Monday, August 20, 2001

College students pick research over summer jobs

The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — College students are passing over typical summer jobs for research projects that provide them with valuable experience plus money or credit for school.

        Instead of working at a mall or restaurant, Ohio University student Carolyn Reilly, 22, is spending her summer in Hawaii studying freshwater algae and varieties of violets for six credit hours.

        “You sit there in class like, "Blah-blah-blah — this is so boring,'” she told The Columbus Dispatch for a story Sunday. This is “just so much more real. It's so much more interesting than reading about it.”

        The trend of following college out of the classroom gained momentum in 1998 when a team of scholars called the Boyer Commission issued a report urging universities to include undergrad uates in research.

        Now Ohio State University has at least 2,000 undergraduate students doing research; smaller public universities in Ohio report hundreds of students participating.

        Miami University students can get 12 credit hours and $2,300 to be Summer Scholars, said John Czaja, associate director of Miami's office for the advancement of scholarship and teaching.

        “We've found that the process of gathering knowledge, understanding it and evaluating it — you can take that anywhere in life,” Mr. Czaja said.

        Kathleen Woodhouse, an international-studies major at Miami, spent two months in Paris this summer researching marriages of North Africans and French.

        She said she learned a lot.

        “I found it's a lot more acceptable when a North African man marries a French woman than the other way around,” said Ms. Woodhouse, 20.

        Linda Meadows, assistant vice president for research at Ohio State, said students learn more by doing research than sitting in a classroom.

        “This kind of inquiry-based approach to learning is really what helps students understand, learn and put things together on their own,” she said.

        Martin Abraham, associate dean for research and graduate studies in Toledo's College of Engineering, said research can be especially rewarding for students at larger schools, where it's difficult to stand out.

        “One thing you hear from faculty is, as class sizes grow, you can get this impersonal relationship with the students. Well, this is a way around that,” Mr. Abraham said.


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