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Partnerships for Emerging Research Institutions: Report of a Workshop Introduction Colleges and universities engage in research and development— faculty-directed non-sponsored research to understand existing knowledge through the process of inquiry and exploration; basic research to expand knowledge or understanding of phenomena without a goal of specific applications toward processes or products; applied research to determine possible uses for the results of basic research, thereby discovering new scientific knowledge with specific commercialization objectives; and development to use the knowledge gained from research to produce useful materials, devices, systems, or methods, including the design and development of prototypes and processes.1 With no nationally supported system of higher education, the United States spends little on faculty-directed and undergraduate research. There is significant funding for basic and applied research, primarily through the federal science agencies—the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), portions of the Department of Defense (DOD), portions of the Department of Energy (DOE), and more. With respect to development activities, these also are nationally funded, through DOD 6.3 Advanced Development and 6.4 Demonstration/Validation funding available to industry, for programs such as the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, or through the federal laboratories housed within various agencies. 1 National Science Foundation. 2008. Science and Engineering Indicators.
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Partnerships for Emerging Research Institutions: Report of a Workshop Basic research is largely concentrated in this nation’s research universities. However, as recent reports imply, there is a need to broaden the base of universities that can undertake such research so that the United States can remain a leader in the global economy (Hauger and McEnaney, 2000). Most colleges and universities are not classified as research universities and conduct little ongoing sponsored basic research. Originally, the intent of the September 2007 workshop, “Partnerships for Emerging Research Institutions” (ERIs), was to examine access to research at institutions receiving less than $15 million a year in federally sponsored research.2 As the committee planned the workshop, however, it became evident that the issues and solutions were far more generic and applied to all but the research universities. For the purposes of this report, therefore, ERIs include all master’s colleges and universities, baccalaureate colleges, and tribal colleges according to the 2005 Carnegie Classification system (see Appendix D). The questions addressed in the workshop were: What does the presence or absence of basic research signify for student achievement? What obstacles currently preclude access to research for ERIs? What approaches can be used to overcome these obstacles? The workshop did not focus on the lack of research equipment or research funding as obstacles. The inability to compete for resources instead was regarded as a symptom of more fundamental structural deficiencies. Two categories of barriers were discussed in depth at the workshop: (1) a severe lack of time for teaching-intensive faculty to conduct research, and (2) insufficient administrative infrastructure to support even the modest daily routines required by a research enterprise. THE IMPORTANCE OF EMERGING RESEARCH INSTITUTIONS Emerging Research Institutions (master’s colleges and universities, baccalaureate colleges, and tribal colleges) constitute one-third (1,463) of the 4,392 institutions of higher education that are listed in the 2005 Carnegie Classification system (see Appendix D), and they enroll over 30 percent of the U.S. post-secondary student population (see Figure 1). In 2 The Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP) defines Emerging Research Institutions as institutions whose federal obligations are less than $20 million annually for research and development and are funded by at least two FDP federal agencies. Institutions whose annual federally supported expenditures are less than $15 million may participate in FDP activities.
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Partnerships for Emerging Research Institutions: Report of a Workshop FIGURE 1 Basic Carnegie classification: distribution of institutions and percentage of total enrollment, 2005. NOTE: Fall enrollment may not reflect the total number of students served over the course of a year. Tribal colleges (32) account for 0.10% of total enrollment. SOURCE: 2005 Carnegie Classification; National Center for Education Statistics, IPEDS Fall Enrollment (2004). addition, excluding the associate colleges, they enroll the largest number of undergraduates and the largest proportion of the minority student population, as shown in Table 1 and Figure 2. Many workshop participants shared the belief that ERIs potentially can contribute more significantly to innovative research and must play a more prominent role in sustaining the nation’s technological competitiveness. However, the research universities receive 83 percent of total federal obligations for research and development (R&D), according to NSF FY 2005 data (Table 2). Moreover, federal academic science and engineering (S&E) obligations totaled $28.3 billion in FY 2005, and the leading 20 universities (ranked in terms of total S&E obligations) received 34 percent of that total. Generally, ERIs also reflect a relatively low level of research activity as measured by science and engineering (S&E) R&D expenditures, non-S&E R&D expenditures, and S&E research staff (postdoctoral appointees and non-faculty research staff with doctorates).3 3 The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, March 7, 2006.
