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 Feature Story 

 

SPOTLIGHT

The Symposium for Student Research, Scholarship, and Creative Achievement

The Symposium for Student Research, Scholarship, and Creative Achievement at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania provides a forum where student achievement in all disciplines is shared and celebrated.   

The Symposium and The Journal of Scholarly Endeavor, (which contains abstracts of every Symposium presentation), showcase significant examples of student-faculty collaboration, emblematic of the innovative teaching and learning taking place at SRU. By participating in the Symposium students learn about research methods in their disciplines, the scholarly process of information dissemination, and the creative activity of exhibiting and performing original work.   

Over the fourteen years of its existence, the Symposium has yielded important benefits. By providing student scholars, artists and writers with a chance to present their work in a conference setting, in front of a critical audience of peers, the Symposium has helped spark enthusiasm for original work in all disciplines.   

The Symposium is a partnership between many individuals across the University. Obviously, most important are the students themselves and their faculty sponsors and mentors. Annually,  a core group of faculty have contributed significant time and effort to working directly with students on research, scholarship and creative projects that go beyond the requirements of day-to-day classwork. 

In its most basic expression, this student-faculty partnership: 
 

  • is a way to show students that discovery can take place;
  • is an experience where students do something that for them is original;
  • is an experience that makes the subject come alive for the student;
  • is an opportunity to influence the students’ lives, growth and maturation;
  • is an opportunity for one person, the faculty member, to have a real impact on the student.

This is a basic vision that admits many different kinds of discovery experiences, allowing students to understand well the essence of research, scholarship or creative achievement in an academic discipline. The lessons learned by the students are transferrable to the process of academic discovery in general, and the challenge of creating real world value, contributing leadership,  and achieving intellectual fulfilment as productive employees and citizens.

When the Symposium began in 2000 the focus was on a traditional concept of “research” as defined in the basic sciences. During the past 14 years that idea has enlarged to comprise high-level work in  all disciplines, whether testing hypotheses in laboratory experiments, conducting studies of human and animal subjects, marketing analyses, case studies, literary criticism and philosophical inquiry, art creation in all media, choreography and dance performance, theatrical dramaturgy, and music composition and performance.

Students work with their faculty sponsors to develop project plans, which they submit in early January to the Symposium Committee. Submissions are reviewed and critiqued by volunteer faculty reviewers in each College, with the help of Symposium Committee teaching faculty members appointed by the deans of each College. Between late February and the Symposium, which is held during the week following Honors Convocation, the students complete their work and prepare their presentations. Students may elect to conduct oral or poster presentations, to stage performances, or to mount exhibits. Since 2013 the Robert M. Smith Center has been available as a professional-quality conference venue which affords student participants an authentic academic conference experience. This year, 75 presentations will take place between 8:00 AM and 4:00 PM in the Smith Center third floor ballrooms and theater.

Besides the student participants themselves and their faculty sponsors, many individuals contribute to the success of the Symposium event. Staff of Information and Administrative Technology Services, the Smith Center, Facilities, Catering, Academic Affairs, the individual Colleges, and the Symposium Committee all work toward the common goal of producing a successful event. The Deans, Provost Way and President Norton sustain the ongoing effort to expand opportunities for SRU students who seek to work with faculty on research, scholarship, and creative projects. Our aim is to help establish SRU as the premier University in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education dedicated to student-faculty collaboration in teaching and learning.