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Episode Notes | Transcript | AskTheGuest

 Hi Fives (5 Highlights)   Click for 3-Minute Listen

Jennifer Coleman is a Professor of Psychology at the Western New Mexico University.

When Prof. Coleman was in college, she really liked the life that the parents of a close friend were leading. They were University Professors. And she wanted to emulate them.

They advised her to find a Professor whose class she really liked, and ask to do research in their lab. That UG Research started her off into the decades-long journey into academia and research.

Hi-Fives from the Podcast are:

  1. UG Research Role at WNMU
  2. CUR’s Role
  3. Resources for Students
  4. Impact on of UGR on Students
  5. Advice for High Schoolers

Episode Notes

Episode Title: Prof. Jennifer Coleman of WNMU: Fostering UG Research In Campus Labs and Online.

When Prof. Coleman was in college, she got to know a close friend’s parents, who were University Professors. She really liked the life they were leading.  

She wanted to emulate them. They advised her to find a “rock star” Professor whose class she really liked, and ask to do research in their lab.

She did.

That UG Research started her off into a decades-long journey into academia and research.

Prof. Coleman joins us on our podcast to talk about UG Research at Western New Mexico University, CUR’s Role, Enabling Research Online, Impact of Research, Success Stories, and Advice for High Schoolers.

In particular, we discuss the following with her:

  • Prof. Jennifer Coleman’s Background
  • UG Research at WNMU
  • Doing Research Online
  • Student Success Stories
  • Advice for High Schoolers

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • Introducing Prof. Jennifer Coleman, WNMU [0:45]
  • Hi Fives - Podcast Highlights [2:07]
  • Professional Background [4:52]
  • UG Research in College [6:23]
  • UG Research For All [10:08]
  • Prof. Coleman’s UG Research Role [14:03]
  • CUR’s Role [18:12]
  • Resources for Students [21:22]
  • Matching Funds [25:52]
  • Why Virtual Research [28:05]
  • Impact of UGR [37:12]
  • Student Participation [39:50]
  • Success Stories [42:48]
  • Advice for High Schoolers [48:03]

Our Guest: Prof. Jennifer Coleman is a Professor of Psychology at Western New Mexico University. Prof. Coleman received the Bachelor’s Degrees in Psychology from SUNY Geneseo. She received her Master’s degree in College Teaching, and PhD in Cognitive Psychology and Psycholinguistics from the University of New Hampshire.

Memorable Quote: “...if you find the school that's right for you, then that school is awesome! That school is fantastic. So whether or not it's big, or small, whether or not it's you know, online or in person, when you find what's right for you, create the opportunities that you want to have. And you, I think, they will be there for you.” Prof. Jennifer Coleman.

Episode Transcript: Please visit Episode’s Transcript.

Similar Episodes: UG Research

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Episode Transcript

Transcript of the episode’s audio.

<Start Snippet> Jennifer C  0:14  

If we take our course offerings, and we make those really progressive with a combination of online, virtual hybrid, all these great things plus face to face on campus, but we don't do the same things with all our high impact practices. So student research is still something that's physically on campus in people's laboratories. Right? We have we haven't, we're kind of at a point of being disjointed.

Venkat  0:45  [Introducing Prof. Jennifer Coleman, WNM University]

That is Dr. Jennifer Coleman, Professor of Psychology at the Western New Mexico University.

Hello, I am your host, Venkat Raman.

When Prof. Coleman was in college, she really liked the life that the parents of a close friend were leading.

They were University Professors.

And she wanted to emulate them.

They advised her to find a Professor whose class she really liked, and ask to do research in their lab.

She did.

That UG Research started her off into the decades-long journey into academia and research.

Venkat Raman  1:33

Prof. Coleman joins us on our podcast to talk about UG Research at WNM University, CUR’s Role, Enabling Research Online, Impact of Research, Success Stories, and Advice for High Schoolers.

Before we jump into the podcast, here are the Hi-Fives,  Five Highlights from the podcast:

Jennifer C  2:07  [Highlights - Hi Fives]

[UG Research Role at WNMU]

Guess it's 10 years ago, now I started a it's almost like a GoFundMe and it's funded by students. It's a research fund for students on campus. And it was the first of its kind at my university. It's the only of its kind at the university. It's actually there are other models out there at other universities. But it's not all that common either.

[CUR’s Role]

So our relationship with CUR is relatively new, it's about four years old. And so we use it in a variety of different ways. We have a few faculty on campus who will access career and find research placement opportunities for students and then promote those across campus letting students know those those opportunities are available.

