Course profile: Undergraduate Research Problems

University of Akron

Independent study

Information for this profile was provided by John Szabo in 2007.

Jump down to Overview and Context * Course Content * Connecting to the Future of Science * Goals and Assessment * Additional Materials

Overview and Context

This is an independent research problem, supervised by a faculty member, ranging from 1 to 3 credits per semester. The problem may be completed within a semester or carry over into the next semester. Four credits of research may be applied toward elective hours in the degree program. This course has no prerequisites for geology majors. Upper level middle school and high school science education majors may also take this course either in their senior or junior years to satisfy the research component of their degree. The course is laboratory oriented.

Course Content

The student selects an area of interest in which a faculty member is currently conducting research. The faculty member discusses the hypothesis with the student and explains the research method. The student conducts the investigation using the appropriate procedures and synthesizes the data in a final report.

Connecting to the Future of Science

Using this course students are trained in the scientific method so they can appreciate what goes into a scientific paper. Many of the geology majors continue on to graduate school because they now know what research entails. Education majors learn the scientific method firsthand and can then pass it on to students when they are teaching in middle school or high school.

Goals and Assessment


Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:
  • formulate a hypothesis about a geologic problem.
  • collect data using appropriate methods in the field or laboratory.
  • analyze data to determine if it supports the formulated hypothesis.
In some cases students may be able to predict an outcome if more data were collected.


After evaluation of the results of the independent research, faculty members may suggest that the student present their study in an oral or poster session at the annual University research day or at a regional or national professional meeting. In both cases, students are judged by independent evaluators. Results of the judging may lead to awards for outstanding research projects.

Additional Materials

Here is a trifold brochure (Acrobat (PDF) 168kB Apr3 07) used for recruiting majors. Columns may appear to be out of order in the nonfolded format.
This poster about undergraduate research (Acrobat (PDF) 166kB Apr6 07) was created for the Provost's visit to the department.