Undergrad research group notes

A ton of support for science undergrad research, but zero for humanities
Being an aide for faculty moving in this direction
“Ruckus”: getting iPads for students/faculty, made deal w/ faculty that students will use it constructively
What are other people doing in classrooms? What could be transferred to mobile?
Website documenting handouts used in writing program (“go to our website” instead of “go to Purdue”)
Undergrad research fellowship in the writing center– revising/redoing website, cataloging/archiving, where is writing center compared to peer & aspirant institutions
Comp sci– looking for interdisciplinary work; been looking for a student wanting to do linguistics work with high-performance computing
Teaching/designing introductory comp sci course, examples drawn from DH
What should go in this course?
Undergrad projects throughout undergrad career; journal, archive-building
Incorporate more digital work into general education
What do you do when your archive takes off?
How can library support research for faculty, students?
Where are the differences between what faculty and undergrads need?
Media studies
New head of library interested in accessing digital materials
Provost interested in undergrad research
How to incorporate media, “set aside curmudgeonly attitude”
(there’s a lot of pens at the welcome desk that no one wanted)
Emphasis needs to be on what you do with technology, not the technology itself
How do you use technology to communicate well?
Should there be competition between digital and fountain pen? Does one replace the other?
Digital environment isn’t always sufficient for research
A sophisticated argument is more than one screen
Enage the larger world of scholarship, not just digital
“Laptop campus” – students will be playing Angry Birds on their iPad
How do you engage students who have always done multitasking?
For us, it feels rude when most of them are looking at laptop; they feel like they’re paying attention
There’s always technology, whether we give it to them or not
Corpus studies is exploding in linguistics
Student involvement in building a corpus
What’s the difference between a digital archive and a corpus? Analyzed in different ways?
Grad students are too busy to help with research; hiring undergrads was more effective
How do you find money for that in the humanities, to fund undergrad research?
Want to see them being more than lab assistants, get credit for it, use it in the future, etc.
Don’t push them to the graduate level, but also don’t just give them gruntwork
Cornell College — one course at a time, for 3 1/2 weeks
Work with first-year students who are at a selective college, but not doing that well
Quantitative reasoning studio, academic technology studio, library (w/ consulting librarians)
Common ground is critical thinking– if a paper isn’t great, it’s not a grammar problem
Knowledge is contingent, you can make new knowledge
Getting more students engaged in digital humanities
Taking knowledge you have in a different form, thinking about it in a new way
Capstone course (in addition to first-year writing course)
Recycling digitized information is a problem for research
Try to google-proof your research topics
“How do you know…” – trivia contest (Mental Floss blog), non-googlable puzzles
Cartoon bird beaks– some of them you know, or you think you know, and have to confirm
How do you design a search that can get at that information
Teaching skills, reflection
Students were copying things before thigns were digital
How do you get students to understand that they can create knowledge too?
“Google paper” – an assertion about what something means; original trains of thought from non-Google papers
It’s not about the answers, it’s about the questions
Students have to have a research question, not thesis
The students never age, we do
Aren’t students conditioned to look for the answer, not the question?
Emphasis on testing in high school– teachers evaluated by test results
Arguments with science colleagues– want the same answer every time they ask the same question
Start with JSTOR, not Google
Students uncomfortable with there not being The Right Answer
Remix is a big deal in media studies– exciting way to get people to use sources
Find information, put it together (use sources to generate something new)
Less cut-and-paste, what does that generate?
Digital remake of collage
Explicit instructions (# of sources), different venues to go to
Find X videos, Y images, inter-lace them
Librarians show legitimate sources for these things
Use consensus to determine which are the best sources
Citation, search, generating new ideas
Zotero assignment?
Does number of sources make it product-driven, or more focus on putting things together?
Wharing, writing reflections on other people’s work
Ego is on the line, grade is on the line
Student who received a bad grade just wanted to know how to get an A
Reflection piece; talk about false starts in reflection piece (“what? point out a mistake to a profsesor in my paper?”)
Pushing undergrads across the line they learned in high school is difficult
“Show your work”
Digital tools hide some of the work in a significant way
Interesting insight going on in the process, but we don’t see where it’s coming from due to technical limitations (incompetence with tools– did X instead of Y because didn’t know how to do what they wanted)
Importance of acknowledging the self and cognitive; anxiety that digital work takes you away from the bodily/personal
Problem-based and challenge-based learning (you pick your project to solve the question “how do you get the entire campus to be more environmentally aware?”)
One group went for printing less, outreach and assessment platform
How does that translate into a humanities classroom?
Important not to build up division between Process and Product– how do you share that process and information?
