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A Conversation With Wilbert J. McKeachie: Involving Undergraduate Students in Research
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by Richard L. Miller and Mark E. Ware - University of Nebraska at Kearney (Miller); Creighton University (Ware)
Category: Editorials & Invited Articles
Wilbert J. McKeachie is this country's foremost teacher of teachers. His book Teaching Tips (McKeachie, 1999), now in its 10th edition, has become the standard reference work for new college teachers. Bill was born in Clarkston, Michigan, in 1921. He began his college education at Michigan State Normal College with the intention of becoming a high school teacher.
After service as a radio communications officer in the U. S. Navy, Bill entered the graduate program in psychology at the University of Michigan, where he received a PhD in 1949. His association with the Psychology Department at the University of Michigan has continued to this day. Initially, he coordinated the introductory course and began to examine factors that influence learning among college students. For 10 years he served as chair of the department. He has also served as director of the University's Center for Research on Learning and Teaching.
Bill has been active in the American Psychological Association throughout his career, serving as president in 1976-77. His considerable contributions to psychology have earned him numerous awards, including the American Psychological Foundation's Distinguished Teaching in Psychology Award and the American Psychological Association's award for Distinguished Career Contributions to Education and Training in Psychology.
In early October 1998 Bill delivered the Clifford L. Fawl Lectures in Psychology at Nebraska Wesleyan University. During his visit to Nebraska Wesleyan, Bill graciously consented to the following interview with the managing editor (Mark E. Ware) and Special Features editor (Richard L. Miller) of the Journal of Psychological Inquiry. Also participating in the interview were Clifford L. Fawl and Mary Beth Ahlum, faculty members at Nebraska Wesleyan University.
Miller: Before we begin, I thought that perhaps a little background on the purpose of this interview might be helpful. The Journal of Psychological Inquiry publishes undergraduate student research. In addition, there is a Special Features section that serves a variety of purposes. It is a forum for student essays on topical issues and also features, from time to time, articles that provide information of interest to both faculty and students related to the research process. We have asked you for this interview in order to explore your thoughts on the role of undergraduate research in teaching.
Ware: This interview is designed primarily for the audience of students and, secondarily, for faculty, with particular emphasis on the scholarly component of teaching and learning and how that relates to students conducting research and subsequently presenting and publishing the results of that research. To provide a bit of background, the journal grew out of discussions among a group of several of us from Nebraska, Kansas, and the Great Plains area who have been involved with students presenting papers at student conventions. At some point, we began to ask ourselves, "And then what?" The "And then what?" implied taking the manuscript to the next step--following the model of a professional psychologist, you would publish it. And although we don't restrict publication to students who have previously presented their papers at conferences, we had originally envisioned the journal as another step in the evolution of increasing the quality of the work students had done. So, that's the context in which we wanted to talk with you.
Miller: To begin, I would like you to think back a bit to when you were a student. What motivated you to get involved in scholarship and research?
McKeachie: Well, I suppose my involvement in research began during...