[Resources for Students]

Start the year, we set out we outline the things we're going to do that year. One of those categories is scholarship, one of those categories is service. So because we're a teaching institution, and our primary focus is students, when you look at many of our objectives related to scholarship, they engage students in it. So in terms of infrastructure, the very theme that runs through the design of our institution is that we reach out and we serve students.

 

[Impact on of UGR on Students]

It's another thing to then take that to that other level of not only do I know how to ask a question, and I know how to find out what's already known about this question, but I also know how to put things in place to come up with answers. So I can make a contribution.

[Advice for High Schoolers]

The advice that was given to me was, well, whose class do you enjoy? What class? Do you like going to what Professor is enthusiastic and has a way of being in the room that just appeals to you? That could be the person to go up to and say, Hey, I need some mentoring. I, I'm not sure what I want or where I'm going. Could I talk to you about that?

Venkat Raman  4:15

These were the Hi5s, brought to you by “College Matters. Alma Matters.”

Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

Venkat Raman  4:26

Now, I'm sure you want to hear the entire podcast with Professor Coleman.

So without further ado, here is Professor Jennifer Coleman!

-----------------

Venkat Raman  4:36  

If you're ready, we can jump right in.

Jennifer C  4:38  

Absolutely. Thank you for having me.

Venkat Raman  4:41  

Absolutely. Sure.

Cool, so maybe the best place to start is give us a little bit about your background. And then we can make our way through the research part.

Jennifer C  4:52  [Professional Background]

Sure. I am a first generation college student but I am not first in family. So I'm the youngest of five children in my family and I was fortunate to have visited the colleges of my older siblings and I have a sister closest in age to me. And I don't know if you want this much depth of background, but it's relevant to my journey to research. US SR closest in age who really was my guide when it came to college.

But to be honest, when I got to school, I was still somewhat clueless. me it took me three years to declare my major to really find what where I was meant to be. I did graduate from the State University of New York at Geneseo with my bachelor's in psychology.

I had some real key experiences when I was at Genesee are related to research and those led me to graduate school at the University of New Hampshire. My background in research is in sensation and perception. I studied human vision for a couple of years. I did research in cognitive psychology, and I'm really what I would view now as a generalist practitioner with a varied range of interests across the curriculum.

Venkat Raman  6:12  

You mentioned doing research, undergraduate research during your undergraduate years. What or How did that happen?

Jennifer C  6:23  [UG Research in College]

Oh, that's one of my favorite stories, honestly. Because it was so life altering for me. When I was at Geneseo, which it's important to know the context in which you go to school really does matter. So at Geneseo, it's a liberal arts school. The emphasis there is on teaching, you know, people are hired to work there to be great teachers.

And so when I was there, I I found people I wanted to emulate I, I discovered what interested me by seeing people around me who I thought I liked their life. And that's what I want to want to do.

I happen to have somebody really close to me in college, whose parents were both university professors, I saw that and I really had a strong response of I want that life, I thought it was super cool that his father would sit in a sunroom patio that they had, and listen to classical music and grade papers on the weekends. I hate to sound like it was so cookie cutter, you know, the stereotypical image of a university professor, but that really was, was what I saw him doing. And they went to art galleries, and they went to concerts and listened to music. And it was a slightly different lifestyle from my family growing up, and it looked really neat to me.

And so I, I was lucky to ask, you know, have their mentorship in my life to say, you know, what do I need? If I want to make X happen? What do I need to do to get to that point in the alphabet? And so they told me, you know, find a professor that you like, who in the classroom you just think is a rock star and talk to that person and see what they're doing outside of the classroom. And I did that and John, John Sparrow is his name. He was a faculty member at that time at SUNY Geneseo. He was teaching a class that I just thought his teaching style was fantastic.

And I went up to him after class one day and said, I'm interested in getting involved in this discipline, going to graduate school. Are you doing any research outside of the classroom? And he welcomed me into his laboratory. And there were eventually three of us working in his lab. And he also happened to have been an alum of the University of New Hampshire.

So when I was doing my graduate school application process, I was looking at a bunch of schools throughout different areas of the country. And he one day just happened to say, you know, have you thought about the University of New Hampshire? And I hadn't, they weren't on my radar for a variety of reasons. But that program really was super well suited for my interests. He knew it had an emphasis on college teaching that they didn't just want to produce great researchers in the field of psychology, but they also wanted to produce people who would go out and be wonderful faculty members also.

