Undergraduate independent study research and coursework: from course credit to a proceedings at the 2019 Georgia Water Resources Conference

James Deemy, College of Coastal Georgia, Department of Natural Sciences, Brunswick, GA, United States and Kimberly Takagi, College of Coastal Georgia, Department of Natural Sciences, Brunswick, United States
Independent study research has been long established as a critical best practice in undergraduate professional development. Course projects have also been long established as critical tools for making classes active and engaged while also having potential to contribute directly to student professional development. During the spring of 2019, seven students completing independent study research combined this experience with course based projects in either a senior seminar course or oceanography. These research projects spanned a wide range of student interests from storm surge flood risk to oyster reef restoration suitability modeling. In both the senior seminar and oceanography each student was required to write a project abstract, report, and present in class as a normal assignment but were allowed to sync these assignments with their independent study projects. Normal course take home products were upgraded beyond normal assignments to professional products and milestones. Which served to increase student engagement and created a strong sense of community among students participating in the research experience. As a result nearly half of the student researchers presented at the CCGA Department of Natural Sciences colloquium series and all seven students submitted their independent study research to the 2019 Georgia Water Resources Conference. All of the student projects were accepted as poster presentations and ultimately resulted in six out of the seven students submitting conference proceedings. Consequently, by synthesizing these two (often separate) experiences students synchronized their efforts among multiple obligations to produce meaningful professional products.