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The Research Communications Studio As A Tool For Developing Undergraduate Researchers In Engineering

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Technology, Communications & Ethics

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1286.1 - 9.1286.20



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Paper Authors

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Christopher Long

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

The Research Communications Studio as a Tool for Developing Undergraduate Researchers in Engineering

C. Long, E. Alford, J. Brader, L. Donath, R. Johnson, C. Liao, T. McGarry, M. Matthews, R. Spray, N. Thompson, and E. Vilar

University of South Carolina


The NSF-funded Research Communications Studio (RCS) project at the University of South Carolina, responding to groundbreaking theories in How People Learn, is among the first attempts to measure students’ responses to research-based learning in a distributed cognition environment. As an alternative to the unguided research scenario often encountered by part-time undergraduate researchers, the project provides a more structured environment in which contemporary constructivist learning theories are used to develop the research and communication skills of novice researchers.

The undergraduate researchers meet weekly in small interdisciplinary studio groups to strengthen their research and communication skills. Their needs drive discussions that typically revolve around some form of a deliverable (i.e., poster, journal article, presentation) regarding the research in which they are involved. Fellow undergraduates assist each other with problems as part of a peer relationship, while graduate mentors from both engineering and English provide near-peer support. Communications specialists and the undergraduates’ research advisors confer regularly and provide faculty perspectives. The dynamics of the meetings reflect a team-centered approach, offering solutions that stem from a network of distributed cognition.

The RCS is presented as an educational model that augments undergraduate research while supplementing classroom instruction. The research team has developed a multi-dimensional rubric and a coding system to quantify extensive qualitative data: student deliverables and videotapes of small group sessions. This paper focuses on the method for quantifying traditionally qualitative data, and, based on analyses of those data, reports progress undergraduates have made in their research learning through the distributed cognition environment of the RCS.

The Research Communications Studio Approach

The Research Communications Studio (RCS) is an innovative structure that integrates communications into the undergraduate research experience ( In the RCS, small groups of undergraduates who are working on research with engineering faculty, meet weekly under the mentorship of communications faculty and engineering and English graduate students. In the studio, students discuss, write about, and present their research as it progresses. The studio approach provides an environment for constructivist learning practices. Through an inquiry-based learning approach,

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright  2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Long, C. (2004, June), The Research Communications Studio As A Tool For Developing Undergraduate Researchers In Engineering Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13156

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