And so I applied UNH, I went to UNH, it was a wonderful fit. Yeah, I as a message to students and parents out there. You know, I think it's really important to realize that every relationship, every exposure we have to something new is a chance to realize something new about ourselves. So those were my moments of somebody's parents and a faculty member being in my life at the right time to facilitate my journey beginning

Venkat Raman  9:50  

That's an amazing story.

Venkat Raman  9:56  

Now, obviously, this was super important and it worked for you. Now, how do you see this translating to other students, all the undergraduate students of today?

Jennifer C  10:08  [UG Research For All]

Oh, you know, maybe the undergraduate students of today are even in a better position than I was, in that their access to the world and different ways of being. And different versions of adult life and work are, they're just so available to them. And for me, I had to look at the people who were proximate. Right, I didn't have access to the internet. It existed, but I just didn't have access. No one did in that area, except probably government officials. So I, again, it's just that issue of pay attention to what's around you. I mean, allow yourself to notice what you like, and you don't have to fit into a mold. That's the beauty of the uniqueness of human humanity is we get to be ourselves and figure out what it is that brings us joy and makes us feel fulfilled, and high school students now get to experience college. Earlier, to some extent, we do have dual enrollment happening. And we do have some early college courses, and we have advanced placement. But even if those things are not happening, I really want to make sure that I'm sensitive not only to the traditional, what we call the quote unquote traditional student that right 16 to 18 year old who's looking at college and starting at 18 or so. But also the person who took time off, who's still trying to figure out, if I go back to college, what would that look like? What would I go for? I often will advise students who are very undecided, I don't know what I want to do, how do I figure that out? And one of the exercises I have them do, there are two of them. One is figure out what you don't like sometimes you have much more awareness of what you don't like. And you could do what I call a declaration by elimination, where instead of declaring your major, you actually eliminate the things you don't want. And enough you start to realize, what you do want to do is more obvious. The other one is to sit back and actually just think about what you covet. You know what, whose life do you envy? And what does that look like to get that life for me? The observation was not about money, affluence, Power Authority, it was not about those things. For me, it was about. I mean, some of it was about the arts, enjoyment of the arts and having that be part of somebody's lifestyle and identity. And part of it was security stability. So, again, for me, my influence was things that were proximate for people today, with the internet and social media and the world of connectivity that we have. I can imagine things can be overwhelming at times, how do you choose when you're aware of how many items are on the buffet? Maybe a small buffet is better than a big buffet, but go out and try some things on, you know, see how that feels and pursue it further. And I guess another thing would be put yourself out there. Sure. If you said, yeah, if you sit at home on social media, I don't know that you're actually realizing your own potential, but you surely are contributing to that of others. So now, turn that around, and engage yourself in what interests you and have others support you.

Venkat Raman  13:45  

Cool, so let's talk about the role you're playing today. In terms of coordinating and making undergraduate research possible. Tell us a little bit about that.

Jennifer C  14:03  [Prof. Coleman’s UG Research Role]

So I work now I'm a professor at Western New Mexico University, which is a small regional school in the southwestern corner of the state of New Mexico. And I've been there almost 20 years. Similar to Geneseo the emphasis at at schools have, and this is something for everybody to consider different schools have different areas of emphasis, very large schools versus smaller schools. And the emphasis at my university really is the teaching experience of working with students directly. So just like every faculty member on my campus, I have I carry that role with everybody else. We all are responsible for being present for our students, having our students and their learning being our number one priority.

Over You know, perhaps at a research institution where faculty are teaching less, their emphasis is more on advanced Getting the scholarship in the field, which is wonderful, because then we get to take that scholarship and share it with more students. Sure.

So I also, I guess it's 10 years ago now I started a it's almost like a GoFundMe, and it's funded by students. It's a research fund for students on campus. And it was the first of its kind at my university. It's the only of its kind at the university. It's actually there are other models out there and other universities, but it's not all that common. I've taken this to conferences and presented and shared it with other faculty and students. And I have to get a really wonderful response of, we didn't know we could do this, this is so great, right? Basically, what I did was, I was mentoring students in classes, doing research as course based undergraduate research. And when I what I noticed with those students was, we were fundraising to go to conferences outside of class, more than we were actually spending time on the scholarship in class. So we have this inverted relationship with our research, where 80% of our time is spent fundraising 20% of our time is actually doing the work. And that bothered me. The students were wonderful, and everybody was enthusiastic about the process, but it didn't seem like the best use of use of our time, right. And so I went to the provost at the time and said, Can I put together a proposal to create a student fee. So the students would all pitch in a few dollars here and there, based on their credit, our enrollment, and that money would become a savings account for the student body. And students could apply for loans basically, or they were grants, they don't have to pay them back. So I started that 10 years ago, it is still in existence, it's actually I think, 16 fold the funding it was when I started it. Well, so yes, yeah, actually, I think it's mathematically much more than that. But I should have done the math before we got on this podcast. It's still started out, I think at eight cents an hour or seven cents an hour per credit hour. So each student was only paying in, you know, under $1. But in the course of a year, it generated, you know, $16,000 or something, and now it generates anywhere from 60 to $80,000 a year. And it depends, of course, it varies with enrollment. So it's not a stable budget line, but it's a constant recurring budget line. So it is stable, but it's consistent. So or it's consistent, but not stable, whichever way you want to apply those concepts. So that was kind of my effort I, in terms of my role at the university. I was the founder of that. And I oversaw that for seven years. It's now under the incredibly capable leadership of other people. And now I'm just a champion like all the other faculty members on campus, we share that role.

