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ERIC Number: EJ1104433
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 36
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: EISSN-1918-2902
Engaging First-Year University Students in Research: Promise, Potentials, and Pitfalls
Sangster, Sarah L.; Loy, Kara L.; Mills, Sheryl D.; Lawson, Karen L.
Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, v7 n1 Article 3 2016
In 2014, the Undergraduate Research Initiative at the University of Saskatchewan implemented a pilot project to organize, support, and promote curriculum-based research experience as an integral aspect of participating first-year courses. The framework for the course-based initiative was the research arc; usually in groups, students in these classes would develop a research question, investigate it using discipline-appropriate methodologies, and disseminate the results. Nine classes (Agriculture, Animal Bioscience, Environmental Science, Women's and Gender Studies, Psychology, Kinesiology, and Interdisciplinary Studies) participated in this program pilot. There were four key agents in the program: faculty instructors, research coaches, students in participating first-year classes, and university administrative staff. This preliminary evaluation of the pilot suggests that first-year undergraduate research experiences have potential to benefit the undergraduate student participants as well as the faculty and research coaches involved. The primary benefits that faculty reported experiencing included an increased interest in ways to engage learners, reexamination of and reflection on their teaching strategies, the pragmatic support of a research coach helping with their work load, and an invigoration of their research. The primary benefits to research coaches included enhancement of their professional skills, experience in lesson planning and facilitation, CV building, and an ideology shift in how to best facilitate learning for undergraduate students. The most prominent benefits for undergraduate students appeared to be that they gained a better idea about how researchers think and work, that they increased their understanding of how research works, and that their own research and professional skills had improved. Early, bottom-up evaluation identified characteristics of implementation that appear to best facilitate achievement of the initiative's outcomes and identified the potential pitfall of imposing outcomes, from related but distinct initiatives, that may not be achievable or optimal in in the setting of first-year classes. The results of this evaluation suggest that rather than gaining clarity or focus, first-year students in course-based research experiences might gain awareness of their personal potential, of the potential of research, and of their career/educational options.
University of Western Ontario and Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Mills Memorial Library Room 504, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, ON L8S 4L6, Canada. Tel: 905-525-9140; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research; Tests/Questionnaires
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A