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Community Corner: UWPs high-impact practices
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On April 17, I had the opportunity to see 14 of our UW–Platteville students and their faculty advisors in the state Capitol in Madison.

Our students, along with more than 100 other UW System undergraduate students, presented their innovative research to state legislators, leaders and other dignitaries at the 10th annual UW System Posters in the Rotunda.

State Rep. Travis Tranel (R–Cuba City) and Sen. Dale Schultz (R–Richland Center) were among the first legislators to meet and talk with the student researchers.

Our students’ research covered a wide variety of topics. I was impressed by the complexity and comprehensiveness of the students’ research as well as their in-depth knowledge about the research topics and their ability to clearly articulate the research process. I was also impressed with the students’ communication and presentation skills while communicating with the leaders of our state.

Posters in the Rotunda is an example of a high impact practice that UW–Platteville provides its students. High impact practices are hands-on, experiential education and training opportunities, conducted both inside and outside the classroom, that prepare students to enter the workforce and pursue their careers. Our connections with the community, industry, government, non-profit agencies, UW System and the international community help us create outstanding engagement opportunities for our students.

This event was beneficial in two main ways. First, our students invested a large quantity of time in their projects and research, and being able to present at the Capitol further enriched their work. Second, it is very important for our state legislators to see what UW–Platteville’s educational experience is all about. They were able to see this, on a personal level, through the eyes of our students. It was exhilarating to see how enthusiastic the students were to present their research. It reminds us again that what we are doing at UW–Platteville is so important.

On April 11–13, 16 UW–Platteville students had the opportunity to present their research as part of the 27th annual National Conference on Undergraduate Research held at UW–La Crosse. At the conference, students met peers and faculty from throughout the country who were working in similar research fields, learned how different types of research are conducted, and explored graduate school and employment opportunities. This national conference, organized by the Council on Undergraduate Research based in Washington, D.C., is the largest symposium of its type in our country, bringing together 3,000 undergraduate students from all fields and disciplines.

On our own campus, we had the Pioneer Academic Center for Community Engagement poster day on April 24 and the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors presentations on April 29.

As part of a recent collaboration between UW–Platteville and Madison College biology programs, 10 of our students traveled to Madison College, one of the top biotechnology and biochemistry schools in the United States, for a workshop on stem cells. While there, students had the opportunity to work with cutting edge stem cell research technology and learn various techniques and methods for studying stem cells. Dr. Esther Ofulue, professor of biology at UW–Platteville, said that this experience gave students the opportunity to use high tech research equipment, make connections in the research industry, and get a sense of this field and doing state-of-the-art research.

To further provide our students and faculty with the opportunity to collaborate on undergraduate research, UW–Platteville recently created the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors. Here, students from all disciplines conduct research, under the mentorship of faculty and staff. Future plans include an online research journal, funding for undergraduate research, awards for student scholarships, a campus-wide symposium to see how the research process affects critical and reflective thinking, intrapersonal and interpersonal development, and much more.

There are many other examples of high impact practices at our university that are opportunities for our students to engage more fully in their education, such as our international and study abroad programs; living and learning communities in our residence halls; service learning projects on campus and in the community; our new entrepreneurship minor; our launch lab that connects students with people and resources so that they can bring their entrepreneurial ideas to the next stage; business and project idea competitions; intensive student advising; and first-year experience programs. There are also a myriad of opportunities for all students, regardless of major or minor, to be actively involved in theater, music, and art.

Conducting undergraduate research is a high impact practice that enables our students to develop critical and reflective thinking skills, interpersonal and intrapersonal skills, practical competence, and a sense of civic engagement and social responsibility that they need to succeed following graduation.

UW–Platteville remains committed to using innovative ways to prepare our students for the workforce and for life while also listening to the input of community leaders in business and industry to ensure that the content of our academic programming is meeting their needs.

Every day is a great day to be a Pioneer.

The Community Corner is a weekly column of opinion written by columnists UW–Platteville Chancellor Dennis Shields; Platteville School District Superintendent Connie Valenza; Chamber Director Kathy Kopp; Main Street Program Director Jack Luedtke; Common Council President Mike Dalecki, Platteville Recreation Coordinator Jordan Burress, State Rep. Travis Tranel, Platteville City Manager Larry Bierke and Police Chief Doug McKinley.