Venkat Raman  18:04  

How are you guys leveraging CUR?

Jennifer C  18:12  [CUR’s Role]

That's a wonderful question. Yeah. So CUR, CUR has a really neat mission to support us really across the campus. So they support the administrators, somebody who might be running an Office of Undergraduate Research. They're available for faculty who want to be enriched in their efforts, and they're available for students. So our relationship with Korea is relatively new, it's about four years old. And so we use it in a variety of different ways. We have a few faculty on campus who will access current and find research placement opportunities for students, and then promote those across campus letting students know those those opportunities are available. So that's, that's a very direct way that we can use her to directly serve students. I have used her a lot for my own professional development. And I think part of the way in which we came together is related to this. I went to CUR in the summer of 2018, looking for people who were talking about research with undergraduates at a distance, you know, the remote student, the online student, and there really, at that time was no dialogue happening about that. And it was a woman who at the time was with her. She was the director of membership there, Robin Howard. She connected me with Nancy Hensel about collaborating on a book project. And last spring, Nancy Hansel Bill Campbell and I, the three of us co edited a volume that was published with stylus, in collaboration with CUR and with AAC&U and it's specifically a book about doing undergraduate research with online virtual and hybrid students. Yeah, so CUR has had a really important role for me. And I, you know, bring opportunities to students as much as possible, as do other faculty using careers resources. There's another thing. CUR has a listserv and a place a community where you can go and you could post a question. And how do people at your institution handle summer research regard regarding this particular issue and instance, instantly, you know, within moments you'll get start getting responses. And over the course of a couple of weeks, you get, you know, this dialogue going among colleagues. So it's CUR has facilitated all of us, across the country and beyond, because it's an international organization coming together to do the best by our students, which is just I mean, that's invaluable.

Venkat Raman  21:00  

And I wanted to see what infrastructure or resources your students get your students, meaning the students at the university, get to do research. I mean, what what kind of framework or what kind of help are you providing in addition to the funds?

Jennifer C  21:22  [Resources for Students]

Oh, yes, okay, great. And I'll bring up the funds again, because they help even with some infrastructure or some developmental support towards chance. So we're small, and I know that you have great knowledge in this area, small schools often will not have a dedicated Office of Undergraduate Research, or possibly even a person with a title director or coordinator of undergraduate research, we have had an evolving. So a couple years ago, we did have somebody in the position of Director of Undergraduate Research. And when that individual moved away from the university for other opportunities, that position was not retained. So we have an ebb and flow of that. So if you go to a big university, I can think of one that's near me, there are like six offices of undergraduate research across campus. Other schools will have one very centralized office, it might be undergraduate research in high impact practices, or undergraduate research and sponsored programs. It's interesting at my institution, right now, I might be able to say we don't have a dedicated office. But the interesting thing about a small school is the, we don't necessarily need a dedicated office when it's integrated into the role of every faculty member on campus. So an interesting thing for students and parents to be aware of, is that just like any other job in the world, faculty members have expectations that are put on them every year. And typically, we design those expectations ourselves. So at my university, we do what's called a management by objectives. And every year at the start of the year, we set out we outline the things we're going to do that year. One of those categories is scholarship, one of those categories is service. So because we're a teaching institution, and our primary focus is students, when you look at many of our objectives related to scholarship, they engage students in it. So in terms of infrastructure, the very theme that runs through the design of our institution is that we reach out and we serve students. So we have all faculty across campus as champions for student experiences in and outside of the classroom. Now, in terms of students and infrastructures that a student could access, one of the things we did when I when we created student research, and it's that fund that I created is called Student Research and Professional Development funds. And it's they're always faculty who serve as advisors for that committee, but the committee is actually composed of students and every single funding decision that is made is made by students because after all, it's their money, right? It's their savings account. So nobody else should make decisions with it. Yeah, that fund is available for students to get to buy equipment. So if if a student's working with a faculty member and they realize they need to buy some reagents to do a chemistry experiment, or they need to buy some clay because they're developing something in a pottery studio SRPD funds can provide that funding. So research equipment is their training if a student wants to go to a workshop where they experience some professional development or when you take an online class related to the appropriate treatment of human participants in research. SRPD funds is there for them for that and then On the other side is the issue of traveling to conferences to present not only to attend, but to present at conferences, or students can get funding to do that.

