The Hogsback Project
A Model for Multidisciplinary Integrated Research on the Block
At the University of Montana Western, we emphasize making experiential learning the focus of our institution. We feel that students profit from research experiences that connect courses across disciplines, especially in the general education curriculum. The Hogsback project was designed to
engage students in the cycle of research by investigating how individual worker behaviors of the western harvester ant, Pogonomrymex occidentalis, affect their environment. To facilitate implementation, professors incorporated the Hogsback research into existing course structures and projects. We established a student-run journal, called The Hogsback Journal, for research to be disseminated to involved participants. To date, 536 students, thirty-four classes and twelve professors have been involved in the research. Students have participated in a wide variety of fields
including soil science, statistics, mathematical modeling, ecology, biology, and geology. Paper submissions to The Hogsback Journal far exceeded expectations with fifty in fall 2021, fifty-nine in spring 2022, and fifty-six in fall 2022, becoming the hub through which research is disseminated. Based on the Hogsback project, we present a multidisciplinary approach to creating experiential course projects that we call HUB research that applies outside of STEM disciplines. We demonstrate how to implement a HUB research project using existing courses and structure of the block. Once established, a HUB research project serves as a central organizing feature for research that students can participate in to fulfill the educational goals of their courses. HUB architecture allows students to engage in successive courses giving them a more sophisticated understanding and perspective from different disciplines. Research is driven by an inquiry-based research cycle. As it evolves at block-accelerated speed, HUB research is a powerful engine for multidisciplinary research.
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