FRI Advice for Institutions
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., freshman fall research methods course, freshman spring research stream – part one, sophomore fall research stream – part two)? If not, what will it be?
If freshmen 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?
How will students be admitted 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?