ERIC Number: EJ1110004
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Abstractor: As Provided
Examining and Contrasting the Cognitive Activities Engaged in Undergraduate Research Experiences and Lab Courses
Holmes, N. G.; Wieman, Carl E.
Physical Review Physics Education Research, v12 n2 p020103-1-020103-11 Jul-Dec 2016
While the positive outcomes of undergraduate research experiences (UREs) have been extensively categorized, the mechanisms for those outcomes are less understood. Through lightly structured focus group interviews, we have extracted the cognitive tasks that students identify as engaging in during their UREs. We also use their many comparative statements about their coursework, especially lab courses, to evaluate their experimental physics-related cognitive tasks in those environments. We find there are a number of cognitive tasks consistently encountered in physics UREs that are present in most experimental research. These are seldom encountered in lab or lecture courses, with some notable exceptions. Having time to reflect and fix or revise, and having a sense of autonomy, were both repeatedly cited as key enablers of the benefits of UREs. We also identify tasks encountered in actual experimental research that are not encountered in UREs. We use these findings to identify opportunities for better integration of the cognitive tasks in UREs and lab courses, as well as discussing the barriers that exist. This work responds to extensive calls for science education to better develop students' scientific skills and practices, as well as calls to expose more students to scientific research.
Descriptors: Undergraduate Study, Physics, Student Research, Focus Groups, Science Laboratories, Science Experiments, Science Education, Scientific Research, College Students, Semi Structured Interviews, Student Projects, Planning
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A