So, being at a teaching-oriented institution like I am, with no graduate program and nothing but little tiny research grants, I decided to see if I could get a research team of sorts going via independent study. So I have five undergrads working on two different projects for me this term (plus another who’s doing her own thing). So far, since the quarter got off to a very sluggish start due to circumstances largely outside my control (like the weather), nothing much has happened. I’m worried that with only 7 weeks left in the term, nothing much is going to happen, and I’m going to have to assign grades to these folks based on a tiny amount of work, and they’re going to get 4 credits for doing basically nothing.

I’ve never supervised students before, so I haven’t had to deal with the delicate balance between checking in on them and nagging. This quarter, I’m only coming in two days a week most weeks, and there isn’t a lot of time during the day for me to connect with them. I suppose I’m going to have to start scheduling a half an hour or so to talk with each of them and make sure they’re getting stuff done. And that they’re learning, ’cause the point is not just to make them research slaves, but to help them practice and enhance their GIS skills.

It’s just so hard to get engaged on a project when the odds are good that I’m leaving when the year is up. I want to be at a more research-focused university (though not exclusively research-focused), and my husband has a number of issues with his current institution as well. So I’m being hesitant about community-based learning projects (though I am doing one with my class this term; more on that in another post), or applying for mini-grants for next year, or networking with other people on campus, because it takes a lot of time and (for me) emotional effort to do that. And if I’m not going to reap the benefits, or if I’m not going to be here to hold up my end of the bargain, then why start in the first place?

So that’s one advantage of the independent study, is that it’s over in a quarter. It’s a project that’s basically repeating the same process in a couple of dozen different locations, so it can be expanded or contracted quite easily. I just hope I don’t forget that since I got a course release from the college for this quarter, I have to do some of the research, too…

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