SFU's Mission: Research
Research theme-team leader Wade Parkhouse is unequivocal about his group’s approach to both the academic plan and the accreditation self-study.
“We have two objectives,” says the graduate studies dean, whose teammates include associate VP-research Norbert Haunerland, sociology/anthropology and gerontology professor, Barbara Mitchell, and entomology associate professor and animal care committee chair, Carl Lowenberger.
“One is to assess the university’s research enterprise and our successes, goals and aspirations within the mandate of the strategic research plan. The other is to look at the role of graduate students in the research enterprise and also our efforts in promoting research in our undergraduate curriculum.”
The primary research goal of the academic plan is to support SFU’s 2010-2015 strategic research plan “which is why our academic plan themes are taken directly from it,” says Parkhouse.
His team’s immediate priority for the accreditation process is to identify the overarching research-related goals and outcomes SFU wants to achieve and then determine whether or not the university is meeting them.
To do that, the group will sort through a vast array of indicators that have already been collected, extracting much of the information from the academic plan, the strategic research plan and the university planning framework.
From there, the team will select the indicators that are most appropriate for the accreditation document. “Not necessarily the ones that make us look good, but the ones that give us a broader picture of where we’re going and will help us decide our future directions,” says Parkhouse.
At the end of the process, Parkhouse says he would like to see a realistic assessment of where the university is and where it wants to be down the road in terms of “embedding more research into our undergraduate and graduate populations” and identifying potential barriers.
“The accreditation document is asking us to take a look at ourselves more critically and to make sure we have ways of assessing performance so we can go back and maybe look at things in ways we possibly haven’t done before,” says Parkhouse.
“Clearly, we are a research-intensive institution and we want to both identify and improve the quality and amount of the scholarly output of our researchers in whatever ways we can.
“But we also want to assess whether or not the institution is developing the policies and procedures for improving in all areas of scholarship related to our research and identify the issues that are preventing us from improving.”