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FAQs: URCA Assistant

What is the URCA Assistant program?
What are the benefits for faculty?
What are the benefits for students?
How will the award be dispersed?
Can a student earn course credit for participating?
Which faculty can apply?
Can a faculty member apply if he or she is going to be on sabbatical?
Which students can apply?
What are faculty responsibilities?
What are student responsibilities?
What if the faculty doesn't meet his or her responsibilities?
What if the student doesn't meet his or her responsibilities?
Can a faculty member apply for more than one student?
Can a faculty member apply for multiple semesters?
How will students be selected?
Will there be URCA Assistant positions during the summer?
Can faculty members apply for an URCA Assistant if they are already receiving alternate funding for their projects?
What else should I know about the URCA Program?

Q. What is the URCA Assistant program?

A. This program is designed to get more undergraduate students involved in research and creative activities by offering a central clearinghouse for research and creative activity experiences available to undergraduate students. In addition, URCA will fund up to 80 positions per semester that will include an award of $1000 for that semester's work. All positions also have the option of offering course credit for participation. Positions can be both awarded monetarily and for course credit.

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Q. What are the benefits for faculty?

A. Faculty will be able to get the word out about their research and creative activity programs and recruit undergraduate students to these opportunities in a more comprehensive way. In addition, the student application process will allow faculty to select the best applicants to collaborate with them on their research and creative activities. Finally, mentoring undergraduates outside of the classroom is an experience that benefits faculty in tenure and promotion papers and annual reviews.

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Q. What are the benefits for students?

A. Students will have a central location in which to search for research and creative activity positions and the opportunity to get involved in collaborative work with their faculty. These experiences will benefit them as they apply to graduate schools or positions of employment, and will hopefully also create a more meaningful undergraduate experience for them. Students who participate may be allowed to enroll in an appropriate number of hours of course credit for their participation (this is up to the individual faculty member posting the position pending program approval) and up to 80 students per semester will receive an award of $1000 for their work.

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Q. How will the award be dispersed?

A. Students in awarded positions will have $1000 deposited in their Bursar's office account toward the middle of the semester. If a student carries a balance of greater than $1000 with the Bursar's office at that time, the award will go to reduce that amount. Students with a balance of less than $1000 will be given a check for the remainder of the amount. The award is dispersed at this time so as to minimize any possible interference with the student's financial aid for the following semester. However, students are still required to successfully complete their URCA Assistant position, and should a student not meet URCA requirements after the award has been dispersed, the university will revoke the award. Although every attempt has been made to design the award so that it will not interfere with student aid, each student's financial situation is different and it is simply impossible for us to guarantee that this award will not affect the student's financial aid. If a student is concerned, he or she should check with the financial aid department.

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Q. Can a student earn course credit for participating?

A. Yes, as long as the faculty mentor's department supports this and has a mechanism in place for it. The responsibility of informing the students about registering in the appropriate course for the department and assigning an appropriate grade will fall to the faculty mentor. Students earning credit should earn it at the rate of 1 hour of course credit for every 3 hours of URCA-related work per week. If the URCA activity is counted for course credit, the student must pay for those credit hours. There is no tuition waiver as a part of the URCA program!

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Q. Which faculty can apply?

A. Only full-time, tenured or tenure-track faculty members working in academic units can apply.

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Q. Can a faculty member apply if he or she is going to be on sabbatical?

A. Yes, as long as the faculty member will still be available to adequately mentor the student for the duration of the semester. The URCA program recommends a weekly face-to-face meeting between Assistants and mentors.

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Q. Which students can apply?

A. Any full-time (minimum of 12 credit hours) SIUE undergraduate student with a cumulative GPA of 2.3 or above can apply.

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Q. What are faculty responsibilities?

A. The faculty application includes sections on student responsibilities and appropriate outcome goals (i.e., students shouldn't spend this devoted research/creative activity time making photocopies or grading tests). The URCA board will review each faculty application to make sure an appropriate research/creative activity experience will be gained by the student. Once approved, faculty are responsible for ensuring that the actual experience matches the proposed experience. In addition, faculty members taking URCA Assistants for the first time will be required to attend a brief meeting at the beginning of the semester to ensure they understand what entails an appropriate research experience for the students.

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Q. What are student responsibilities?

A. This will vary by position, but each position should require a minimum of 6 hours (9 hours is the typical load) of appropriate research/creative activity work by the student per week. Students are responsible for meeting the goals set forth by the instructor at the beginning of the semester.

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Q. What if the faculty doesn't meet his or her responsibilities?

A. The URCA Coordinator will briefly check in with all Assistants and their mentors at the semester's mid-point. If it becomes apparent that the student is not receiving an appropriate experience, the position will be pulled. Faculty who have had positions pulled will be ineligible to reapply for URCA Assistant positions (paid or unpaid) for three years.

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Q. What if the student doesn't meet his or her responsibilities?

A. The URCA Coordinator will briefly check in with all Assistants and their mentors at the semester's mid-point. If it becomes apparent that the student is not performing his or her duties appropriately, the position will be pulled. If it is a paid position, the student will not receive the financial award. If the student is receiving course credit, an appropriate grade will be assigned at the end of the semester. Students who have had positions pulled will be ineligible to reapply for future URCA Assistant positions.

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Q. Can a faculty member apply for more than one student?

A. Yes! Faculty can apply for as many students as they can appropriately mentor on their project. However, since there is a limited number of monetary awards (80 per semester), each approved faculty member will likely only receive one funded position. In the case of a faculty member mentoring multiple students, the faculty member will choose which student receives the award. (Although ALL students can receive course credit if the faculty member is giving it - there are no limits on that.) The awardee will be chosen at the discretion of the faculty member: he or she could be randomly selected, the award could be given to the strongest applicant, or the mentor could give the award based on knowledge of a student's financial need. The award cannot be split or shared among students.

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Q. Can a faculty member apply for multiple semesters?

A. Yes, although a new application must be submitted each semester.

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Q. How will students be selected?

A. All interested students must submit their applications by the appropriate deadline (usually late summer if applying for the fall semester and late fall if applying for the spring semester). Applications will be routed directly to the e-mail address provided by the faculty member on the application. Faculty members will fill their approved positions based on the student applications by the means of their choice - they could simply select students based off their applications, they could require interviews, etc. This part of the process is up to the faculty member. All positions must be filled by the first day of class of the semester. It is the responsibility of the faculty to notify ALL applications (those accepted and those not) of their status by the first day of class of the semester.

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Q. Will there be URCA Assistant positions during the summer?

A. No, URCA Assistant positions are only available during the fall and spring semesters.

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Q. Can faculty members apply for an URCA Assistant if they are already receiving alternate funding for their projects?

A. Yes, but ONLY if the funding does not already pay undergraduate student researchers. For example, if your project has already been awarded grant money for supplies and a graduate assistant, then you could also apply for URCA Assistant funding. But if you are already receiving money from an alternate source to pay for your undergraduate researchers, then you cannot apply for URCA funding.

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Q. What else should I know about the URCA Program?

A. Participation in the URCA Program as an Associate, Assistant, or Mentor is a privilege for both students and faculty. If a participant in the URCA Program is not meeting expectations in any area, either within or outside of the URCA Program (i.e. related or unrelated coursework, communication, institutional responsibilities and values, university activities, etc.), the individual's participation in the URCA Program may be affected.

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For more information on the Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities Program,
contact Dr. Laura Pawlow at (618) 650-2608 or lpawlow@siue.edu.

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