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Students as researchers: improving collaborative output in research Duncan Sharp, Pauline Fitzgerald Leeds Metropolitan University.

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Presentation on theme: "Students as researchers: improving collaborative output in research Duncan Sharp, Pauline Fitzgerald Leeds Metropolitan University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Students as researchers: improving collaborative output in research Duncan Sharp, Pauline Fitzgerald Leeds Metropolitan University

2 The Undergraduate Researcher Scheme: Voluntary scheme to encourage motivated and enthusiastic students to get involved in research Students collaborate to develop staff ideas, new projects, and to assist newly starting projects. Typically one session per week ~3-4 hours (or a 2 week block June/July depends upon availability)

3 URS: purpose Research engagement (staff and student) Increased awareness of research Enhanced research capacity Developing employability skills outside the curriculum

4 Student Development Students can participate in research, gain experience and individual mentoring Improve lab skills, problem solving, communication and teamwork (e.g. through collaborations with students and staff) Gain recognition, responsibility and potential for research output.

5 Skills Output Experience Output Experience Output Level 4 Level 5 (protocol) Level 6 (project*) MSc (project*) PhD studentships Postdoctoral Researchers Level 6 Int-MSc Output Experience MSc (project*) SUPERVISION Skills Experience Undergraduate Researcher Scheme

6 Skills Output Experience Output Experience Output Level 4 Level 5 (protocol) Level 6 (project*) MSc (project*) PhD studentships Postdoctoral Researchers Level 6 Int-MSc Output Experience MSc (project*) SUPERVISION Skills Experience Undergraduate Researcher Scheme

7 The (dream) model: Improved L5 skills / understanding of research Improved L6 project and primary data generated Support and experience for L7 students More research output for L5 – L7 data More output, more publicity, more FUNDING! (More) Ph.D students(more) Postdocs More sustainable system with inter- level supervision

8 The (dream) model: Improved L5 skills / understanding of research Improved L6 project and primary data generated Support and experience for L7 students More research output for L5 – L7 data More output, more publicity, more FUNDING! (More) Ph.D students(more) Postdocs More sustainable system with inter- level supervision

9 Projects supported All biomed staff encouraged to be PI for 1 project - ideally groups of 2-4 students working on a related area/topic Must be different to L6 project topic for that student! Ideally suited to small scale projects, little pressure on students, giving them the opportunity to develop and perform basic / preliminary experiments, e.g. New high-risk research feasibility testing pilot testing

10 The process Academic designs project Novelty, scope and innovation Check for scope, finances and feasibility Fit within theme / school and future focus of research Call announced to students Rationale, commitment and options explained Student applications Future plans Why chosen topic, and why it would be beneficial Availability for project Decisions made Academic performance (2.2 min.), enthusiasm and reasons for choosing scheme / project Projects commence

11 The process Academic designs project Novelty, scope and innovation Check for scope, finances and feasibility Fit within theme / school and future focus of research Call announced to students Rationale, commitment and options explained Student applications Future plans Why chosen topic, and why it would be beneficial Availability for project Decisions made Academic performance (2.2 min.), enthusiasm and reasons for choosing scheme / project Projects commence

12 Pros/ cons: Academic staff: pros Benefits to staff: Help to establish independent research profile Feasibility testing of projects in low-risk environment Provides enthusiastic undergraduates with improved prospects, employability skills and development on independent research areas

13 Pros/cons: Academic staff: cons Problems to staff Time commitment- expected to reduce throughout duration once trained & more MSc/PhDs Projects need to be carefully developed to produce useable / reliable data with minimal resources

14 Pros / Cons: Undergrad students : pros Benefits to student: New skills and experience of research Good for CV – especially if considering MSc / MRES / PhD Possibility of contributing towards a journal publication or conference presentation Increased L6 project quality

15 Pros / Cons: Undergrad students: cons Problems to students Extra voluntary time at University 3-4 hours per week for ~10-14 weeks (approx. 30 – 56 hrs) or in a 2 week block

16 Pros/Cons Postgraduate students Benefits to PG students: Gain helpers with the “routine” work of a project Gain experience of supervising / running smaller research projects within own ‘project’. Problems to PG students Takes time to train and supervise UG students

17 Pros/Cons ‘University’ Benefits to University: Increased research output – directly and through improved projects Increased likelihood of research funding – by having more better quality pilot data directly from undergraduate and MSc student projects. Problems to University Initial staffing time to implement (minimal) financial budget requirements for laboratory experiments / reagents etc.

18 Exemplar projects Electrochemical release of silver ions for controlled antimicrobial release Antimicrobial effects of herbs and spices Emerging ELISA-based technologies – assays for blood speciation Development of new assays to assess cytotoxicity, cellular differentiation and antioxidant defences in cultured human cell lines

19 Dissemination 1. HEA Workshop and Seminar Series. Fitzgerald and Sharp, 2 nd April :00 – 16:00 Work related learning without placements- an alternative way of providing employability skills The workshop will provide an opportunity to discuss different ways in which employability skills can be included within a course without relying on work placements. The workshop will cover 3 themes: embedding employability within modules, using students as researchers to gain authentic research skills, and students as volunteers 2. HEA STEM CONFERENCE 2014, Fitzgerald and Sharp.Edinburgh 30 th April-1 st May Students as researchers: improving collaborative output in research

20 Thank you for listening!


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