Integrated research components a practical and effective alternative to senior projects
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Integrated Research Components: A Practical and Effective Alternative to Senior Projects. Ellen L. Walker Oberta A. Slotterbeck Hiram College {walkerel, [email protected] Models for Senior Projects. Capstone Project (e.g CC2001) Team-based, software engineering

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Integrated Research Components: A Practical and Effective Alternative to Senior Projects

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Integrated research components a practical and effective alternative to senior projects

Integrated Research Components: A Practical and Effective Alternative to Senior Projects

Ellen L. Walker

Oberta A. Slotterbeck

Hiram College

{walkerel, [email protected]


Models for senior projects

Models for Senior Projects

  • Capstone Project (e.g CC2001)

    • Team-based, software engineering

  • Honors Research Project or Thesis

    • Only for the best students

    • Goal: publishable research

  • 2004 Model Curriculum for Liberal Arts Colleges includes either


Integrated research components ircs

Integrated Research Components (IRCs)

  • Individual semester-long projects

  • Attached to specific courses

    • Separate 2-credit course with co-requisite

  • Required of all students

  • Two IRC’s required to graduate

    • Generally, junior and senior year


Student requirements for irc

Student Requirements for IRC

  • Proposal - within first two weeks

    • Sets scope and evaluation criteria for the project; negotiated with faculty member

  • Implementation - semester-long

    • Must include significant original code

  • Poster - 1 week before presentation

  • Presentation and Paper (as for a research conference) - end of semester

    • 20 minute oral presentations grouped into sessions on the last 1-3 evenings of the semester.


Integrated research components ircs1

Integrated Research Components (IRCs)

  • Individual semester-long projects

  • Attached to specific courses

  • Required of all students

  • Two IRC’s required to graduate

    • Generally, junior and senior year


Why attached to courses

Why Attached to Courses

  • Reduced intellectual load for faculty advisor (who is also teaching the course)

  • “Research group” experience for students

  • Synergy between course and research experiences

  • Interactions among pre-IRC and current-IRC students


Adapting courses for irc

Adapting Courses for IRC

  • Overview of Research Early

    • Both topics and methods

    • Also motivates non-IRC students

  • Refer to students’ projects as examples

    • Take advantage of students’ work

    • Provide “hints” when techniques are applicable

    • Students doing research ask deeper questions


Adapting courses for irc cont d

Adapting Courses for IRC (cont’d)

  • Require students to read and present papers from the literature

    • Models of research

    • Models of writing

    • Practice presenting technical papers


Project and course in same semester

Project and Course in Same Semester?

  • Rarely does a researcher know all that is needed before the project

  • Students’ research does double duty (helps in the course, also)

  • Projects tend to focus on topics covered early in the course

    • Not necessarily a good thing


Courses offered with irc s

Courses Offered with IRC’s

  • Artificial Intelligence

  • Bioinformatics

  • Computer Vision

  • Database

  • Graphics

  • Networks

  • Parallel and Distributed Systems

  • Simulation

  • Systems Administration


Integrated research components ircs2

Integrated Research Components (IRCs)

  • Individual semester-long projects

  • Attached to specific courses

  • Required of all students

  • Two IRC’s required to graduate

    • Generally, junior and senior year


Why all students

Why All Students?

  • Meets college-wide “capstone experience” requirement

  • All students can benefit from this experience

    • Experience research process before deciding about their future

    • Practice project planning, time management, communication skills important to workplace


Can all students do research

Can All Students Do Research?

  • Projects tailored to students’ abilities

    • “R”esearch vs. “r”esearch

  • Projects are staged

    • Develop complete simple version before adding complexity (list versions in proposal)

    • When time is up, submit latest complete version -- not necessarily the final version listed in the proposal


Example projects

Example Projects

  • “R”esearch

    • Locating, Tracking, and Interpreting Ean-13 Bar Code Waveforms in a Two-Dimensional Video Stream, Jeffrey Adair (2006 SRC Grand Finals 3rd place)

    • BLAST Organism Cross-Comparison as a Tool for Genomic Sequencing, Luke Chaney (poster at 25th annual Crown Gall Conference)


Example projects1

Example Projects

  • “r”esearch

    • A Walk Around Jacobs Field(Graphics)

    • Gin Rummy(Artificial Intelligence)

    • Using Shell Scripts to Back Up Various Unix Systems (Systems Administration)


Building community

Building Community

  • Semi-annual research conference

    • Open to all; highly encouraged for CS students, especially in early courses

    • Generates excitement about the field

  • Posters decorate our hall

    • Sense of “CS Pride”

    • Conversation-starters with prospective students


Integrated research components

Integrated Research Components

  • Individual semester-long projects

  • Attached to specific courses

  • Required of all students

  • Two IRC’s required to graduate

    • Generally, junior and senior year


Why senior year is too late

Why Senior Year is Too Late

  • If the project is poor…

    • Pressure on faculty to pass vs. prevent graduation

    • No opportunity to learn from mistakes

  • If the project is wonderful…

    • No chance to present externally (e.g. SRC)

    • Too late to apply for fall admission to graduate school (if newly excited about research)


Why 2 irc s

Why 2 IRC’s?

  • Feedback from first IRC applied to the second one, so more students end with a positive experience

    • Grades support this (next 2 slides)

  • “Second-IRC” students help “First-IRC” students, so quality improves overall


Grade distribution 2000 2005 n 42

Grade Distribution 2000-2005(N=42)


Grade improvement 2000 2005

Grade Improvement (2000-2005)


Outcomes

Outcomes

  • Students apply to, and are accepted into, competitive summer research programs and graduate schools

  • Students in summer programs and graduate school report that they were well-prepared

  • Students report that IRC project information on their resume and/or web page got them their jobs in industry


Outcomes cont d

Outcomes (cont’d)

  • Students have presented their IRC projects externally

    • ACM Student Research Competition

    • Crown Gall Conference (Bioinformatics)

    • ECCC Student Research Conference

    • Ohio Celebration of Women in Computing


Outcomes cont d1

Outcomes (cont’d)

  • Faculty report that the additional effort involved in supervising an IRC (even a large one) is reduced from the old “senior project” days

  • Because the IRC is a recognized course, it is counted in faculty load


Challenges that remain

Challenges That Remain

  • Getting students to write early drafts of their papers (and giving them feedback)

  • Getting students to submit good work externally, especially when it requires rewriting

  • Too many students end the semester feeling that they’re “just now ready” to work on their projects


Questions

Questions?

  • Our website has additional information

    • http://cs.hiram.edu/~walkerel/IRC.html


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