So the infrastructure is if I can kind of come back and summarize it, it's a thread that goes through the faculty emphasis and values and efforts that we put forward. It's also built into the student government structure, because Student Government is the entity that approved that fund, the students are the ones who continue to fill the bank account. And students are the ones allocating those funds to other students. So it's a collaboration on our campus of, of all those parties with the administration supporting it along the way, by allowing us to, to have this focus in our work that we do.

Venkat Raman  25:52  [Matching Funds]

One, you know, random, unsolicited suggestion I can give you as, you know, you might think of matching funds as well. So that that might be something that might be interesting to increase the kitty and maybe do more things. But, but

Jennifer C  26:10  

Definitely, I just I hope you keep that in the recording, because that's something I proposed years ago was matching funds. And that kind of is the model, just to give a shout out to the administration. That is the model. When the administration comes in and put somebody in place to be a director of undergraduate research, they basically are doing fun matching. And right now, the faculty who are coordinating the SRPD funds, they get support from the administration to do that. So the administration is definitely they're definitely showing support. And I'll be honest, you know, over the last 10 years, every single year, our student fees are reevaluated every year, the president works with the student government, to, you know, help them get insight in how to prioritize things where to maybe reduce fees and allow students to save money or where to take an asset and shift it to a new area, because it would serve students better in that way. And our university leadership has from student and administration has not only protected SRPD funds, but allowed those funds to grow over the last 10 years. So they are definitely showing their backing. But you're right, we can always use, you can always use more, you can always throw more money at the problem.

Venkat Raman  27:29  

Unfortunately, unfortunately, true.

Venkat Raman  27:35  

So let's move on. And I kind of wanted to talk to you about campus research and doing research online. This is something that you've been very passionate about. So share with us what you see are the benefits of doing stuff virtually or online and how that either adds to the campus based research or separately, just a good individual thing.

Jennifer C  28:05  [Why Virtual Research]

Oh, sure. Thank you for asking about that. And you are correct that it's really just become an incredible passion of mine to argue for equity for all students and opportunities for all students. And this, this is pre pandemic for me. And I might be one of the only people during the pandemic who was like having this reaction of Oh, finally other people will understand the possibilities that Online offers us.

So I've been doing undergraduate research with students since the mid 90s. And I myself was an undergraduate researcher before that. And my university has gone we went partially online about 15 years ago, 16 years ago. We were online a tiny bit before that in a very limited area. And then we decided to kind of bring it across the curriculum in 2006 or so. We're unique because we're in a we're a small school in a remote area of the country. And it's rural. So we have students who are traveling to campus.

And if you remember back in 2007, when the economy crashed, and gas prices and you know, people's personal wealth was impacted, so greatly offering online classes offered economics say economical savings for our students. And when you have non traditional students also, our university has a vast number of non traditional students that were passionate about serving. It's really important to respect that students don't always have school as their job. They actually have another job too. And school is something that has to fit in and You know, we have this emphasis in our country that we want to educate as many people as possible, right? Complete College, America is a national initiative.

But then we also are struggling a little bit to shift college such that it could work for all adults. When we offer classes Monday through Friday, during business hours, we don't exactly accommodate most Americans. So my university has definitely been a champion and trying to accommodate as many learners as possible. So we're at a point where a significant portion of our enrollment is taking online classes, even the students in the dorms, sometimes like to take at least one online class so that their schedule also has that flexibility added in.

And so if we, if we take our course offerings, and we make those really progressive with a combination of online, virtual hybrid, all these great things plus face to face on campus, but we don't do the same things with all our high impact practices. So student research is still something that's physically on campus in people's laboratories, right? We have, we haven't, we're kind of at a point of being disjointed. So I've been ringing the bell saying, hey, if we are offering if 50% of our enrollment is online, and 50% of our co curricular opportunities also need to be online.

