The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences requires each student to have an undergraduate research experience, preferably at the senior level. In our department, the governing course is GEV 6200, Independent Study. Regardless of the major, we implement the independent study/research component of the curriculum keeping in mind six fundamental outcomes for our graduates:
(1) Our students must acquire an understanding of the fundamental principles basic to science or social science research;
(2) Our students should become scientifically literate people who view the physical or human world in a disciplined and objective manner;
(3) Our students should have an intrinsic capacity to recognize challenges—scientific or human—and leverage their understanding of technology when confronting and solving complex problems.
(4) Our students develop the ability to speak and write clearly, using style, vocabulary, and organization appropriate to the audience and venue.
(5) Our students will learn to correctly employ standard conventions in written and oral communications in a scientific context. Students can focus on a purpose; develop flexible strategies for generating, revising, editing, and proofreading; understand that there are common formats for different kinds of writing requirements; practice appropriate means of documenting their work; and use a variety of technologies to address a range of audiences.
(6) The senior independent study project/thesis also provides a valuable professional experience for our students. As part of this project, they will:
(a) Understand the importance of organization, timeliness, and professional speaking.
(b) In preparation for possible work and graduate school experiences, they will become familiar with the exacting standards that are observed in the preparation of a professional paper.