BI415 Senior Research

for FA 2007

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Vision Statement: Park University will be a renowned international leader in providing innovative educational opportunities for learners within the global society.


BI 415 Student Research


FA 2007 HOZ


Burns, Douglas M.


Associate Professor of Biology


- B.A. (Honors) in Biological Sciences (Micro/Zoo); University  of Missouri-Columbia
- Ph.D. in Molecular Biology; Vanderbilt University
- Postdoctoral Reseach in Metabolic Biochemistry and Endocrinology, Case- Western Reserve University School of Medicine

Office Location

101A Science Hall

Office Hours

M & T, 2-4pm; R, 12-1; F, 2-3; or by appointment

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Web Page

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Semester Dates

8/20 to 12/12/2007

Class Days


Class Time



Permission of the Instructor

Credit Hours



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Course Description:
This course is a limited, but original biological research project which will investigate (a) specific biological question(s) in an experimental manner. Data will be collected, analyzed, and interpreted. Conclusions will be derived and/or limitations of the study will be determined. The ultimate results of this project, no matter the degree of success, will be reported in both a written research report of the proper form and as one or more formal oral presentations.  
Students excelling in this course will gain vital experience in conducting research/collecting data and performing critical analysis in pursuit of the academic scholarly model. Students will train in a focused area under the direct supervision of a faculty mentor who will train them to be a researcher. Undergraduate research students will work collaboratively with their mentor to plan a course of study, formulate appropriate research questions, develop appropriate conceptual and technical skills, evaluate research findings, draw conclusions, and present a scholarly summary of this work in both written and oral reports.
The culmination of this regular schedule of study will be formal presentation of research findings in a professional forum and the submission of a written final research report in the format appropriate to the field or discipline. Participants in undergraduate research can expect to present their research findings, or a progress report, at Park's annual Research and Creative Scholarship Forum.

This project will complement and expand on a traditional biology education by emphasizing two essentials of a superior education:
       1. Active involvement of the student in performing all aspects of research scholarship -- as opposed to acting as the passive recipient of other people's written and spoken words of wisdom.
       2. Hands-on training in all phases of "research" is provided under optimal supervision by direct collaboration with (a) faculty mentor(s). The student benefits from considerable guidance from faculty mentors -- in planning a course of study, in formulating research questions, in developing conceptual and technical skills, in evaluating research findings, and in presenting research in both written and oral reports. Each undergraduate researcher will be trained as a research scientist

Educational Philosophy:
The best learning is by doing; this immerses the student in experience and process. Simple hearing and seeing and repeating often do not suffice to learn a complex topic, but learners remember most of what they do. This course is designed as a hands-on undergraduate research project supervised directly by a faculty mentor to emphasize the higher order skills of a student who has successfully reached junior standing. Critical thinking, creation of an experimental plan, review, analysis, extrapolation, interpolation, evaluation, prediction, and employment of knowledge are emphasized in this course of learning.

Class Assessment:

Class Assessment and Grading Plan: 

1. Design a specific research question in  a defined area of biology and formulate a workable plan of investigation. Write up a research proposal that is mutually agreed on by the student and mentor(s) -- and then approved by the department chair.  (15%).
2. Collect and evaluate experimental data designed to answer the question (25%).
3. Compose a written synthesis and evaluation of research findings in proper scientific format detailing the study, its results, and any conclusions as to the outcome of the investigation (30%). 
4. Prepare and deliver a formal oral presentation of the research study and its findings in proper scientific format (30%).

The grading plan is set out above.

Late Submission of Course Materials:
Not allowed for any reason.

Classroom Rules of Conduct:

1. The undergraduate research student and faculty mentor will meet on average once a week at a mutually agreeable time.
2. Student will take notes concerning what is discussed and research plans for the next week.
3. Periodic work sessions will be scheduled to ensure completion of the project.
4. Every effort should be made to complete the investigation in a reasonable length of time.
5. Progress of the research project will be discussed with the departmental chair and any interested faculty.

