BI415 Senior Research

for FA 2011

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BI 415 Senior Research


FA 2011 HOE


Williams, Donald L.


Associate Professor of Biology


BA, Kansas Wesleyan University, Biology and Secondary Education
MA, Western State College, Biology
Ed. D., Ball State University, Science (Biology)

Office Location

SC 114b

Office Hours

M-W, 3-4 pm; T-R, 9-11 am & 1-2 pm

Daytime Phone



Web Page

Semester Dates

August 15–December 9, 2011

Class Days


Class Time


Credit Hours


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Course Description:
BI415: Senior Research: This hands-on research course is the third component of the four-course Senior Research Capstone. Students will be expected to conduct research following the creation of a proposal in BI306 that will culminate in the production of a research paper and presentation. Projects will vary depending upon the interest and capabilities of the student and selected mentor. The final work will be evaluated by the Biology faculty. The completed research paper will be the core assessment as judged by the Biology Program faculty. 3:0:3

Educational Philosophy:

As per the BI415 course description, this instructor assumes the role of mentor (a.k.a., adviser, counselor, guide, or tutor), this is to say he is not the lead individual in the relationship, per se, but more of a co-collaborator.  Although a faculty mentor in a specific discipline should possibly be the more knowledgdable member of the collaboration, it is expected that the student mentee will, through his/her immersion into their subject, assume a greater and greater role as the expert in the topic.  Because of these dynamics, the mentor and mentee should be free to discuss, dialoge, and disagree, if necessary, on the direction and goals of the project as it progresses and evolves.  It is the hope of this istructor that such a relationship of honest, collegial dialogue will exist.
This instructor has an “open door” policy towards students. Above and beyond the expected weekly contact between professor and student, please feel free to come in or call if you have any questions concerning course items or college life in general.

  Instructor Learning Outcomes

  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.
Class Assessment:
This course is to include an 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.  The student will also create a poster outlining the research project and results suitable for presentation at a scientific association conference.

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" 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. In as much as possible within the limitations of budget and facilities at this facility, each undergraduate researcher will be trained in skills employed by research scientists.


1. Data collection in a systematic and timely fashion, using methods described in proposal; specifically, this will be evaluated via the student's research notebook compiled during the course of the research.  20%
2. Weekly meetings with advisor to discuss progress of research and modify study protocol as required; weekly reports patterned after the Honors Program will be employed to facilitate the grading process.    20%
3.  Analysis of results and written report submitted at the end of the semester; this will be a formal written paper formatted in a research style as determined by the student and the professor. 40%
4.  Oral presentation of results of study.  10%
5.  Poster presenting results of study for display on campus or at association conference.  10%

Late Submission of Course Materials:
Not permitted

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 care must be exercised by the student in budgeting enough time to complete their work.
If it becomes apparent that the research project will not be feasably completed within the current semester, the student should initiate a "Contract for Incomplete" to be processed and make arrangements to continue the research project in the next subsequent semester.

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 students and faculty members are encouraged to take advantage of the University resources available for learning about academic honesty ( or Park University 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 93

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. from Park University 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 93

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, but unexcused absences may carry further penalties.
  3. 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".
  4. A "Contract for Incomplete" will not be issued to a student who has unexcused or excessive absences recorded for a course.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 96

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:8/16/2011 11:51:30 AM