Now, when you go to a career conference, the truth of the community of undergraduate research is that most people involved in undergraduate research are physically on campus. And that's what they're used to doing. And that was true for me to four years ago, I became a remote faculty member, which was quite, you know, earth, earth shaking for me, in that it was a change in my career, you know, 26 years in. So that made me realize, I had an interesting kind of split experience. When I became a remote professor, I had, I had been working in administration for many years, I in order to be moved to a distant location from I'm only three hours away, but that still feels really far. I had to kind of let go of some of my administrative roles moved back to being full time faculty had always stayed faculty. But I moved back to teaching more courses. What I noticed from my colleagues was, a lot of people just stopped communicating as if I didn't exist anymore. And whereas in the past, when I was on campus, they would pick up a phone and call me and connect with me, somehow dialing those extra three digits was cognitive overload or something, and they stopped calling.

So I realized, my experience was giving me a really unique insight into the experience of remote students. Also, at times, they feel very connected to the university in some ways, but in other ways, not so much. And I paid attention, you know, we learn really well from our own experiences. So I paid attention to what does this feel like for me? And what do I need to do to make it better for me? And what would I love other people to do too, and so I went to CUR to see who's talking about doing research with undergraduate students at a distance, and I realized almost nobody because that's not who's showing up at CUR and, and then the pandemic hit. And everybody wanted to talk about doing undergraduate research with students at a distance, everybody, everybody wanted to talk about it. Yeah.

Unfortunately, our book wasn't ready when the pandemic hit our book came two years into the year and a half into the pandemic. So it wasn't perfectly timed to benefit everyone who was having questions about that. But, you know, I just I know, one of the things you and I are going to talk about today are some of the success stories. And so if I can introduce one of those here now, sure.

I teach online and I, when I'm in my classes, and I noticed students with inquiring minds based on what they're posting, I sometimes will poke them, you know, I send them a little email saying, you're writing in such a way and you're asking questions in such a way have you ever thought about undergraduate research seems to be consistent with the nature of the way you think, have you ever thought about that? So I did this last year, I do it to a lot of students across classes and I, I do integrate undergraduate research into all of my classes.

So I'm definitely pushing everybody a little to just at least think about it as an opportunity for themselves. But I poked a few students last year very directly, and I nudged them and said, Hey, this is this is something you might really want to think about. It seems to resonate with you.

And I spent the summer I invited two students to become research assistants of mine this past summer. They both have To be named Katie. So I call them the Katie's and one is based in Maryland, one is based in Arizona. So they're both distant from our campus. And of the shift that being involved in undergraduate research has created for them in terms of their sense of belongingness, in terms of their sense of connection to the university, their connection to me to a professor, their sense of bringing their, their identity as a member of their discipline, not just their identity as a university student, but their identity as I belong in this domain. I am part of this society of scholarship and research and psychology. And we're actually looking at online students and distance students and their sense of belonging at university. So they're getting to examine their own issues at some level. Sure.

Now, let me I do want to just add, yeah, working with remote students is something that some disciplines have done for forever. I mean, if we think about the issue of the field research in natural sciences, so I've just arguing that for some of our, there are universities throughout the country that have more of an online identity. And I'm just hoping to see more of our high impact practices, more of our on campus practices, translating into opportunities for our online initiatives that we have. So just bringing the good stuff with us when we you know, if we pick up and we move camp, let's take our stuff with us, and offer these great things to everybody.

Venkat Raman  36:51  

What what do you think the students who are doing research are getting out of it? What I mean by that is, you know, there's obviously in class, whether it was in class or remote instruction, but the whole knowledge creation aspect, what is it bringing to the students?

Jennifer C  37:12  [Impact of UGR]

You said it very well. It is that knowledge creation, it is that chance to exercise, inquisitive, you know, inquiry being an inquire of the field. So asking questions, and it's one thing to ask questions. It's one thing to go to the literature to answer your questions, which is obviously something we want educated people to do. It's another thing to then take that to that other level of, not only do I know how to ask a question, and I know how to find out what's already known about this question, but I also know how to put things in place to come up with answers. So I can make a contribution. And I want to bring this to, you know, across the, across the whole campus, across all disciplines fully across the curriculum. You know, there could be a student in literature, who asks the question of a particular thing, you know, an interpretation and goes the literature to see what other scholars have said and realizes, you know, people are not talking about this enough, I will be the person who talks about this. I, you know, I get goosebumps just thinking about that moment of realization from a student that they're not a student. I mean, think about that, are you a student, still, if you're the one contributing to knowledge formation, you're, you're, you're not, you're not really the student anymore. You're now the scholar, you're now the teacher you're creating, what there is to be known. It's super powerful. And I do think, you know, for students who don't themselves want to become the researcher being exposed to it is still a chance to have a deeper appreciation of, oh, this is how this stuff happens. Now, I understand you know, now when the Center for Disease Control rolls out research findings, that makes more sense to me, I don't want to be the person doing it, perhaps, but at least I have an appreciation for that process. And, you know, criticism of it as well, I might understand its limitations a little bit more at times, and that allows me to be more critical thinker, a better consumer and a better contributor to understanding

Venkat Raman  39:41  

What percentage of the students are doing research, undergraduate research you think?