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:

During BI415, the undergraduate researcher is actively working under the supervision of their faculty mentor(s) on their individual project as set out in their research proposal. Research is time consuming and great must be exercised by the student in budgeting enought time to complete the work.
  The Expectations for BI415 Student Research: 
  1. Students will communicate regularly with their academic mentor and academic advisor concerning continued research activities and projections of what will be accomplished.  
  2. Students must have approval of the instructor to enroll or to continue with their research.   
  3. The research mentor(s) will directly oversee and guide the student through the particulars of the research process.
  4. While all course arrangements are made between the student and the research mentor(s), the student must continue to show visible progress in their plan of study.
  5. As with all research, the outcome may not turn out as expected. The goal of this research arrangement is to allow students the opportunity to engage in advanced studies; thus, the process itself is just as important as the product.  
  6. For each semester of BI415, the student is enrolled for from 2-3 credit hours. This means there is an expectation by the department and mentor that the student will spend an average of 3-9 hours each week working on their project. Over the course of a 16-week semester, the student will devote approximately 48-164 hours to their research project.
  7. The nature of research means that there will be some weeks where little progress is made and other times when rapid progress is made and the student spends all their spare time working on research. It is the research mentor(s)’s responsibility to work with the student to determine the amount of time and the time distribution required for each project.     
  8. It is necessary and practical to draw up an overall time-table and to construct concrete outcome goals for each semester's work. This will be accomplished during weekly meetings between student and mentor. Changes in projection of schedule and time-table may by mutaul agreement of student and mentor(s) as progress is made and problems identified.
  9. Changes in the body and/or aims of the research proposal during the course of actual research activity must be mutually agreed upon by student and mentor(s). 

Academic Honesty:
Academic integrity is the foundation of the academic community. Because each student has the primary responsibility for being academically honest, students are advised to read and understand all sections of this policy relating to standards of conduct and academic life.   Park University 2007-2008 Undergraduate Catalog Page 85-86

Plagiarism involves the use of quotations without quotation marks, the use of quotations without indication of the source, the use of another's idea without acknowledging the source, the submission of a paper, laboratory report, project, or class assignment (any portion of such) prepared by another person, or incorrect paraphrasing. Park University 2007-2008 Undergraduate Catalog Page 85

Attendance Policy:
Instructors are required to maintain attendance records and to report absences via the online attendance reporting system.

  1. The instructor may excuse absences for valid reasons, but missed work must be made up within the semester/term of enrollment.
  2. Work missed through unexcused absences must also be made up within the semester/term of enrollment.
  3. Work missed through unexcused absences must also be made up within the semester/term of enrollment, but unexcused absences may carry further penalties.
  4. In the event of two consecutive weeks of unexcused absences in a semester/term of enrollment, the student will be administratively withdrawn, resulting in a grade of "F".
  5. A "Contract for Incomplete" will not be issued to a student who has unexcused or excessive absences recorded for a course.
  6. Students receiving Military Tuition Assistance or Veterans Administration educational benefits must not exceed three unexcused absences in the semester/term of enrollment. Excessive absences will be reported to the appropriate agency and may result in a monetary penalty to the student.
  7. Report of a "F" grade (attendance or academic) resulting from excessive absence for those students who are receiving financial assistance from agencies not mentioned in item 5 above will be reported to the appropriate agency.

Park University 2007-2008 Undergraduate Catalog Page 87-88
On average, student and mentor will meet once each week.

Disability Guidelines:
Park University is committed to meeting the needs of all students that meet the criteria for special assistance. These guidelines are designed to supply directions to students concerning the information necessary to accomplish this goal. It is Park University's policy to comply fully with federal and state law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, regarding students with disabilities. In the case of any inconsistency between these guidelines and federal and/or state law, the provisions of the law will apply. Additional information concerning Park University's policies and procedures related to disability can be found on the Park University web page: .


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Last Updated:9/4/2007 2:33:47 PM