Source: CBE-Life Sciences Education, 11(3), 260–272.
Author(s): Thiry, H., Weston, T. J., Laursen, S. L., & Hunter, A.-B.
This mixed-methods study explores differences in novice and experienced undergraduate students’ perceptions of their cognitive, personal, and professional gains from engaging in scientific research. The study was conducted in four different undergraduate research (UR) programs at two research-extensive universities; three of these programs had a focus on the biosciences. Seventy-three entry-level and experienced student researchers participated in in-depth, semi-structured interviews and completed the quantitative Undergraduate Research Student Self-Assessment (URSSA) instrument. Interviews and surveys assessed students’ developmental outcomes from engaging in UR. Experienced students reported distinct personal, professional, and cognitive outcomes relative to their novice peers, including a more sophisticated understanding of the process of scientific research. Students also described the trajectories by which they developed not only the intellectual skills necessary to advance in science, but also the behaviors and temperament necessary to be a scientist. The findings suggest that students benefit from multi-year UR experiences. Implications for UR program design, advising practices, and funding structures are discussed.
Thiry, H., Weston, T. J., Laursen, S. L., & Hunter, A.-B. (2012). The benefits of multi-year research experiences: differences in novice and experienced students’ reported gains from undergraduate research. CBE-Life Sciences Education, 11(3), 260–272.