Marshall University’s Community of Research Practice (CORP) formed in the Fall 2008 academic semester. CORP’s initial purpose was to offer support and encouragement to faculty members engaged in research. CORP meetings were held early on Friday mornings, a fact which, amazingly enough, was not limiting for the group! During its first semester, CORP had a total of 10 members, including five faculty members actively engaged in research, two thesis students, one graduate assistant attending with her faculty advisor, and two undergraduates enrolled in independent study. CORP’s Friday morning meetings were set up in a way that allowed the group members to share their research for approximately thirty minutes and also left time for a CORP member to lead a discussion on a topic of interest to researchers (e.g., time management, IRB training). The regular addition of unhealthy breakfast items and caffeine in various forms helped to boost the discussion and stimulate research ideas.
In the spring 2009 semester, two new members officially joined CORP. During that same semester, the meeting format evolved. Other researchers across campus were invited to share their research experience with us, served as an audience for the thesis students as they practiced their defenses, and collaborated on developing presentations for state and national meetings.
Also in the Spring 2009 semester, CORP members realized the ways in which the group was changing them, as teachers, as students, and as researchers. Consequently, the group decided to qualitatively “study itself.” This research project evolved into two studies; one focused on students and one focused on faculty. Our aim was to better understand the lives and experiences of the individuals belonging to CORP. Faculty members collected oral histories from student members who, in turn, collected oral histories from faculty members. A collaborative effort between faculty members provided preliminary findings which were presented at the 2009 West Virginia Speech and Hearing Association (WVSHA) Convention in Huntington, WV. The full study was presented at the 2009 American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) Convention in New Orleans, along with eight other poster or panel and platform presentations by CORP members.
One year later, in the Fall 2009 semester, a flood of enthusiastic undergraduates and two faculty members brought the groups’ membership to 21, making CORP double in size. Now, in its fourth semester, the group continues to see a steady influx of new students and faculty. Current topics under study include: the iconicity of symbols for Augmentative and Alternative Communication systems, hearing conservation programs in children, adult literacy, the aging voice, treatment of aphasia, and alumni perspectives on graduate study in Communication Disorders.