August 23, 2022
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June 29, 2022
Undergraduate research is considered a high-impact practice. It provides students with the opportunity to improve their critical thinking and personal communication skills and offers the opportunity to build mentoring relationships with faculty, increasing the likelihood of graduate school attendance. In our qualitative research project on undergraduate engineering students’ beliefs and identities, we engaged undergraduate engineering student researchers to provide a unique perspective to the project as they are living in the context that they are also researching (i.e., the undergraduate engineering student experience). Thus, we aimed to harness the benefits of engaging undergraduate researchers to not only support their development as students and researchers but also to leverage their personal experiences to help us analyze and interpret our data. Additionally, the undergraduate researchers were able to gain personal insight into their own engineering identity development through engaging in reflective qualitative research practices. While the student researchers were not the participants who provided the data, their engagement with the research team helped us incorporate a student view directly into our work as we made sense of our data, which we believe was beneficial and necessary.
In this executive summary and poster, we report on the summer undergraduate research experience by detailing the undergraduate research associates (URAs) engagement with the data. We also provide a summary of our key takeaways highlighting the benefits to both the URAs themselves and to the added quality of the data analysis because of the insight from the URAs. We end with a series of suggestions for researchers working with URAs based on our experience engaging URAs in qualitative research, specifically when engaging URAs who are living in the same context under investigation. To be clear, in this executive summary we are not reporting on findings from the data analysis of our NSF project but rather on how engaging undergraduate researchers not only helped the URAs develop as students and researchers but also how the URAs helped us develop and contextualize the findings, which we feel added to the validity of our work.
Kramer, A., & Li, Y., & Braaten, B., & Kajfez, R., & Dringenberg, E. (2022, August), Engaging undergraduate researchers: Contextualizing beliefs and identities about smartness in engineering Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN. https://peer.asee.org/42042
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