Jennifer C  39:50  [Student Participation]

I wish I could answer that with a good number. That is something we we should step up and monitor a little better I know in some fields, it's 100%. So I know in natural sciences, they have capstone courses. That's a, that's 100%. Over there. Even in other disciplines, there's a senior project required in areas, literature and art. And there, if we remind ourselves that research encompasses research, scholarship and creative activities, so it's important creative works, it's important to appreciate across the curriculum, that different words applied differently. My students are getting 100% Exposure to undergraduate research, because again, I'm integrating it into classes, course based undergraduate research experiences I model. I think our percentage is probably very, very high. Because I know it, it meets that philosophical approach. We also have small class sizes, so we can do those experiences. In our, in our School of Education, there's a real emphasis on what we call action research. So noticing an issue that's happening live in the classroom, and strategically insert, inserting a an intervention, and then monitoring systematically whether or not that intervention matters. So even in the realm of field work, like in education, we have an orientation driving students toward being researched. So you know, if I take the definition of what qualifies as undergraduate research, we could look as a continuum, where on a more laxed, liberal interpretation of the concept, our percentage would be very high. If we're looking at students producing publications and co authoring things with faculty and presenting at conferences. I think we're doing really, really well, of course, our numbers lower there as it is across all campuses.

Venkat Raman  42:03  

Yeah, yeah. I mean, I think I think the most important thing is that they do research whether, you know, it goes to the next step of publishing or presenting it's a different matter. But yeah, it sounds like you've integrated it into a lot of courses. So I think the numbers are going to be high. Now, and it's across disciplines, which is another wonderful thing.

Venkat Raman  42:29  

You know, I thought maybe, if you had any anecdote, or vignette or story about one or two students or the research they did, you know, over the years that you've been, you know, pursuing this or helping students, that'd be great for our listeners to hear.

Jennifer C  42:48  [Success Stories]

Sure, I'll share a couple. When we think about success coming out of undergraduate research, I think we often think of standard definitions of success. And, you know, I'll give a few of those for the listeners. So those are clear. I mean, one would be somebody like me who as an undergraduate because of exposure to undergraduate research, that opened the door to a Ph. D program, which led me to give back in the ways that I'm getting back and I have a bunch of those examples.

You know, a student as Susan lots in New Jersey, who is now a faculty member, student, Ashley Newell, who was an undergraduate at Western New Mexico University, who is now a doctor she she was an undergraduate researcher with me she was part of a group of students who went to a conference and one of best empirical research award for work that they did not think they didn't think it was very good because one thing that happens in research experiences, you often step in a bunch of potholes and you twist your ankle and, and they had just the hardest time with their project and then they went to a conference presented it and won an award and that was just such a wonderful way to wrap up their work but she opened doors to things like medical school.

I have a colleague now David sweat camera, who was an undergraduate researcher just finished his doctoral degree and is a university instructor. Some of students like colleague I have Andrew Joy ended up being an adjunct for our university for a while stayed on for graduate studies and is now working in corporate America. So the success stories in terms of you know, research opening doors, sometimes it leads to doors in academia, sometimes it leads to professional work like medicine and sometimes other avenues. So should definitely a traditional resume builder, but I want to also tell tell you some maybe unexpected, smaller, but to me, sometimes even more significant success story.

So one example I always love to give is its students who were going to a conference to present research and some of the students in the class we're going to be presenting and other students in the class, we're not. And I gave those students the option of still going, you know, if you've not presenting, but you still want to go feel free to come along. I had one student in particular who, when it was time to decide who was going to submit to the conference, she was just adamant, I don't feel ready. I'm intimidated. I'm too new to this, I just don't feel ready.

So she was one of the students who came along just as an observer. And she approached me, maybe a day or so into the conference came up to me no tugging on my arm, Dr. Coleman, Dr. Coleman, I can do this, I can do this. I just, I don't know why I was so hesitant to do this. I know. So in that moment, she had that ability to see herself as capable and competent. And to me, that's, you know, was there a kind of a concrete she got into graduate school, know where she landed that job? No, but it shifted her personal shift is arguably more important.

