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Volume 9
2014

Foreword

This issue of The Engaged Scholar Magazine looks at student engagement.

Effective citizenship—defined as seeing oneself as a member of local, national, and global communities and having the capacity to lead in an increasingly interdependent world—is one of five core goals for undergraduate learning at MSU.1 Some have argued that participatory democracy itself may depend on ensuring that our college graduates take on the responsibilities of being active citizens and community members.

In tandem with this goal, the university also has a long-standing commitment to collaborative teaching and learning. There is a growing body of evidence that validates the effectiveness of this approach.

For example, in an article that appeared in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, published by the Ecological Society of America, a team of researchers from institutions across the country, including MSU, outlined why it's important to pursue science collaboratively. Lead author Kendra Cheruvelil, associate professor with MSU's Lyman Briggs College and Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, said equally important to team members' scientific knowledge is whether they can communicate well, are socially sensitive, and are emotionally engaged with each other.2 "Better science gets done when people put their egos aside, when they like each other, when they come from a wide range of backgrounds, and when they know how to effectively talk to each other," she said. "Based on the studies that we compiled, these factors are quite critical to the success of many types of teams."

These factors are among the skills and competencies that students are expected to acquire through service-learning placements, study-abroad experiences, capstone projects, and other forms of active learning.

The other half of the equation is the benefit to the community organizations and agencies that sponsor these learning experiences. The partners highlighted in this issue said it many times over: "I think [our] project's success was due in no small part to the project management abilities of the student leaders," said one. Another acknowledged that "we benefit tremendously from the creative talents of the students in this collaboration." Still another expressed appreciation for the mutual benefits of the collaboration, saying "The students give us a fresh perspective. What they learn from us is how to take it to market."

Look inside this issue to see how MSU graduate and undergraduate students are applying their classwork to projects in the field, and learn about resources their faculty mentors can use to support this work.

Sources

  1. See learninggoals.undergrad.msu.edu/goals.Return to text
  2. See msutoday.msu.edu/news/2014/research-its-more-than-just-the-science for news release, or esajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1890/130001 for full text of article by Cheruvelil et al.Return to text
  • Written by Linda Chapel Jackson, Editor, University Outreach and Engagement