Friday, May 21, 2010

Undergraduate Research at PUIs

Sometimes the Internet works like it should. Evidence at the following link, a blog post on The Scientist's blog. It appears to be about cutting science funding but what it really seems to say is that PUIs (Primarily Undergraduate Institutions like mine) shouldn't bother with undergraduate research, implying that it's just a fad that doesn't really help students and just exhausts faculty.

Yes, it's tiring, but good undergraduate research is not exclusive to teaching at all, and I think, done correctly, it vastly enhances teaching. No, we aren't going to publish like R01-funded institutions. That's why they have R15's! No, every student won't participate -- but each year 30-40 students participate through the biochem teaching lab under my charge.

I could spend more time refuting the bad arguments here, but the good news is the Internet community has already done it. Almost every comment below the blog post is substantial and contradicts the message of the interview above. For once I can say this is what it should look like, both in terms of Internet discussion and in terms of reiteration of the vital importance of the work of undergraduate research. Now, back to work!

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