And then the other success story, I would tell her, the Katie's that I'm working with the summer, yeah. And that I worked with the summer and that I'm still working with now. You know, the Katie's went from feeling kind of invisible, and unseen, to feeling completely engaged, they're both now presenting at a national conference that's being hosted in Tucson, Arizona, in November, coming in from their respective locations, we get to spend a couple days in person together, they they just feel a certain level of fulfillment, from the opportunity to be engaged and to have a project. And I mean, I can't say enough good things about the students with whom I've had the pleasure of working there all success stories, even the students who try it on and drop it, because it doesn't work for them, I still see that as a success. Because they learned something more about themselves, they put themselves out there, they tried something on, you know, you can't buy a new pair of shoes unless you pick a pair out and see whether or not they fit. So for the students and parents out there, you know, that I don't even like to say the big F word failure is sometimes a success. So when things don't work, it's not always a bad thing.

Venkat Raman  47:45  

As we start winding down here, Jennifer, what kind of advice would you give high school students who are looking at college? How should they prepare themselves to do research on campus?

Jennifer C  48:03  [Advice for High Schoolers]

Oh, such a good question. Part of me wants to say don't do anything, you're already ready. So don't feel like you're not ready. Because if you feel like you're not, you're not ready, you may not put yourself out there is a part of me wants to immediately say don't do anything, there's just one, you don't need to get yourself ready, you but you do need to put yourself out there. Right. So part of that is also just a mantra of don't underestimate yourself, be your own best champion. There's so many challenges in the world, you don't have to add to those. Right. So be Be your own cheerleader. I do think that it should pay attention. So when you the advice that was given to me was well, whose class do you enjoy? What class? Do you like going to what Professor is enthusiastic and has a way of being in the room that just appeals to you? That could be the person to go up to and say, Hey, I need some mentoring. I, I'm not sure what I want or where I'm going. Could I talk to you about that? And, you know, I I often will say this because students will say, Well, what if they don't want to talk to me? I said, well, then nothing has changed. You're in the same spot you were to begin with. Okay, so don't don't see that as a bad thing. If they say sorry, I'm really busy. I already have eight students that I'm entering. Okay, you're exactly where you were. When they before they said no. So, move along, find somebody else to ask the same question of you'll find you're right, you're right person in your right spot. I would say remember that there are opportunities at every school. So again, kind of going back to my view of if you've run a school that's right for you, then that school is awesome. That school is fantastic. So it whether or not it's big or small, whether or not it's you know, online or in person. When you find what's right for you. Create the opportunities that you want to have and Do you think they will be there for you? And, you know, just, again, just that issue of put yourself out there. So in my opinion, if you're thinking about engaging, that means you're already ready to engage. Because if you weren't ready, you wouldn't be thinking about it. Cool, so, so just do it. That's true. That's trademarked. So I didn't say that.

Venkat Raman  50:28  

It's as easy as that. Yeah. So Jennifer, thank you so much for taking the time. This has been a fascinating conversation. And I am sure I want to talk more about this with you in the future. But for right now, take care be safe. Thank you so much.

Jennifer C  50:45  

Thank you immensely, and you take care as well. Thank you. Bye. Bye.

--------------------

Venkat  50:57 

Hi again!

Hope you enjoyed our podcast with Prof Jennifer Coleman of the Western New Mexico University about Undergraduate Research.

Specifically, Prof. Coleman covered:

  • How UG Research Impacted her;
  • UG Research resources available to their students and faculty;
  • Enabling Research Online;
  • Student Success Stories;
  • Finally, advice to high schoolers.

I hope you pursue research during your undergraduate years and explore the Western New Mexico University for your undergraduate studies.

For your questions or comments on this podcast, please email podcast at almamatters.io [podcast@almamatters.io].

Thank you all so much for listening to our podcast today.

Transcripts for this podcast and previous podcasts are on almamatters.io forward slash podcasts [almamatters.io/podcasts].

To stay connected with us, Subscribe to Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Spotify or visit anchor.fm forward slash almamatters [anchor.fm/almamatters] to check us out.

Till we meet again, take care and be safe.

Thank you!

Summary Keywords

Podcast for High Schoolers, College Majors, US Colleges, College Podcast, Undergraduate Research Podcast, UG Research Podcast, High School Students, College-bound UG Research, undergraduate research, Western New Mexico University, WNMU, Student Research and Professional Development Fund, SRPD Fund.


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