As program coordinator of the Augusta University Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship (CURS), Abigail Drescher found success through collaboration.
Now, serving as manager of student recruitment and admissions for The Graduate School, Drescher will share the story of two of those collaborations at the Conference on Excellent Practices in Mentoring Undergraduate Research.
Her presentation, Brown Bag Seminar series: Process and assessment, will focus on her efforts to build upon the CURS Brown Bag Seminar series – a semester-long series of undergraduate research presentations – using resources and assistance from the James M. Hull College of Business and the University Libraries. The presentation will also address a problem understood by most undergraduate mentors: encouraging student-faculty interaction.
“I think a lot of students are intimidated by faculty, especially when interacting with them,” Drescher said. “What I saw from collaborating with Hull and the libraries is that you can sort of mitigate that intimidation by allowing students to see the result of other students’ interactions with faculty.”
The approach was two-fold.
Working with Hull, Drescher gained the aid of college staff and leveraged the use of student engagement survey software to track student attendance. The partnership allowed her to determine which students were attending and what they were attending for. It also allowed her to send out surveys after to measure the series’ effectiveness.
“I found that a lot of students were coming for, yes, the free pizza, but also that they were coming because they were actively interested in the topics being presented,” Drescher said. “Additionally, a majority of the students I surveyed said that they were more likely to get involved with undergraduate research because they attended.”
Then, working alongside Kim Mears, assistant professor and scholarly communications librarian, Drescher took what she achieved working with Hull one step further. Together, Drescher and Mears worked to build an online archive of previous Brown Bag Series presentations in the institutional repository, Scholarly Commons.
“Students are actually able to cite their presentation on their resumes or CVs when they’re applying to graduate school now,” Drescher said. “They also have links on there where people who are looking at their CVs can see their presentation as well as the student’s abstract and PowerPoint presentation.”
While an impressive accomplishment, especially for a relatively new employee working with a limited budget, Drescher said the collaborations she fostered weren’t particularly difficult to initiate or maintain. The key, she says, is putting in facetime.
“I think the biggest thing is that we’re always stuck behind our phones and our emails,” Drescher said. “I think email is great, and phone calls are great, but when you have that face time, that one-on-one, that can really make a difference with people