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Summer Scholars experience hands-on approach to learning

Miami student Amy Anderson, of Lexington, Ky., is spending her summer immersed in an in-depth study that compares the Harry Potter books to another well-known children’s fantasy series, The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis.

The 20-year-old English literature major is interviewing teachers, children and even ministers in an attempt to learn how different audiences are receiving the two series. She’s also studying how the two British authors depict such factors as good and evil, witchcraft, gender and age.

Jess Henrickson, of Glendale, Wis., is interviewing secretaries and their supervisors to investigate how social interactions in a workplace affect secretaries’ attitudes. "Secretaries and administrative assistants are central to just about any organization, but despite their importance their roles are often overlooked," he says.

Sarah Wiedeke, of Springfield, is observing and testing pre-school youngsters’ understanding of pretending.

In the process all three students are earning 12 credits at no cost to them, receiving a $2,200 stipend and working one-on-one with a faculty mentor.

The trio is among 100 students taking advantage of Miami’s Undergraduate Summer Scholar (USS) program. The program, in its fifth year, aims to heighten the intellectual challenge for students as well as link scholarship and teaching.

The hands-on approach to learning gets rave reviews from faculty members as well as student participants.

"This work gives students a unified sense of what their discipline is like and what it means to be the creator of knowledge and not just a consumer of textbook knowledge," said Cecilia Shore (psychology), Wiedeke’s mentor.

Jeff Thompson (management), who is serving as Henrickson’s mentor, and Mary Fuller (English), Anderson’s mentor, agree that USS provides students and faculty members opportunities seldom available in a classroom setting.

Psychology major Wiedeke says the summer project not only will assist her when it comes to getting into graduate school but will give her lasting insights into how young children think, which will prepare her for a career of helping youngsters.

Other universities have studied Miami’s program with an eye to adopting similar programs, said Joe Urell, associate provost. While such programs occur in small private colleges, they are uncommon in larger public universities.

Date Published: 07/27/2000
Volume: 20   Number: 2

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