Intuitive scholarship: start with a product (what they think they’ll find), the word “proof” is banned in papers
Start with a hypothesis; product is a reflection of the process of how you build towards that
Everything is about a problem or challenge– why does Genesis 3 end with more than one god?
Predestination is a humanities problem
Peter Elbow– write a paper in 3 sections, set out like a scientific experiment
Hypothesis, say what you know and how experiment is set up
Research, do the experiment, write up what you did and what happened, sequence of reactions
analyze what happened in section 2, ask whether it satisfied hypothesis
In Humanities, process becomes very important: they can’t google and print for this
Could someone replicate the research? How would someone go further?
Three-section paper is written over whole semester; google-proof
This is a paper that narrates what you did looking at the topic
How do you get to the thesis, how do you make the argument for it (opponents’ critique, address that)
Missing piece might come up in social classroom– blogging, people bringing different pieces of knowledge, the debate
The final product of a humanities paper is designed to be out there for other people with the same questions
Undermine the rigid idea that the audience is the professor
Publication is much more available today
FERPA is a concern; does it apply if there’s no grade put on it?
Research: to learn about something, to develop sense of argument
Developing an argument about something you don’t care about is hard
Get people to have a real question/problem
Ask undergrads: what research was satisfying, what would you have liked to do?
Online portfolio of student work
File away papers for portfolio– doesn’t have to happen now, you can publish a blog
Would like to see more published work, even as informal as a blog
Realize that students are on the same level as the work they’re referencing
Changing the mindset: students writing for professor, not for other minds
Idea that education is formulaic (knowledge > grade > degree > job)
How do you get them to think and care?
Opening up more publishing opportunities would be gratifying
Have students post an excerpt of a paper in an appropriate forum
Community-based research– see how your archive of food bank attendees can result in a grant for the food bank
Make you feel like you make a difference
Energy/excitement can be harnessed for making a difference
Lots of public discussion about education in Wisconsin
No one says that the point of education is to learn something, develop critical thinking skills, in public discourse it’s something else
Carthage: president says that students are customers, selling the parents on this education
Economic game
Keep the constant tension about the point of the liberal arts education may have nothing to do with the economy– developing skills, abilities, interests, etc.
Counter-cultural aspect of LAC
Process writing is the first draft
“Just start writing.” — you’ll work it out through the writing
The conclusion of the first draft is the hypothesis
It’s not about a result (not “prove something”) but a defensible argument
Can’t get students invested in putting in time from the beginning of the semester; they see this as bits and pieces
When students write papers, it’s important to have a revision process (even if just on the syllabus)
Non-graded draft– they don’t take it seriously
First assignment: 4-page paper, have to keep rewriting it until you get an A, or you get an F
First grading is really harsh
“As a student, there’s nothing more frustrating than an A-.”
You haven’t finished a revision until you’ve learned something new about your topic
Intermediate courses: teach the process of the discipline– learning how to tackle problems in the future
frustrated with seniors’ lack of research skills; instituted new junior course called “research methods”
Can begin seninior thesis or do something else, but take them step-by-step through the research process
Google search can help undergrads doing research: people blogging about topics in their field (“here’s some thoughts about this thing I just encountered”)
Students volunteered for a blogging assignment to follow a couple blogs throughout the semester
Critical summary of issues raised in the blog, find a connection to something in the class
Not everyone was able to complete the assignment as desired (there’s some assignment tweaking), but some students really got it, became engaged in the discourse
Existing archives are important and valuable, but thinking about things that are out there on the web to help undergrads think critically about topics
Less intimidating than journals
Science project: take something from Oprah, Psychology Today, newspaper, etc., “study shows X”– trace it back, find the study, look at what the study said, and see if the newspaper is accurate
Suspicion about what they find on the web
Tension about grading, how do you build rubrics for these assignments?
Ambition as part of the grade (20% for how broadly conceived, research depth, etc.)
Leap of faith
“If you’re not uncomfortable, I’m not teaching.”
Students get angry with you because they haven’t seen it before (reassure students that it’s normal to be confused)
Curse of the honors student– they want the grade
Students from small high schools, a C is a shock
Scaffolding for different kinds of research tasks
It’s okay to not know what you’re doing
Intro/middle level– just looking for things that help make their argument, not engaging with broader dialog
Throwing students into JSTOR can be intimidating; using blogs can lay some groundwork for contradictory arguments
Decided to make a website related to Moby Dick
One student mapped route on an 1850 map
Syllabi, game design– “leveling up”, point scale for grades
Leveling up makes sense to students
Anti-climactic to go to the next grade, but if you can “level up” at any point in the year, that’s exciting
“Reality is Broken” – positive psychology underneath that
Praising effort over intelligence (effort you have control over)
Developing ability to do undergrad research process, then applying it to a new problem, then something that’s publishable research (level-wise growth)
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