Research opportunities for faculty, students grow increasingly at APSUConducting research â€“ whether quantitative or qualitative â€“ might not always go as planned. However, thats the beauty of research â€“ finding out what works and what doesnt.
Sometimes with research, you might get disagreeing data, maybe something that is the complete opposite of what you expected, said Riley McCormick, an undergraduate student researcher at Austin Peay State University. Research has taught me to be more flexible and to mold to whatever the situation requires to make the project the best it could be.
Conducting research — whether quantitative or qualitative — might not always go as planned. However, that's the beauty of research — finding out what works and what doesn't.
“Sometimes with research, you might get disagreeing data, maybe something that is the complete opposite of what you expected,” said Riley McCormick, an undergraduate student researcher at Austin Peay State University. “Research has taught me to be more flexible and to mold to whatever the situation requires to make the project the best it could be.”
McCormick, who monitors bat species in Dunbar Cave with Dr. Andrew Barrass of the APSU Center of Excellence for Field Biology, is one of several APSU students who participate in research, either solo or with a faculty member.
Perhaps more than ever, students and faculty at APSU are being encouraged to embrace scholarly inquiry through research and creative activity as part of an increased, comprehensive focus for faculty and students at APSU.
Currently, specific to research, APSU has established new opportunities and continued other initiatives for undergraduate students, graduate students and faculty.
Summer Research Fellows Program (SRFP)
The first Summer Research Fellows Program (SRFP) will award up to $5,000 for up to 10 proposals by tenured or tenure-track faculty to develop a research project that should place them in a better position to seek external funding.
“By increasing the number of external grants, APSU will have more money to operate and reward faculty who continue engagement in scholarly activity,” said Dr. Dixie Dennis, associate provost of Grants and Sponsored Programs. “Specific to the teaching focus at APSU, results from research studies indicate that faculty who engage in research and creative activities are better teachers.”
Also hoped through the SRFP is that some of these faculty research projects will involve undergraduate and graduate students.
“The benefit of more faculty being engaged in research attracts faculty to APSU who also enjoy being engaged in research,” Dennis said.
Three offices — Academic Affairs, Grants and Sponsored Research and the College of Graduate Studies — are funding the new SRFP program. In the Fall 2010 semester, the 10 awardees will showcase their work to the community and University.
Graduate Student Research and Creative Activity Extravaganza
Held for the first time March 2, the Graduate Student Research and Creative Activity Extravaganza will be an annual celebration to showcase the scholarly and creative pursuits of APSU's graduate students.
Graduate students were allowed to enter in one or more of the following divisions: Creative Arts and Literature Expression (e.g., musical compositions, musical performances, literary works, audio and video presentations, Web site designs), Completed Databased Research (not necessarily yet defended, a completed research project with an abstract, introduction, method, results, discussion and references) and Non-empirical Research (no collection of data).
The winner of the Completed Databased Research Project will represent APSU on April 7 at the Legislative Plaza in Nashville during Graduate Education Week.
“Until the implementation of the Extravaganza, APSU graduate students had no way to formally present their work for faculty, staff and students,” Dennis said.
During the first Extravaganza, entire classes of students viewed graduate students' poster presentations and asked question of these presenters.
“This event should increase the number of graduate students on campus who are engaged in research,” Dennis said. “In addition, undergraduate students likely will become excited about their future engagement in research and creative activities.”
As an added benefit, with this yearly event, it is hoped that APSU's fastest growing graduate program in the Tennessee Board of Regents system will continue attracting students, particularly those who are interested in being engaged in research.
Best Thesis Award
Beginning with the Spring 2010 graduating class — and for subsequent commencements in May, August and December — the College of Graduate Studies will honor a student in each department whose thesis is judged worthy of a Best Thesis Award. Graduate students whose theses, which are based on qualitative or quantitative research methods, are chosen for the honor will receive a certificate and medal to wear at graduation.
For a graduate student to qualify, the thesis must be submitted by the standard two-week, prior-to-graduation submission deadline. A committee from the Graduate Research Council automatically will judge any thesis submitted by the deadline.
“Honoring any student with a Best Thesis Award seems appropriate as the University continues to make research more of a focus for faculty and students,” Dennis said.
Provost Lecture Series
A new venue for faculty members to present their research and creative activity on campus, the Provost Lecture Series is designed to foster a spirit of intellectual and scholarly inquiry among faculty, staff and students.
The new program will be used as a platform for APSU faculty members who are recent recipients of the new Summer Faculty Research Program or who have been awarded faculty development leaves (i.e., sabbatical leaves) as well as those who have engaged in recent scholarly inquiry of acclaim. In addition, other faculty members of local or widespread renown will be given a platform within this series.
Presidential Scholars Program
APSU's most established research initiative, the Presidential Scholars Program provides $3,000 in support of each independent undergraduate research project.
Presidential Scholars selected work with a faculty mentor. The program, now under the guidance of the newly created Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR), works to promote independent research training and creative activity with scholarly merit and supports the incorporation of research training into the collegiate educational experience. Through the OUR, collaboration between faculty and students researchers is encouraged and provides students with experience in a competitive proposal process.
For Presidential Scholar James Bart Stykes, his research project, titled “Family Structure and Dynamics During Adolescence as Predictors of Gang Membership,” was “one of the best experiences in my undergraduate years, and it made me a much more marketable candidate for graduate school.”
“It was great to work one-on-one with a faculty mentor and create my own research project,” said Stykes, who worked with Dr. Tucker Brown in the APSU Department of Sociology on the research.
The selection of Presidential Scholars for the May 1, 2010, to April 30, 2011, award period will be announced April 1.
For more information about any of APSU's research programs or efforts, call Dennis at (931) 221-7415 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. -- Melony Shemberger