Wabash Provost Scholars Program
Engaging Students as Co-Researchers in Institutional Inquiry
Wabash-Provost Scholars are a group of undergraduate North Carolina A&T State University students trained to conduct focus group sessions, surveys, and other assessment activities aimed at improving the learning environment at the university. These students work alongside faculty and administrators in guided campus inquiry. Their activities include developing questions and assessment instruments, collecting and analyzing data, summarizing findings, sharing their results with the university community, and presenting on their research experiences at conferences.
Originally developed to “dig deeper” into North Carolina A&T’s Wabash National Study results, the Wabash-Provost Scholars Program has become a highly-valued component in the university’s institutional assessment process, providing important student-level feedback and recommendations on a variety of institutional issues. Comprised of students from a wide array of majors, the program illustrates how “high impact practices” such as undergraduate research experiences can be made available to all students, regardless of discipline, while also providing valuable research service to the university.
The Wabash-Provost Scholars Program started in the fall of 2008, when the first 17 Scholars were trained. Additional cohorts of Scholars were trained in fall 2009, spring 2010, fall 2010, spring 2013, and fall 2013. Currently 15 Scholars are actively participating in this program as student researchers.
Becoming a Wabash-Provost Scholar
Wabash-Provost Scholars enroll in a one-credit-hour course, which may be repeated. Undergraduate students are invited to participate in the Wabash-Provost Scholars Program through a campus-wide invitation and information session where current Scholars describe program responsibilities and their personal experiences as student researchers. Potential Scholars are admitted into the course with the permission of the directors. Scholars must maintain at least an overall 3.0 grade point average (a “B” average) while in the program.
As part of the Wabash-Provost Scholars course, Wabash-Provost Scholars complete focus group and Institutional Review Board (IRB) training prior to conducting assessment activities. All Wabash-Provost Scholar activities are carried out under IRB approval.
Wabash-Provost Scholar research focuses on a single institutional research issue each semester. The Scholars conduct student focus group sessions and implement surveys to gather ground-level data reflecting "student voices" on issues of importance to the university. Focus group questions are carefully developed in consultation with faculty members and administrators working on these issues. Typically, input from more than 100 students is gathered via small focus group sessions, with 6-8 students participating in each session.
Focus group data is analyzed by the Wabash-Provost Scholars in data-analysis sessions coordinated by the directors, Dr. Karen Hornsby, Dr. Scott Simkins, and Dr. Radiah Minor. Preliminary reports are created by the Scholars, with multiple revisions completed before a final report of findings and recommendations is developed.
Reports and Presentations
Reports. The Wabash-Provost Scholars regularly develop written reports on their institutional assessment activities. A number of the reports below are available for public download:
Wabash-Provost Scholars Report - April 2009. Summary of student focus group sessions conducted as a follow-up to the Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education first-year results for NC A&T State University; also includes recommendations based on the focus group results.
Wabash-Provost Scholars Report - April 2010. Summary of student focus group sessions and surveys conducted to assess the relative benefits of faculty-led and student-led Supplemental Instruction, as well as the results of student time-use diaries.
Wabash-Provost Scholars Report - January 2011. Summary of student focus group sessions related to improvement of the intellectual climate at NC A&T; also includes recommendations based on the focus group results.
Wabash-Provost Scholars Reports - May 2011 and May 2013. Wabash-Provost Scholars led focus group sessions on the experiences of students in mathematics courses (May 2011) and in Math Emporium courses (May 2013). These reports were used by the Department of Mathematics to redesign and improve lower-level math courses.
Wabash-Provost Scholars Report - December 2014. This semester's topic: transfer students' experience at NC A&T State University. The report discusses how the university can recruit, enroll, support and retain more transfer students, especially those from NC community colleges. Increasing the number of transfer students is a critical strategic priority for the university.
Presentations. Wabash-Provost Scholars regularly present the findings of their focus group research to top-level administrators and the academic community at NC A&T State University. In addition, the co-directors and students have presented at regional, national, and international meetings on the integration of students in the institutional assessment process. Past presentations, including handouts and slides, are provided below.
