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Training Undergraduates In The Broader Context Of The Research Enterprise

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Professional Development in Materials Engineering

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1296.1 - 13.1296.10



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Paper Authors

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Katie Cadwell University of Wisconsin - Madison

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Wendy Crone University of Wisconsin - Madison

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

Training Undergraduates in the Broader Context of the Research Enterprise Abstract

Undergraduate students participate in research through a variety of mechanisms, including on- campus research assistant positions, summer research experience programs, independent study research credits, and even research-oriented degree requirements. Educators from several units on our campus have collaborated to develop undergraduate-level training materials associated with the context of research. Topics covered include the scientific method, ethics in research, documentation and treatment of research data, publication practices, presentation of results, the structure of the broader research community, the graduate school application process, effective presentations, and abstract writing. The “learning objects” (videos, readings, case studies, and discussion activities) we created have been used to introduce undergraduates to the conduct of science and engineering research. These resources have been tested in formal classroom and seminar venues, through an “Introduction to Engineering Research” course in our Engineering Physics bachelor’s degree program and a seminar series offered to undergraduate students engaged in research with the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) at the University of Wisconsin - Madison.


In response to initiatives by the National Science Foundation, including the Recognition Awards for the Integration of Research and Education (RAIRE), as well as a growing realization that undergraduate researchers benefit from training in ancillary research skills such as searching the scientific literature or presenting research findings,1 many institutions have developed undergraduate research programs that incorporate additional training on research skills as part of their mission. In addition to providing undergraduate students with opportunities to pursue research projects with faculty members, these programs also offer workshops,2,3,4 courses,5,6 and even “boot-camp”-style summer research experiences7 that focus on topics such as performing scientific literature searches, the role of the engineer in society, research and engineering ethics, communicating research findings, careers in research and even applying to graduate school.

The topics covered by these programs and the ones we describe below are among the issues that the Council on Undergraduate Research points to as critical for a successful undergraduate research experience associated with "socializ[ing] students in the research laboratory culture."8 This ranges from topics as diverse as the values and ethics of research, safety, group dynamics, intellectual property, and graduate school applications. Lessons on many of these topics have been presented for young scientists in the National Academies' "On Being a Scientist."9 In particular, this resource highlights case studies and advocates the active learning technique of "collective deliberation" on the topics in a group discussion format. In addition to the National Academies' booklet, there are a number of resources available that provide cases on the responsible conduct of research and guidance for instructors (or discussion facilitators) and on how to guide this process of learning and discovery.10,11,12

Cadwell, K., & Crone, W. (2008, June), Training Undergraduates In The Broader Context Of The Research Enterprise Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3977

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