Prof. Verna Delauer works with undergraduate students at Franklin Pierce University

Franklin Pierce University, a residential college campus in the northeastern U.S. Verna Delauer works with undergraduate students in a inquiry-practice lab. 

Together they have been researching emerging autonomy and independence in health decision-making of students on campus. 

Verna writes: “Can we be playful together? Can we make meaning together? How does my position as a faculty member help or hinder this?

Our goals are to have a flexible open process yet this often feels slightly confusing and out of control.

I want students to be integral to all aspects of the research from formulating research questions to collecting data, analyzing data, and disseminating data.

I want to create a learning experience for them but at the same time create a learning community that I can be a part of, not necessarily in charge of. With undergraduates this is tricky, particularly for those at my university many of whom are the first in their families to attend college.

I’m still figuring out how much guidance and facilitation to offer and how much letting go and sharing the reins I must practice.

A goal is for the undergraduate lab to function as an ongoing discussion, a place where meaning is built. This has been challenging as I realize the students trust me implicitly which sometimes means they will accept whatever I say. Sometimes it means they will let their own voices emerge.

What’s most rewarding is that the work of the lab has become personal work for all involved; We continue to reflect on how to bring both our internal selves and our knowledge into our small community.”

To be continued. We’ll check back with Prof. Delauer on her ART experiment…best wishes for now.