[Note: ** designates presentations by/including Wabash Provost Scholars]
**Karen Hornsby, Scott Simkins, Tawanna Franklin (Scholar), and Alice Moore (Scholar), Moving SoTL Forward: Engaging Students as Co-Researchers in Institutional Inquiry and Assessment, International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL) Conference, Raleigh, NC, October, 2013 (handout - pdf format)
Karen Hornsby and Scott Simkins, Engaging Student Voices in Institutional Inquiry and Assessment, Preconference Workshop - A Chorus of Student Voices in SoTL: Researching With (not preaching to) the Choir, International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Conference, Milwaukee, WI, October, 2011
**Karen Hornsby, Scott Simkins, Amanda Benston (Scholar), and Emmanuel Johnson (Scholar), Engaging Student Voices in Institutional Inquiry and Assessment, Elon Teaching & Learning Conference: Thresholds to Learning, Elon University, Elon, NC, August 2011
**Karen Hornsby, Scott Simkins, Kristen Lee (Scholar), and Jordan Pippin (Scholar), Engaging Student Voices in Institutional Inquiry and Assessment, 2011 Lilly Conference on College and University Teaching, Greensboro, NC, February, 2011
**Karen Hornsby, Galen Foresman, Mitchell Brown (Scholar), Porche Millington (Scholar), and Charles Blaich (Center for Inquiry at Wabash College), Engaging Student Voices in Institutional Inquiry and Assessment, 2011 AAC&U Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA, January, 2011
**Karen Hornsby, Scott Simkins, Mitchell Brown (Scholar), and Melanie Hampton (Scholar), Creating a Culture of Inquiry: Recasting Institutional “Problems” as SoTL Opportunities (That include Students in the Inquiry Process), 2010 Lilly Conference on College and University Teaching, Greensboro, NC, February, 2010 (slides, handout - pdf format)
Karen Hornsby and Scott Simkins, Reframing Institutional Assessment Involving Faculty and Students in SoTL Efforts Focused on Institutional Objectives, 2010 International Lilly Conference on College Teaching, Oxford, OH (Miami University), November, 2009 (slides, handout - pdf format)
**Mitchell Brown (Scholar), Factors Affecting Student Success at North Carolina A&T State University, NC Honors Association Annual Meeting, Raleigh, NC, October, 2009 (slides - pdf format)
Karen Hornsby and Scott Simkins, Reframing Institutional Assessment Involving Faculty and Students in SoTL Efforts Focused on Institutional Objectives, 2009 International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL) Conference, Bloomington, IN (Indiana Univ.), October, 2009 (slides - pdf format)
**Karen Hornsby, Scott Simkins, Rebecca Geiger (Scholar), and Shannell Chappell (Scholar), Faculty and Student-Driven SoTL Focused on Institutional Needs, 2009 Lilly Conference on College and University Teaching, Greensboro, NC, February, 2009 (slides - pdf format)
Recent Scholarship Highlighting the Wabash-Provost Scholars Program
Baker, G. R. (2012). North Carolina A&T State University: A culture of inquiry (NILOA Examples of Good Assessment Practice). Urbana, IL: University of Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment. [See “Wabash-Provost Scholars Program” (pp. 5-6).] Online: http://www.learningoutcomesassessment.org/documents/NCAT.pdf
Felten, P., Bagg, J., Bumbry, M., Hill, J., Hornsby, K., Pratt, M., & Weller, S. (2013). A call for expanding inclusive student engagement in SoTL. Teaching & Learning Inquiry: The ISSOTL Journal, 1(2), 63-74.
Hutchings, P., Borin, P., Keesing-Styles, L., Martin, L., Michael, R., Scharff, L., Simkins, S., & Ismail, A. (2013). The scholarship of teaching and learning in an age of accountability: building bridges. Teaching & Learning Inquiry: The ISSOTL Journal, 1(2), 35-47.
Hutchings, P., Huber, M. T., & Ciccone, A. (2011). The scholarship of teaching and learning reconsidered: Institutional integration and impact. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. [See “The SoTL Meets Assessment: New Roles for Students” (pp. 79-80).]