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High School Students Invited to Join WC Peers in Presenting at WC’s Research Showcase


12th Annual Forum Set for May 4

Wilmington College's study day on May 4 will provide an opportunity for many students to share some of their academic accomplishments at the 12th annual Student/Faculty Research Showcase. The event is open for public viewing from 10 a.m. to noon in Hermann Court's Fred Raizk Arena.

PICTURED: In last year's Research Showcase, A trio of students incorporated The Great American Pastime — baseball — into their business administration research. From the left, Trip Breen, swimming coach and director of aquatics, hears a presentation by Ben Hidy, Joel O’Brien and Jesse Reliford about the decreased weight of Major League baseballs and the cracking down on pitchers using pine tar and other substances that enhance their grip on the ball. Their statistical analysis of 30 batters and 30 pitchers since 2019 indicates both a reduction in the number of home runs hit and an increase in pitchers’ earned run average.

Students and, in many cases, their faculty co-researcher/adviser will be on hand to discuss their poster presentations. The showcase annually celebrates the research accomplishments of WC students and faculty across all academic disciplines — with a special twist this year. Indeed, high school students will have an opportunity to join their Wilmington College peers in presenting their research.

Dr. Audrey Wagstaff, professor of social science and communication arts, noted that, while some colleges are shifting from requiring research, WC maintains its value in the curriculum. The College believes research continues to be an irreplaceable educational experience that fosters the building of many essential soft skills: critical thinking, polished oral and written communication skills, collaboration and professionalism.

Wagstaff cited the "exponential growth in popularity" of the College Board’s Advanced Placement Research program, which is being offered at a growing number of high schools in the United States and abroad.

It allows high school students to take two courses: AP Seminar and AP Research, the latter of which requires students to conduct a year-long research project. They then submit their papers to the College Board for scoring by trained readers across the country. If they earn a “3” or better (measured on a 1-5 scale) on the paper (weighted at 75%), and the required presentation and oral defense (weighted at 25%), they earn the AP Research Certificate.

Wagstaff and two of her faculty colleagues, Dr. Angela Mitchell, professor of business administration, and Dr. Russell Kincaid, professor of mathematics, are specially trained AP Research readers.

"During a week each June, we read many papers, often for about eight hours per day," she said. "It is an exhausting and yet very fulfilling task as many of these student papers are quite impressive! Reading has also given me much to think about as I teach the research course sequence for all social science majors and minors."

Wagstaff has witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of papers the WC trio has read in the past few years "Thus, Russ, Angela and I thought it would be great to accept the AP Research Certificate for course credit here at WC as we accept other AP credits." WC also will be accepting the AP Capstone Diploma, which can be earned by students who obtain the AP Research Certificate and score a “3” or better on four additional AP exams in various subjects, for additional credit.

"It may sound strange, but there is a buzz about research, and we want to share that with our own campus community while also opening it to high school students who are already doing it," she added.

Wagstaff said that research – and how to conduct it systematically, empirically and ethically – is an important skill sought by employers.

"We remain committed to requiring students to get their hands on research as much as possible during their time here," she said, adding that she has collaborated with many WC students on research projects leading to state/regional/national conference presentations, publications and even awards.

"This experience poises them to be more appealing to employers and better prepared for a lifetime of service and success."