Since my project involves a variety of courses I didn’t examine the program and specific course goals and focused on the vision and mission articulated by the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CAHSS). The key aspect I believe my project connects to is the idea of providing teaching that “empowers students to become lifelong learners and responsible citizens who value scholarship, diversity and the pursuit of truth.” That, to me, is what engaging in research is all about. While my project focuses on how students feel about their research skills – self-efficacy – in the classroom. I see great value in how they utilize research skills in their daily lives. Most of the time without even realizing that they are doing so. Sometimes we run up against students’ complaints: “Well, I won’t ever use these skills.” And when it comes to research we can say, “You already are!”
In one of my courses, students will see how research is an integral part of what they’d do in a communications profession, even though we don’t call it research. In another course, the research tasks are explicit and specific, yet the concepts are wide reaching. This addresses another aspect of the college vision and mission, instruction that “enhances the skills of communication, problem solving, critical thinking and appropriate use of technology.” Most of these are actually research steps although never articulated as such in the CAHSS statements.
The terms “responsible citizenship” and “lifelong learning” are repeated and they make me realize how much a part of my teaching about research, while focused on reaching career goals, can and should have a much wider impact. Pedagogical innovation (mentioned in the mission) is necessary to make sure that we are giving students the skills they need to not only get a job, but also to live their lives.