2004 - 2007 Phase IV PKAL Leadership Initiative (LI) Final Report

Research-Rich Seminars

PKAL LI Seminars: Research-Rich

Key Questions:

  • What are key relationships and connections—between faculty, faculty and students, faculty and administrators; course sequences and spaces for learning; institutional budgets and priorities—that need to be in place to ensure a research-rich undergraduate STEM learning environment, and who are responsible for making these happen?
  • What are the documented successes, promising practices and effective strategies in developing campus research-rich environments?
  • What is leadership? What is followership? And, how as leaders can we be both?
  • What is the value of a research-rich learning environment from the perspective of the: Students? Science community? Institution?
  • What are some strategies to building a research-rich learning environment?
  • What spaces inhibit and what spaces foster interdisciplinary learning?
  • What are the institutional and departmental characteristics that nurture undergraduate research? What resources, facilities, and financial support are required to develop or maintain the infrastructure for research?
  • Can institutions with limited resources hope to engage their faculty in significant research? Are there limitations on research that is conducted at undergraduate institutions?
  • What are the national/regional sources of funding for research and instrumentation acquisition? When does off-campus research benefit institutional development?
  • Does research, as it is practiced at undergraduate institutions, compete with or enhance the teaching mission? What are the curricular designs that enhance opportunities for faculty-student research?
  • Does the present and projected future job market influence the urgency for implementation of undergraduate research?
  • How do new opportunities and the changing context- scientific advances that dissolve disciplinary boundaries, the increasing visibility of the global science communities- influence the planning and assessing of the research-rich learning environment?


  • Barriers to overcome to achieve a robust research-rich undergraduate STEM learning environment.
    • Lack of congruence (significant disparity) between expectations for new STEM faculty appointments in regard to ‘research-rich’ and research productivity with current culture within our STEM departments.
    • Lack of faculty experience and success with seeking external grants, leading to a sense of feeling threatened by the prospect of responsibility for a research-rich learning environment.
    • Lack of adequate infrastructure (instrumentation, spaces, budgets) to support a research-rich learning environment.
    • No policies for securing, allocating or reallocating funds to build a research-rich learning environment.
    • Cadre of research-inactive faculty whose views shape our culture; faculty confusion about relative import of research/teaching and learning.
    • Increasing pressure on faculty to make STEM courses for all students more engaging.
  • Needs (& opportunities) for overcoming barriers to achieving a robust research-rich undergraduate STEM learning environment.
    • Need to engage faculty with national conversations about undergraduate research—what it is, how and why it works.
    • Need to discover what is actually happening in pockets around the campus in facilitating undergraduate involvement in research.
    • Need to have general institution-wide discussions about contemporary research on how people learn and link those to specific discussions about the ‘why’ of a research-rich learning environment.
    • Need for institution-wide discussions about what research-rich means for our community, within and beyond the sciences; need to gain broader buy-in.
    • Need to maintain and advance nascent innovative programs beginning to achieve demonstrable success at the edges and reshaping our core, in a time of shrinking resources.
    • Need for a coherent “bottom-to-top” research-rich learning environment in all STEM departments that emphasizes discovery-based learning from day one.
    • Need to address students’ fear of ‘doing science.’
    • Need for strategies to “do it all”—to engage all students in discovery-based STEM learning, no matter their background while at the same time serving the students in the middle and the honors students most creatively.

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