Kathy Lee Sutphin is Assistant Dean for Instructional Projects in the College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences. In her previous position as Coordinator of Special Projects in the Department of Biological Sciences, she administered and coordinated several successful undergraduate research programs. Those programs included the MARC U*STAR program, Breast Cancer Undergraduate Research Experience (BCURE), the Experiences in Molecular Biology Academic Research Careers (EMBARC) program, and the Beckman Scholars Program.
UMBC’s participation in the CASTL Leadership Program will result in several tangible outcomes. First, we will undertake a comprehensive inventory of undergraduate research at UMBC that will provide a foundation for planning and assessment. The inventory will examine each department and program and will document intended learning outcomes, current assessments, and available data. Second, for those programs that do not have formal statements of student learning outcomes, we will provide institutional support from the Faculty Development Center to enable faculty to define their goals as explicit observable learning outcomes and to select or develop appropriate assessments. A larger institutional goal, creating a culture of assessment, will also be served. By introducing assessment in a context where faculty members are already engaged and invested in their students’ success, we believe that potential resistance to such evaluation will be minimized. Third, building on the baseline of currently available data, we will identify additional approaches to data collection, both quantitative and qualitative, that are consistent with the literature on Scholarship of Teaching and Learning and with the learning outcomes desired. In collaboration with the Office of Institutional Research, we will conduct analyses of these data at an aggregated university level, as well as at a programmatic level. Substantive results of these analyses will be the primary outcomes of our participation.
We expect the results of this effort to have wide impact on the UMBC campus. Assuming that we can document the positive contribution of undergraduate research to students’ learning, faculty members will have a greater incentive to incorporate research into the undergraduate curriculum. It will be important to disseminate the results widely and often. At the local, departmental, or programmatic level, reports tailored to specific curricula can be developed, much as we have already done with other initiatives such as our First Year Seminars. At the college or university level, we will enlist deans and the Provost to communicate key findings and to engage faculty in discussions about their implications. Regularly scheduled meetings of the President’s Council, Deans’ Council, Department Chairs, and the Faculty Senate will provide such opportunities. We also envision the assessment aspects of this work to inform development of a campus-wide assessment plan.
An essential part of our participation will be the expectation that the results of our work will be submitted for critical discussion by other participants in the CASTL Leadership Program and that the knowledge and insights we gain will be submitted for publication in suitable journals.