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Partnerships for Emerging Research Institutions: Report of a Workshop TABLE 1 Enrollment in All Fields, by Race/Ethnicity and 2005 Carnegie Classification of Schools, Fall 2005 Enrollment and Race/Ethnicity Total Emerging Research Universities Research Institutions Associate’s Colleges Special Focus Undergraduate enrollment 14,514,807 3,508,655 4,415,845 6,326,050 264,257 American Indian or Alaska Native 142,169 27,153 38,097 65,273 11,646 Asian or Pacific Islander 883,526 281,754 184,630 405,563 11,579 Black, Non-Hispanic 1,730,322 324,002 564,087 815,855 26,378 Hispanic 1,705,019 272,690 460,436 943,085 28,808 White, Non-Hispanic 8,892,473 2,302,934 2,789,892 3,654,485 145,162 Other/Unknown Race & Ethnicity 855,930 197,187 278,372 347,931 32,440 Temporary Resident 305,368 102,935 100,331 93,858 8,244 Graduate enrollment 2,160,672 1,229,305 821,191 628 109,548 American Indian or Alaska Native 11,735 6,381 4,708 0 646 Asian or Pacific Islander 100,101 62,361 30,514 4 7,222 Black, Non-Hispanic 198,023 92,767 95,909 67 9,280 Hispanic 136,890 62,471 65,435 6 8,978 White Non-Hispanic 1,239,246 681,210 494,774 532 62,730 Other/Unknown Race & Ethnicity 215,845 114,765 90,992 17 10,071 Temporary Resident 258,832 209,350 38,859 2 10,621 NOTE: Special focus institutions also include tribal colleges and institutions not classified. SOURCE: National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Statistics, special tabulations of U.S. Department of Education. National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, Fall Enrolment Survey, 2005.
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Partnerships for Emerging Research Institutions: Report of a Workshop FIGURE 2 Percent undergraduate enrollment by race/ethnicity and Carnegie classification, Fall 2005. SOURCE: National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Statistics, special tabulations of U.S. Department of Education. National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, Fall Enrollment Survey, 2005. Some ERIs are in a unique position to provide access and opportunity to underserved populations, including minorities and the economically disadvantaged. For example, Benjamin Flores described the University of Texas at El Paso’s mandate to serve the region: to provide the resources and the education necessary for the region to thrive economically. He reiterated the importance of research in stating that it enables the institution to create, interpret, validate, and apply disseminated knowledge. He added, “But we also want to attract and retain a diverse and innovative faculty that will be dedicated to both teaching and research.” This is a compelling statement about the impact of ERIs in producing the next generation of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) knowledge workers. Workshop participants attested to their research capabilities that are largely untapped and provided testimonials about their graduates who have proven to be highly competitive for graduate school and the job market. In addition, they stressed the fact that, when given the opportunity to compete individually for research funding or to collaborate with other institutions, ERI faculty researchers have proven their strength and capability as high-performing scholars.
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Partnerships for Emerging Research Institutions: Report of a Workshop TABLE 2 Federal Obligations for Research and Development by Basic Carnegie Classification: 2005 NOTE: Dollar amounts are in thousands. ERIs are shaded. SOURCE: National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Statistics, special tabulation. THE IMPORTANCE OF UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH The impact of research on student outcomes has been studied extensively by the Council on Undergraduate Research, represented at the workshop by Kerry Karukstis, president of the Council on Undergraduate Research and professor of chemistry at Harvey Mudd College. Articles have appeared in the Council on Undergraduate Research Quarterly that attest to the merits of undergraduate research and emphasize the need for all institutions, regardless of size or disciplinary focus, to integrate research fully into undergraduate education. These include Wesemann (2007), Mateja (2006), Lopatto (2003), Hakim (1998), and Spilich (1997). Some of these writers reference the Boyer Commission’s Report, “Reinventing Undergraduate Education” (Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates in the Research University, 1998 and 2002) that makes research-based learning the standard for undergraduate education for all institutions. In the workshop, Karukstis proposed a definition for undergraduate research, as follows: Undergraduate research is an inquiry or investigation conducted by an undergraduate in collaboration with a faculty mentor that makes an original intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline.
