Four Loras College students, Amanda McKenna (’14)
(Wheaton, Ill.), Michael Uhl (’16)
(Bensenville, Ill.), Robert Bauch (’13)
(Freeport, Ill.), and Hannah Swart (’14)
(New Berlin, Wis.),
presented at the “Promoting Undergraduate Research at Liberal Arts Colleges” conference at Augustana on April 6, 2013. The students were joined in their presentation by assistant professor of English, Erin VanLaningham, Ph.D.
“My students and I co-presented on the research that was done in my January term course, ”Reading Charles Dickens’ Bleak House in Context”
. The presentation included my discussion of the course design to encourage students to use Loras College Library’s Special Collections’ extensive holdings of Dickens’ serial novels and journals in their research. The research project asked students to use primary sources as a way to interpret literature of the same period (Dickens’ novel), making Victorian culture and literature come to life in conversation,” said VanLaningham.
The presentation was highly regarded by faculty from various institutions attending the session. The one-day conference at Augustana College—Rock Island encouraged faculty to share best practices in facilitating, enhancing and encouraging undergraduate research. Faculty from around the Midwest attended, including representatives from Dordt, Wartburg, Coe, Mount Mercy, Illinois College, Carthage, Cornell, Clarke University, University of St. Francis, and University of Dubuque.
“I appreciated the opportunity to co-present with students about the experience of this “rare” research opportunity, and to reflect further on the practice of encouraging undergraduate research projects. In our session, we had other humanities professors, as well as the special collections librarian at Augustana, who was very engaged with our model,” explained VanLaningham.
19 students participated in VanLaningham’s January term course. More than 30 courses are offered to Loras College students each January, focusing on intense study of specific subject matter.