GEMS100 (1 credit) - Freshman Honors Colloquium: Introduction to Gemstone
This one-credit course, taught by upper-class student section leaders in the fall semester of the first year, orients new students to the Gemstone Program as well as to the University of Maryland. GEMS100 is instructed in a small group format with the following units encompassing the heart of the course:
- Introduction to Gemstone - Learning about many of the facets of the Gemstone Program is a theme present throughout the course. Section Leaders devote one class early in the semester to discussions of the responsibilities of Gemstone students. This class also includes a visit by a Gemstone staff member. A follow-up class includes a mock topic selection process designed to introduce the students to the processes used in GEMS102, the next course taken in the GEMS sequence, where they will choose the research topic on which they will work for three years. Additionally, attendance at Gemstone Colloquia provides new students a perspective on what Gemstone teams actually do.
- Liberal Education - In this unit, students discuss the personal and social value of a liberal education and the ways that liberal education is linked to the Gemstone Program and its research teams.
- Current Events - Current events play an important role in the topic selection process. This unit encourages student awareness of current events and utilizes that awareness to generate possible topic ideas.
- Service and Learning - Various forms of community service surface in several Gemstone research projects. This experiential unit requires students to participate in a service project in which they contribute at least four hours of time during the semester.
- Diversity - The richness of the diversity at the University of Maryland enables students to learn about and appreciate differences, yet some students fail to take advantage of the opportunities for cross-cultural learning that the University and the metropolitan area offer. The goal of this class session is to encourage students to engage in a cultural activity that is new to them. A discussion of how diversity relates to the team process also takes place.
- The Arts - This experiential unit will focus on the importance of the arts in society and the relationship between the arts and technology.
- Academic Planning/Academic Integrity - The Gemstone Program requires students to complete a set curriculum, which requires significant academic planning in order to fit GEMS courses with other University requirements. This unit assists students in creating their four-year academic plan. One area where academic integrity and university expectations often become unclear is group work, which necessitates a discussion of academic integrity as it relates to Gemstone research teams.
- Teambuilding - To prepare students for teamwork, GEMS100 includes a discussion of how individual personality types, work habits, and interests contribute to team dynamics.
GEMS102 (1 credit) - Research Topic Exploration
This is a one-credit course designed to help Gemstone freshmen generate and select research topics. The goal of the course is for students to form teams around topics of mutual interest and prepare to begin team research in their sophomore year. Research topic ideas are explored in small group discussions facilitated by upper-class Gemstone student section leaders, and ideas are generated, focused and discussed. The process is described below, but this format will change somewhat from year to year as the Gemstone Program attempts to optimize it.
- Step 1: Students will spend approximately the first third of the semester in small group discussions generating topic ideas.
- Step 2: Project sheets are due by mid-semester for all proposed topics in order to be considered in the first vote. After the submission deadline for the project sheets, new topics may not be added. The Gemstone staff reviews all project sheets for academic rigor and feasibility. Authors of project sheets that do not meet the criteria for acceptance will be given the opportunity to revise and resubmit.
- Step 3: All completed project sheets are used to make up the official list of topics. This list will be the basis for the first vote. Students will e-mail their assigned section leader with a vote on their top topic choices.
- Step 4: Students who have proposed topics that were selected in the first vote will make short presentations in small groups during the next two weeks in order to interest other students in their ideas. This format allows all students to hear about all the ideas that made the first vote cut.
- Step 5: Following these presentations, updated project sheets must be submitted that include information received by the students after vetting their project idea with a campus expert to check for feasibility. The second vote occurs approximately two-thirds of the way through the semester on all the topics for which updated project sheets were submitted.
- Step 6: Students will have a final opportunity for small group discussions on the narrowed lists of topics after the second vote. Before the final vote in class, approximately three weeks before the semester ends, there will be one more Q&A on the last group of topics. At the end of this class, students will cast their final vote on index cards for their ranked top three choices of team topics.
- Step 7: The Gemstone Program staff, together with the section leaders, assign students to teams.
- Step 8: Students meet in their new teams during the last two or three weeks of the semester to start the team development process. A section leader facilitates these meetings.
GEMS104 *(3 credits, CORE IE) -Topics in Science, Technology and Society.
*Also 3 I-series credits under the new general education requirements.
This course is designed and oriented around special themes for the Gemstone Program, such as:
- "Technology and the City in History"
- "Transportation and Society in the 19th and 20th Century"
- "Technology and the Environment"
- "Ethics in Science, Technology and Medicine"
- "Carbon: Its benefits and the problems it causes"
The theme may and likely will vary from year to year. The format of the course is somewhat unusual: each week begins with a lecture, which is followed during the week by two discussion sessions. These two sessions have distinct functions: the first one focuses on the lecture and associated readings; the second one focuses on the course's intensive group research assignment. The group research topics are specific aspects of the theme chosen for the course for that semester and give Gemstone freshmen a one-semester research project similar to what they will experience in their Gemstone teams beginning in the sophomore year.
GEMS202 *(2 Credits) - Team Dynamics and Research Methodology
*For students under the new general education requirements, GEMS202 and GEMS296 together satisfy 3 Distributive Studies credits in the Scholarship in Practice category.
Syllabus for Fall 2011
This experiential course is designed to foster an understanding of the dynamics of group behavior and basic research methodology. It teaches skills applicable to Gemstone team research and the writing of a team thesis. Upper-class students serve as section leaders, acting as peer mentors to the new teams and serving as an additional resource for them. The objectives of the course are to:
- Learn about the research process including: identifying a research problem and developing a justification for your team's study; formulating a research question; gathering data to answer the research question; choosing quantitative or qualitative methodologies and methods; employing data analysis techniques; and understanding the Institutional Review Board's (IRB) submission procedures.
- Learn more about your team's research problem by conducting a thorough literature review and identify ways for your team to create new knowledge on your topic.
- Explore possibilities of grant funding, writing for publication, and attending an academic conference related to your team's topic.
- Become familiar with the Graduate School's formatting requirements for research documents, as well as the appropriate research style for your field.
- Gain experience collaborating as a team on written projects and develop a draft of your team's research proposal to be submitted and presented to your committee in the spring semester.
- Develop a set of team norms, which will guide all operations and decisions of your team. Learn methods for team organization and how to be a productive team member.
GEMS296 *(1 credit), GEMS 297, 396, 397, 496, 497 (2 credits each) - Team Project Seminars.
The format of these courses is the weekly meeting between the team and its mentor in which the team's research topic is focused, the research question is formulated, the literature is reviewed, the progress of the research is discussed, the synthesis of the various elements of the research is implemented and the final draft of the thesis is completed and defended.