QEP Grants Awarded to Projects Aimed at Undergraduate Research

February 12, 2009

The Office of Undergraduate Discovery Programs (OUDP) kicked off 2009 with an announcement that no doubt pleased faculty and students.

Approximately $260,000 in grant dollars have been awarded to 23 projects aimed at enhancing undergraduate research.

These funds were made possible by the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) Curriculum Development Grant Program.

“Implementation of the QEP Curriculum Development Grant Program reaffirms the university’s commitment to student success,” said John Antel, UH provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.  “We are providing students with the resources, services and training they need to compete in a global market.”

Funded primarily by the OUDP and supplemented by the Office of Educational Technology and Outreach, these grants support existing coursework or help develop new classes aimed at enhancing undergraduate research.

“Building a research-supportive curriculum is the cornerstone of the Learning through Discovery Initiative and will directly benefit thousands of students,” said Veronique Tran, founding director of OUDP. “We expect that these enhanced courses will serve as a model for others and look forward to their successful implementation.”

The 2009 pilot projects range from enhancement of single core and major course to broader department and college initiatives that span multiple courses and levels.

Among the projects receiving grants is “The Ancient World Through Web-based Technology” overseen by Casey Dué Hackney, associate professor and director of classical studies, and Francesca Behr, associate professor of modern and classical languages. Using this grant, Hackney and Behr will host a workshop on undergraduate research in the humanities featuring award-winning scholar Christopher Blackwell, a specialist in adapting ancient texts to the Web.

Another project to benefit from this program is The Honors College’s “Writing Studios for Senior Honors Thesis Program.” The workshops are designed to familiarize students with the process of writing a thesis.

“A senior thesis is the culmination of a successful undergraduate career for many of the university's best students,” said William Monroe, dean of The Honors College.  “Some students who undertake a thesis are well-prepared and motivated but do not complete their projects.  Our hypothesis is that bringing students in related disciplines together in a workshop setting will help younger students successfully launch their projects and help others, further along, bring their projects to completion.”

Projects receiving grants will be implemented during the spring, summer and fall 2009 semesters. A complete list of these projects and their principal investigators can be found at http://www.uh.edu/discovery/FacultyStaff.html.

Proposals for these grants were submitted last fall and evaluated by interdisciplinary faculty teams from the Discovery Curriculum Development Task Force.  This annual grant program will accept proposals this fall for the next round of the research-enhanced courses to be offered in 2010. 

“This program benefits students in all disciplines by supporting the development of courses that engage them in research projects in the classroom and promoting involvement in course-related, community-based projects,” said Elaine Charlson, executive associate vice president for academic and faculty affairs. “The overwhelming response from our faculty shows that they are eager to integrate research into their teaching, which will enrich the learning experience and promote student success.”

The Learning Through Discovery Initiative was started in fall 2008 as the university’s QEP. As part of its reaffirmation of accreditation by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, UH developed a QEP centered on enhancing student learning. To learn more about other programs and resources of the Learning Through Discovery Initiative, visit http://www.uh.edu/discovery/.

Mike Emery