Mount Mercy’s ‘Pathways to Scholarship’ Quality Initiative increases faculty/student partnerships

Through its successful Quality Initiative, Mount Mercy’s campus has seen an increase in faculty-student partnership in addition to individual research projects.

Mount Mercy received approval from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) for its Quality Initiative project, Pathways to Scholarship. The university is participating in the launch of a new HLC accreditation model that includes a campus-specific improvement project, the Quality Initiative. Mount Mercy’s two-year project placed special focus on energizing scholarship by encouraging faculty and student engagement in research and creative work, both individually and through collaborative teams.

“This is a significant step for Mount Mercy University and a moment to celebrate our collective efforts to strengthen and share the scholarly activity on campus,” said Provost Melody Graham.

As part of the Pathways to Scholarship initiative, the university appointed faculty member Dennis Dew, Ph.D., to serve as undergraduate research coordinator. Dew is also assistant professor of psychology at Mount Mercy. In his role as coordinator, he works closely with faculty and students interested or involved in scholarship projects. Students can apply through this program to work with faculty members as research/creative assistants, receiving funding while they learn about the research process in their fields of interest. Students and faculty from a broad range of majors have already participated in these opportunities.

To raise awareness of these activities and share the knowledge gained, the university hosts an undergraduate scholarship festival each spring. Presentations from more than 80 students mentored by over 30 faculty were shared at the 2012 event.

Topics included development and implementation of an EMR (Electronic Medical Records) System for the Department of Nursing, “Understanding the Molecular Mechanism of Glaucoma: Testing the Interaction Between Wild Type and Mutant of Lyst and Casien Kinase II Proteins,” and “The Effects of Common Herbicide and Fertilizer on Earthworm Burrowing Behavior.”

The 2013 Pathways to Scholarship festival was held this spring in the University Center. Although the formal Pathways to Scholarship project has concluded, its main components are continuing. This ongoing energy will bring more faculty and students into the dynamic scholarship process, building collaborative relationships fostering discovering and sharing of knowledge.