Supporting Undergraduate Research Excellence (SURE), a new focus of the Research, Innovation and Engagement (RIE) 2020 Extended Annual Performance Plan (EAPP 2020), aims to enhance scholarly excellence in undergraduate research and teaching.
Undergraduate research, a ‘high-impact practice’, provides multiple benefits such as cultivating learning by inquiry, promoting critical thinking and engaged scholarship, which, in concert, has the potential to enhance student retention, completion and quality of graduates. Consequently, a series of webinars have been launched to promote the objectives of SURE.
The first SURE Webinar held on 3 September 2020, introduced research enhanced learning, particularly focusing on linking discipline-based research with teaching to benefit student learning.
This was presented by Professor Sibusiso Moyo (Deputy Vice Chancellor: RIE) and Dr Anisa Vahed (Project Leader: SURE). Subsequently, internationally renowned experts in undergraduate research, Prof Helen Walkington (Oxford Brookes University, United Kingdom) and Dr Anne Boettcher (Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona) were invited to engage with the Durban University of Technology (DUT) community at the second SURE Webinar, which occurred on Monday, 5 October 2020. The focus of their presentations were on the recommended systems and structures within an institution to support undergraduate research. Prof Walkington detailed nine established internationally recognised practices to support undergraduate students’ research at programme, faculty and university levels. She also emphasised the ten salient practices of undergraduate research mentoring, which is part of DUT’s Learning and Teaching Strategy. Dr Boettcher’s presentation transitioned into the enablers and constraints of undergraduate research from an institutional level, particularly highlighting the “Characteristics of Excellence in Undergraduate Research (COEUR)” developed by the Council On Undergraduate Research (CUR), which is used to guide faculties with their undergraduate research programmes. To further empower the DUT community on Undergraduate Research, additional and informative SURE webinars are to follow later this month, (October) 2020.
Professor Sibusiso Moyo
Prof Moyo holds a PhD in Mathematics from the University of Natal, South Africa and a Masters in Tertiary Education Management from the University of Melbourne, Australia.
She is an author of more than 54 journal articles and has supervised and mentored postgraduate students. She is also currently the Chairperson of the Centre for the Advancement of Science and Mathematics Education, an NGO that is based in Durban, Kwazulu-Natal.
Dr Anisa Vahed
Dr Vahed is a NRF ‘Y-Rated’ researcher and senior lecturer/dental technologist in the Dental Sciences department at the Durban University of Technology. Her research interests include undergraduate research-engaged teaching and internationalizing the curriculum through collaborative online international learning. She has delivered numerous papers, workshops and seminars on these interests in a range of national and international settings. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0164-9114; Email: email@example.com.
Professor Helen Walkington
She is from Oxford Brookes University where she teaches Geography and conducts research in her discipline as well as higher education pedagogy. She has been a National Teaching Fellow since 2009 and one of the first people in the UK to be made a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in 2012. Walkington
is co-chair of the International Network for Learning and Teaching, co-convenor of the Academic Practice network of the Society for Research in Higher Education, editor-in-chief of the journal GEOverse, an editorial board member of the Journal of Geography in Higher Education and co- editor of the international desk of the US journal SPUR (Scholarship and Practice of Undergraduate Research).
Dr Anne Boettcher
She is Director of the Undergraduate Research Institute and Honors Program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona. Prior to joining Embry-Riddle, she was a professor of Biology and undergraduate research program director at the University of South Alabama. While at South Alabama, she served as co-principal investigator for NSF-REU and principal investigator for Merck-AAAS programs, mentored more than 60 undergraduate and graduate research students, and integrated research and ethics components into all of her courses.
Pictured: (Left to Right)-Prof Helen Walkington, Dr Anne Boettcher, Dr Anisa Vahed and Prof Sibusiso Moyo, at the SURE webinar.