For the fifth year, Anderson University students presented their work at Scholars' Day. The event, which showcased over 40 student research projects this year, was held in the Reardon Auditorium lobby at the end of the semester.
Scholars' Day started as an idea from Dr. Chad Wallace, professor of chemistry and dean of the School of Science and Engineering, five years ago. Wallace saw the outstanding research projects of his science students when they would travel to conventions and competitions. However, students’ peers and other professors did not see the work they had done.
“I felt sad because students were doing this really great work, but the AU community wasn’t getting to see what our students were doing,” said Wallace. “I also recognized that the same thing could be happening in other departments, so I thought it would be nice if we had one day where the AU community could come see the good work and research our students were doing.”
Students wishing to present must be recommended by a faculty member, along with the department chair, and approved before they can present at Scholars' Day. Students then submit an abstract to co-leaders Wallace and Dr. Scott Kennedy, professor of chemistry. The two professors collect the abstracts and verify the topics wishing to be presented.
Many students worked on their projects for nearly a year. Natalie Schuchardt, a senior English major, was one of the students to present this year. “My project focused on Toni Morrison,” said Schuchardt. “I spent last semester reading her novels and writing papers on them. I then compiled those papers into one large paper, and Scholar’s Day was the culmination of all that.”
Wallace and Kennedy go to great lengths to ensure the AU community is aware of Scholars' Day. Alumni, current students, and even prospective students are notified of the event, which has led to growth in the event over the past five years. “The first year, I spent a lot of time going to department chairs trying to explain to them how they could participate,” said Wallace. “The biggest growth is that, since that first year, all of our Honors students present their projects, more departments are involved, and we hold it at a convenient time.”
Because the event is now held at a convenient time for current students, many are able to take in their peers’ work. “We always hope that liberal arts professors make it an assignment for their class to attend,” said Wallace. “The idea behind that is that we want our younger students to see what the upperclassmen are doing and be inspired to do a research project themselves.”
Wallace also thinks that AU is great place for students to do this type of work because of the relationships students can have with professors. Students, Wallace says, do not have to take on these research projects alone because professors are easily accessible and are ready to help when needed.
Hannah Samples, a senior accounting and business information systems major, created a research project for this year’s Scholars' Day and found her faculty advisor to be extremely supportive. “My advisor, Melanie Peddicord, provided at least four or five articles to help me with the project,” Samples said. “She was particularly helpful for me.”
Scholars' Day is one of the perks of a tight-knit community like AU. Because of the interest and dedication faculty have for students, many were able to showcase their work for others to see.
Wallace finds that research projects are a great way to learn, and they instill disciplines in students that stretch beyond college.
“A research project challenges students,” said Wallace. “They will face adversity and frustration, and when they get out into the real world, they will have a sense of how to overcome it. They can be a part of the community that’s creating knowledge because college isn’t just about learning what other people have already done. There’s an aspect of being a part of the community that finds or makes something new.”
— Zach Wadley is a senior from Bourbonnais, Ill., majoring in communication arts. Wadley is an associate with Fifth Street Communications®, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God (Anderson, Ind.), Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.