P819: Well, that didn’t work: Redesigning the capstone course and undergraduate research opportunities at a PUI
Until recently, the Chemistry Department at Marietta College offered a capstone experience for its seniors that involved “forced” senior research projects. While some productive research projects were completed, all too often the faculty were left frustrated by the lack of enthusiasm, motivation, and independence shown by our seniors. However, because we believed that a research experience was a crucial part of an undergraduate education, we continued offering this increasingly ineffective capstone model. In 2011, we redesigned our capstone course to focus on chemical information skills, critical thinking skills, research project design, advanced instrumental techniques, and public presentations, as well as preparing students to apply to REU programs, graduate/professional schools, and jobs in the private sector. Simultaneously, we opened up research opportunities to students beginning in their second semester of their freshman year. This talk will discuss the challenges we faced, the decisions we made, the successes we have had to date, and the expectations we have both for meeting the needs of our seniors and for developing a sustainable research program.