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Creation of a collegial network between researchers and undergraduate students at The University of Queensland. Dr Kirsten Farrand & Dr Paula Myatt The.

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Presentation on theme: "Creation of a collegial network between researchers and undergraduate students at The University of Queensland. Dr Kirsten Farrand & Dr Paula Myatt The."— Presentation transcript:

1 Creation of a collegial network between researchers and undergraduate students at The University of Queensland. Dr Kirsten Farrand & Dr Paula Myatt The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

2 UREs – bridging the gap… 1.How do we define the URE? 2.Why are the UREs pivotal? 3.USSER Network – an innovative model for welcoming undergraduate students to the research culture of their institution. 4.Future Plans Dr Paula Myatt UniServe, Sydney, October 2009

3 How do we define the URE? What is envisaged as the definition of an “undergraduate research experience” varies widely. Every student’s experience will differ but it is the responsibility of the institution to offer a breadth of experiences to encompass the different objectives owned by different students. Active vs passive & content vs process (Healey et. al., 2005) The “undergraduate research experience” in science at UQ is: –comprised of a number of different experiences, –offered in different forms, –available at different levels over the degree Program. Dr Paula Myatt UniServe, Sydney, October 2009

4 Why is the URE pivotal? Undergraduate research experiences are pivotal in providing context to student learning and providing a true sense of what it means to be a 'scientist'. “meaningfully engaging pre-college students in the practice of real science can make a difference in their understanding of beliefs” Charney et. al. (Int. J. Sci. Ed. 2007) “benefits to students including cognitive and personal growth and the development of a professional identity” and gains relating to “becoming a scientist”. Anne-Barrie Hunter et. al. (Sci. Ed. 91, 2007) “Many types of undergraduate research experience fuel interest in STEM careers and higher degrees. No formulaic combinations of activities optimises the URO,….it seems that the inculcation of enthusiasm is the key element – and the earlier the better.” Russell et. al. (Science 316,2007) Dr Paula Myatt UniServe, Sydney, October 2009

5 An introductory program networking students with researchers Meet the Research Team Lunches Laboratories Unwrapped Tours Research Team Placements Dr Paula Myatt UniServe, Sydney, October 2009 The USSER Network

6 understand what scientific research really entails realise the excitement that accompanies new discoveries Find out about the research being conducted at UQ Interact with researchers enter into the world of authentic scientific research make informed choices about research-based courses and careers Dr Paula Myatt UniServe, Sydney, October 2009 USSER Network is designed to help students:

7 Participation in the USSER Network In the last 18 months o 170 + students and 40 + researchers have participated in lunches & tours o 18 + research groups have offered placement opportunities o 10 + students have undertaken a placement

8 How useful is the USSER Network to students... 97-100% of students over 3 semesters have agreed the events were useful for : 1.Helping them to understand what research is really all about. 2.To realise the diversity of research conducted at UQ. 3.To make connections with UQ researchers. Dr Paula Myatt UniServe, Sydney, October 2009

9 Getting students into research... Semester 1 2008 (% of respondents) Semester 2 2008 (% of respondents) Semester 1 2009 (% of respondents) Very useful345969 Slightly useful524131 Not useful at all1400 Table 1: Students’ ratings of the usefulness of the USSER Network lunches for providing information about URE opportunities. …improvements to the program have doubled the proportion of students who rate the USSER Network as “very useful”.

10 Improve the frequency and quality of interactions between students and researchers 83% of respondents said the best part of the USSER Network was being able to met “real researchers”. “Just getting to talk to real researchers actually doing real research.” “Access to people I wouldn't normally get the opportunity to talk to about that kinda thing on a personal basis.” “The opportunity to mingle with those in the field was a great experience.” Dr Paula Myatt UniServe, Sydney, October 2009

11 Help students make informed choices about research-based courses and careers 75% of respondents mentioned learning more about how to prepare themselves now for undertaking research paths later on: “That if I really want to be sure that research is right for me then the best option would be to do a summer research scholarship that is related to my study interests and to get some firsthand experience.” “Being guided by the researchers themselves. They told us what we should be studying, who we should be meeting, etc.” Dr Paula Myatt UniServe, Sydney, October 2009

12 Help students understand what scientific research really entails 66% of respondents made comments that indicated that they had gained greater insights into what research is and what researchers really do, for example: “Meeting the researchers gave me a greater insight to what researchers do on a daily basis and how they feel about their career.” “Research isn't all being stuck in the lab.” “the lunches make researchers seem like less of a mythical creature” Dr Paula Myatt UniServe, Sydney, October 2009

13 Facilitate entry of undergraduate science students into authentic research experiences 31% of students made comments that indicated they were on their way toward gaining a hands-on URE, epitomised by: “I got a job! Woohoo!” Only 24% of respondents said in response to the open ended questions that they learnt there are URE opportunities to them and how get into a URE: “That is it the people whom researchers know and have had contact with, even if just by email, that they are more likely to choose for vacation work, rather than those with the higher grades. Basically, that I need to get out there more and meet my lecturers.” And the most frequent questions students raised were about how to contact researchers and how to get involved in research projects (30% of respondents). Dr Paula Myatt UniServe, Sydney, October 2009

14 Inform undergraduate students about the specific research being conducted at UQ 31% of respondents made comments that indicated that this aim had been achieved, for example: “getting to hear about the cool stuff that some of the researchers get to do! there is some really interesting work going on.” “about the 4 eyed fish that lives off the coast of brazil!” 31% of respondents also wanted more information about UQ researchers: “Maybe make a list of researchers that're attending so we can decide beforehand who to talk to.” “I would like to see more physicists and mathematicians as that is my field.”

15 Help students realise the excitement that accompanies new discoveries Only 22% of the respondents mentioned something about making discoveries, and most mentioned this indirectly… o Passion of a research interest, or satisfying curiosity: “Having them explain their research and what drives them in their careers.” “that researching is a hard slog (funding wise) but worth it to satisfy the curious individual!!” o A balance between research being rewarding and frustrating: “research can be tedious, but rewarding.” “I learnt that research takes a lot of work but is infinitely rewarding if you go about it in the right way!” Dr Paula Myatt UniServe, Sydney, October 2009

16 Recent Improvements & Future Plans Helping students get into hands-on UREs o Helping students find researchers in their area of interest: Short biographies for researchers at each event Mingling time at the end of lunches for students to approach particular researchers Providing links for URE courses and extracurricular activities on the USSER Network site Answers to Frequently Asked Questions on USSER Network site o Expansion of Placement aspect Placement Workshops to assist students in finding and approaching researchers for volunteer work Disseminating the USSER Network model o UQ School of Psychology and Office of Undergraduate Experience o Conferences like UniServe Further evaluation of the model o Deeper understanding of how students’ perceptions of research changes with participation in the USSER Network Dr Paula Myatt UniServe, Sydney, October 2009

17 Conclusions Model for introducing undergraduate students to the research culture of their institution from the very beginning of their degree Strategies for –Improving the frequency and quality of student – researcher interactions –Helping students to develop the understanding to make informed choices about research –Facilitating student entry into UREs Dr Paula Myatt UniServe, Sydney, October 2009

18 Acknowledgements Collaborators: Dr Kirsten Farrand Ms Nicole van der Burg Funding has been generously provided by The University of Queensland’s: Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) Faculty of Science Faculty of Engineering Architecture and IT & Faculty of Social and Behavioural Science Dr Paula Myatt UniServe, Sydney, October 2009


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