Creative Inquiry: engaging students in real-world problems

The creative inquiry project at Clemson University has the goal of “a research project for every student,” says Barbara Speziale, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs at Clemson. It supports a intensive, discovery-oriented approach to learning for all students.

At Clemson, creative inquiry is for all students at all levels. Faculty and staff mentors work with small teams of students over multiple semesters. Creative Inquiry projects are either faculty-developed projects or department-embedded projects. The team-orientation of this program is one of its key characteristics.

Clemson’s creative inquiry projects are available on the program’s website.

Connection to the institution became a core component of Ohio Wesleyan University’s attempt at creative inquiry, says the university’s Dean of Academic Affairs Charles Stinemetz. According to Barbara Andereck, Associate Dean of Accreditation and Assessment, the OWU Connection Program includes a first-year seminar, course connection networks, travel learning courses, student individualized projects, and theory-to-practice grants.

Course connection networks combine faculty members toward discussion and collaboration on shared learning outcomes. Theory-to-practice grants include travel (both abroad and in the US), supplies, and resources to support individual students in the programs who want to continue the work initiated in the program’s experiences.

Core issues for developing institutional creative inquiry programs:

    • Funding for or endowing these programs
    • Examining budget models for faculty load time
    • Maintaining both team-based and individualized approaches for students
    • Embedding requirements for inquiry across general education and/or within individual majors

The Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) annual conference on General Education and Assessment was held at the New Orleans Marriott in New Orleans, Louisiana, February 23-25, 2012. I attended on behalf of Queens University of Charlotte with four faculty colleagues. Read all the articles on this conference here.

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