The Wheaton Research Partnerships (WRP) encourage faculty/student research partnerships on the Wheaton campus.
Research permeates all academic disciplines. Learning how to conduct discipline-based scholarly inquiry has often been omitted from the undergraduate curriculum and relegated to graduate school. With the growing recognition of the value of experiential learning, it is becoming clear that hands-on research experience may be an extremely valuable part of a student’s education, both in terms of learning and career preparation.
Scholarly inquiry at the undergraduate level may take many forms, all of which are of value to a student’s intellectual development. Faculty-student collaborations in the laboratory leading to a joint publication or senior thesis has been the model in the sciences for many years. However, a student carrying out a small task that assists in a much larger project is also learning how research is conducted. Similar apprenticeship models may be applied outside of the sciences as well. In all cases faculty mentors are providing students with the opportunity to learn the tools of their trade and to gain exposure to how scholarly inquiry is conducted in a particular field. The inquiry may take place in a laboratory, the field, studio, library, archive, the internet or wherever information may be gathered, discoveries made, or ideas tested. The experience need not lead to a new or significant publication, exhibit, or performance. It should, however, be meaningful to the student for his or her development as a practitioner of a particular field of academic inquiry. The faculty involvement may range from a side-by-side equal partnership to that of master and apprentice in which the student is given tasks to complete independently between meetings with the faculty sponsor.