Setting up a FRI program in STEM will require at least a year of planning before implementation. Because each institution is somewhat different, we offer these questions for consideration as an outline of what should be worked out.
- What are the base-line statistics that the institution wants to address (e.g., rates of DFW grades in STEM courses, six-year graduation rate of STEM degrees, graduation rate of "at-risk" students intending to major in STEM)?
- What STEM academic units will be involved in the program?
- What are the criteria for establishing a research stream?
- What administrative offices will support the FRI, and how so?
- How will sustainability be built into the program (e.g., salaries for research educators to run the FRI labs, research-grade lab supplies for research streams)?
- Who (or what group) is charged with developing the implementation plan and the long-term strategic plan?
- How will faculty be recruited to participate in the FRI program?
- How will faculty be incentivized and supported?
- If faculty teams design the research streams, who will lead each research team?
- How will students earn course credit toward a STEM degree?
- How will students be graded in those courses?
- Can students fulfill "general education" requirements with FRI courses?
- Will the three-semester model be adopted (i.e., first-year fall research methods course, first-year spring research stream – part one, sophomore fall research stream – part two)? If not, what will it be?
- If first-year students begin with a generic research methods course, who will design that? Who will teach that?
- If new courses are needed, what approvals are required?
- Will there be extra fees, such as special laboratory fees to cover cost of research-grade lab supplies?
- Where will the FRI labs be housed? Will laboratory space be dedicated to the FRI program?
- Is lab renovation necessary?
- Can some research streams share laboratory space?
- Is research-grade laboratory equipment available? Can more laboratory equipment be obtained?
- What are the admission criteria of the FRI?
- How will students be recruited to the program, and who will be responsible for that?
- What are the program goals in terms of diversity? What are the percentages of students desired from different groups (e.g., "at risk" versus open-enrollment)?
- Is there a policy requiring (and defining) satisfactory progress in the program?
- Who will oversee the FRI program? Where will the FRI office be located? Will additional staff be needed?
- How will the research educators (i.e., those responsible for day-to-day work in research streams, such as postdoctoral associates or research assistant professors) be vetted?
- What percentage of the research educator's time will be devoted to administrative tasks of FRI (e.g., recruitment, admission, assessment)?
- What will be the training and supervision of research educators, and who is responsible for that?
- What will be the recruitment process, training and supervision of graduate teaching assistants, and who is responsible for that?
- What will be the recruitment process, training and supervision of undergraduate peer mentors, and who is responsible for that?
- Who is responsible for overseeing the FRI budget? Who is responsible for oversight of that person (and the budget)?
- If the FRI program seeks external funding, who is responsible for overseeing that?
- Has a baseline analysis of key variables been done?
- What are the plans for formative assessment of the students, the research streams, the research educators and the FRI program?
- What are the quantitative variables that you want to measure, and who will be responsible for that?
- What are the qualitative elements that you want to capture, and who will be responsible for that?
- What are the plans for summative assessment of the students, the research streams, the research educators and the FRI program?
- Will the FRI program have a steering committee (typically a group of people involved in the program)? If so, how will the committee members be appointed and what are the committee's responsibilities?
- Will an internal/external advisory committee (typically a group of people not directly involved in the program) be appointed? If so, what is the committee's charge and who will appoint the committee members?
- How often must the committee meet?
- Who is responsible for obtaining IRB approvals?
- Who is responsible for the web architecture? Who is responsible for maintaining and freshening the web architecture?
- Who is responsible for maintaining up-to-date information on the research stream web pages?
- Who is responsible for communication with the institution's "public relations" office?
- Who is responsible for developing brochures and posters about the program?