Students as Scholars is Mason’s undergraduate research and creative activities initiative. Mason faculty from many disciplines call their academic work scholarship, and we consider ourselves scholars. Students as Scholars is our way of giving undergraduate students an invitation to participate in research and creative activities, both within and beyond the classroom.
OSCAR, the Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities, and Research, is the home of the Students as Scholars initiative – it’s the name of the new office on the second floor of Johnson Center. Our QEP (Quality Enhancement Plan), required for re-accreditation, outlined the new Students as Scholars initiative for undergraduate research and creative activities. Since Mason’s accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) was reaffirmed in December 2011, we’ve moved away from calling it the QEP. But, if you look at our lightbulb visual identity, you can still see the QEP in the filament.
The mission of the Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities, and Research is to prepare students for the world through undergraduate research and creative activities. As the home of the OSCAR initiative, we foster a culture of student scholarship through increased participation in, and celebration of, undergraduate scholarly activities. Student learning is enhanced through a process of scholarly inquiry, where scholarship is valued as core practice of the Mason learning experience.
We want to ensure that:
- Student scholarship is pervasive on campus.
- Undergraduate degree programs offer opportunities for student scholarly inquiry, creative activities, and research
- Faculty support undergraduate students in scholarly inquiry, creative activities, and research.
- Students participate in scholarship, creative activities, and research.
- Students have opportunities to communicate the results of their research or creative activities.
- Students who have participated in scholarly activities are prepared for their career goals and advanced study (graduate or professional school).
The Students as Scholars initiative is organized to build students’ skills in undergraduate research and creative activities, as these skills are applicable to almost anything they will work on after college. Students will have increasing levels of engagement, beginning with the discovery of scholarship, moving through scholarly inquiry, and culminating with the creation of a scholarly or creative project.
- Undergraduate Research Scholars Program (URSP): The URSP is designed to give undergraduates an authentic research, creative, or scholarly experience under the guidance of a mentor. Students may receive financial support and/or academic credit for their projects, in addition to developing relevant academic and professional skills.
- Federal Work Study Assistantships: OSCAR has coordinated with the Office of Student Financial Aid in order to allow students to use their federal work-study funds for positions as undergraduate research assistants for faculty at George Mason University. The goal of this initiative is to expand opportunities for students to be introduced to the concept of scholarship, and to learn the research or scholarly methods in their field.
The Students as Scholars initiative gives faculty the opportunity to work with talented undergraduate students on exciting research and creative projects, both in the classroom and beyond. Although working with undergraduates has unique challenges, it can also be very fulfilling, both personally and professionally.
Our commitment to creating a culture of undergraduate student scholarship cannot be realized without faculty. They are the drivers of this change. There are many ways that faculty can contribute to this goal, both large and small.
Mentoring and research activities include:
- Mentoring a student in an individualized scholarly or creative activity, either through the department, an outside grant, or the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program.
- Introducing undergraduate students to an experienced undergraduate scholar, either through your own work or by inviting an OSCAR Fellow to present.
- Posting opportunities for undergraduate research or creative projects on HireMason.
- Attending a conference, meeting, presentation, performance or other scholarly event with an undergraduate student, including the CAA Undergraduate Research Conference, the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, or discipline-specific event.
- Publishing in the Council on Undergraduate Research’s CUR Quarterly journal or other peer-reviewed journal on the process of supporting undergraduate scholarship.
- Co-authoring a paper or presentation with an undergraduate student.
- Applying for outside research funding that includes funding for undergraduate students to participate in the research process.
Classroom and curricular activities include:
- Talking about your research and career path, including your own undergraduate experience, in an introductory class.
- Teaching a class that has been identified as meeting the Students as Scholars criteria at the Discovery or Inquiry Level.
- Applying for a Research and Scholarship intensive (RS) designation for a class in your department.
- Teaching a course identified as Research and Scholarship intensive (RS).
- Applying for a Scholarship Development Grant as a part of a team from your department to design your curriculum to include any of the three levels of student scholarship.
Community activities include:
- Participating in the annual Celebration of Student Scholarship.
- Serving as a reviewer at your college or school’s Undergraduate Research Symposium.
- Serving on the Students as Scholars Leadership Council or on a Students as Scholars subcommittee.
- Attending an OSCAR workshop to learn more about student scholarship at Mason.
- Sharing information about OSCAR in classes, including showing the website, videos, and student-designed promotional materials.
- Mentoring other faculty members in undergraduate research.
- Attending a Council on Undergraduate Research national meeting or workshop.
- Serving as the OSCAR contact for students in your department.
- Becoming a member of the Council for Undergraduate Research (which is free with Mason’s institutional membership).
- Being nominated for or awarded an OSCAR Mentoring Excellence Award.