[The Oswego students and their posters]
This past Tuesday I attended "SUNY Undergraduates Shaping New York's Future: A Showcase of Scholarly Posters at the Capitol". The program for the conference demonstrates the great variety of work presented but does not capture the sense of engagement with learning that filled the halls.
We had 178 students with over a hundred posters from 34 of the 65 SUNY institutions. The colleges included every sector of SUNY: community colleges, comprehensive colleges and the university centers.
In that mix, every student I talked to was eager to tell me about their project and articulate in answering my probing questions about their sources and methodology. Students also remarked on the fact that professors from other colleges were coming around and discussing the various work as fellow researchers and not just teachers and graders. And students with similar research interests were connecting and talking about their research.
Since this was the State Capitol after all (and there is a reason we picked that venue), state senators and assembly members came through and talked with the students, showing interest in the posters. Yes, showing great stuff to our funders was part of what this was about, but the primary purpose from the start was to impress on our students that their schoolwork is not an end in itself, and that presenting and publishing what they learn completes and continues a very important cycle.