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Partnerships for Emerging Research Institutions: Report of a Workshop This definition revisits the teacher-scholar model (Kuh et al., 2007) for faculty members and distinguishes undergraduate research from unsupervised, undirected student activity, sometimes also called research. Further, it emphasizes the fact that the scientific merit of the program must be fundamental to the undergraduate research. The student-centered nature of this process is clearly why undergraduate research has been demonstrated to be an effective pedagogical tool. However, in successful practice, it must be faculty driven, student centered, and institutionally supported. As documented in various studies and investigations—Seymour et al. (2004), Hunter et al. (2006), and Lopatto (2006)—Karukstis then described the benefits of undergraduate research to the students who participate in it: Increased connection to and retention within the field Stronger propensity for enrollment in graduate education Increased employment in major-related careers Greater gains in academic performance and the acquisition of professional skills (cognitive adaptation, communication, interdisciplinary training) Greater participation in other intellectual opportunities on campus Increased opportunity to overcome traditional boundaries for women, minorities, and first-generation students These findings were echoed by other presenters. Eugene Collins, director of the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at Fisk University, spoke about the value of student research in teaching students about the interrelationship among the disciplines, and mentioned the increased self-confidence that students gain by being a part of a new discovery process. He cited his university’s experience, where the physics department is particularly strong and where research is integral to the total academic experience. There, 50 percent of the undergraduate researchers produce a refereed journal article before graduation, thereby significantly elevating their competitiveness for acceptance to graduate school and prospective careers. This in turn strengthens the reputation of the institution and positively reinforces the students. Benjamin Flores, the associate dean of engineering graduate studies at UTEP, articulated his institution’s recent experience with undergraduate research. At their predominantly Hispanic institution, the majority of students are commuters, receive financial assistance, and are the first in their families to pursue a college degree, which makes them at risk.
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Partnerships for Emerging Research Institutions: Report of a Workshop Accordingly, the graduation rate4 of students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) is approximately 25 percent, or half of the national average. However, among students who had a research experience, more than 90 percent completed their baccalaureate degrees at UTEP, and more than 40 percent continued on to graduate school. Dorothy Zinsmeister, assistant vice chancellor for academic affairs for the University System of Georgia, injected the term “scholarship” rather than “research” when referring to institutional activities that produce an end product that is peer reviewed and published. In this regard, she stated that scholarship could encompass research, a view shared also by Kent Barefield, associate dean of the College of Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Jodi Wesemann of the American Chemical Society. Near the end of the session, Marcus Shute, vice president for research and sponsored programs at Tennessee State University, contributed a quotation from Shirley Anne Jackson, the president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. It emphasized the futility of trying to teach science and engineering without ever exposing the students to the underlying methodology by which these fields came to be, “Teaching without research is like confession without the sin.” ORGANIZATION OF THE REPORT This report summarizes the presentations and discussions of the workshop under two main headings: Major Barriers to Access to Research and Solutions to Overcoming Barriers. The obstacles and solutions are presented under subheadings to enable the readers to refer to specific issues confronting the institutions. The section “Funding and Other Resources” presents examples of the options that can be packaged to remedy the problem of limited resources. It also describes funding models that have proven effective in addressing some of the challenges facing emerging research institutions. These include federal programs that can enhance the capacity of ERIs to conduct research. The final section synthesizes the key ideas presented by workshop participants throughout the discussion. 4 Defined by the count of students graduating in six years or less from matriculation.