Protocol (SIP) and the Spring Ecosystem Assessment Protocol (SEAP) to compare and contrast two urban springs. Imbedding the senior thesis in the class project appears to have potentially strengthened the quality of both the overall class and the research. Knowing the class project could become a thesis seemed to increase student effort and focus resulting in a better end product. Meanwhile, imbedding the thesis in the class project necessitated weekly contact between the thesis student and faculty advisor, increasing opportunity for advice while actually decreasing the time demands on both parties. There are many potential benefits of integrating undergraduate thesis research with in-class projects; in-class work maximizes the efforts of students and faculty, while modelling the process of thesis-caliber research raises the bar for the students, resulting in improved class projects.