2006 Teaching and Learning Symposium

3:00-4:30 p.m., April 25, 2006
Mary Gates Commons


Session Description

International Undergraduate Field Research: Training Chinese and American Students to be Working Researchers

Stevan Harrell (Anthropology, Burke Museum, UW Worldwide Program), David Yu Weng (Junior in Life Sciences at Sichuan University), and J. Alex Kyllo (Junior in International Studies at the University of Washington)

For four years now, I have been involved with the UWWorldWide Sichuan University Exchange (depts.washington.edu/uwww/), which sends a group of University of Washington Students to Sichuan University in Chengdu for the academic year, and brings a comparable group from SU to Seattle.  While students are on the exchange program, in addition to taking classes at the host university, they engage in individual and/or team research projects related to the environment, from science or social science perspectives. 

Teaching in this program has involved supervising students at a distance and also supervising cooperation and collaboration between Chinese and American faculty, students, and administrators.  We set out to determine whether this kind of model was an effective way of teaching students through hands-on involvement in scientific research.  We have found through observing three and a half classes worth of students at both universities that undergraduates are far better able to design projects and collect data than we had imagined, but at the same time find it much more difficult than we had imagined to write up or otherwise present their research.