SCHOLAR Day Highlights Undergraduate Academic Research at Mount Union College

April 25, 2008

Aubrey BowserMount Union College hosted SCHOLAR Day on Thursday, April 24, highlighting the projects of nearly 150 undergraduate students. Named by senior Aubrey Bower, SCHOLAR Day stands for Student Celebration Honoring Our Latest Academic Research.

During the inaugural SCHOLAR Day celebration, more than 60 students offered formal presentations, giving 15 minutes talk about the results of their research during three afternoon sessions. In addition, 80 students displayed posters depicting their research, answering questions and discussing their projects during a poster presentation and reception.

Students presenting formal and poster presentations during the day represented the departments of Art; Biology; Chemistry; Communication; Computer Science and Information Systems; Economics, Accounting and Business Administration; Education; English; Foreign Languages; Geology; Human Performance and Sport Management; Mathematics; Music; Philosophy and Religious Studies; Physics and Astronomy; Psychology; Political Science; Sociology and Theatre.

For many years, Mount Union College has required a Senior Culminating Experience (SCE) of each graduating senior. Similarly, several years ago, the College developed and implemented an Honors Program across the College and within academic departments for each major. To satisfy these requirements, many departments required their students to complete projects that asked the students to pull together core information from their fields of study and demonstrate competence in the knowledge and skills required of undergraduate students within their majors.

It was at this time that the idea of holding an event like SCHOLAR Day first came to light on campus. It became readily apparent that students were engaged in outstanding scholarship in their Honors and SCE projects. In addition, several departments also required students to do public presentations of their final projects. These events typically were attended by students and faculty within each department. However, several faculty members began discussing the idea of having a campus-wide day where this research and other scholarly projects could be displayed and celebrated publicly.

“An important objective of higher education is to encourage students to go beyond being passive learners and to become active participants in their chosen fields of study,” said Dr. Patricia Draves, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College, as she formally announced the beginning of SCHOLAR Day at the close of the Senior Recognition and Honors Convocation, also held Thursday. “We want our students to utilize the theories and methods that they have mastered throughout their educational careers by applying them in a meaningful manner. Undergraduate research is an important way that this objective is achieved.”

Soon after joining the administrative team at Mount Union in 2006, Draves invited a number of faculty members to participate in a Task Force on Undergraduate Research. The Task Force’s first job was to come to a definition of undergraduate research. Then came the work to envision a day to celebrate students’ research efforts. The Task Force grew to include students, administrators and staff and, during the 2007 Fall Semester, the College faculty approved a proposal by the Task Force to hold a campus-wide celebration of undergraduate research.

“While undergraduate research has been an integral part of the Mount Union curriculum for many years, until today we have not had a campus wide venue that gives our students a chance to share their scholarly accomplishments,” said Draves. “SCHOLAR Day not only gives students the opportunity to display the fruits of their educational labors, but it also serves to increase the community’s awareness of the outstanding research conducted here.”

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