Reflection: Undergraduate Researchers

I start by sharing that last week I found out that my application for an undergraduate research grant for 2020-2021 was rejected. I was a bit disappointed, I am not going to lie. I do not really care for the “recognition,” but I care about mentoring students. Specially when those students are female minority students (which has been most of the students who I have worked with over the last three years).

Over the last three years, I have worked with three different students. It really has been great. I have found weekly meeting on a specific date and time (in-person or online) is the best approach. During the meeting we usually discuss tasks the undergraduate researcher has completed and we discuss upcoming tasks. I do not like to make assumptions that the students understand every step of the research process so I like to have plenty of time for questions. I have found that students who are at the undergraduate stage and are interested in doing research are usually very good with time management, are super curious about the research process, and usually develop a better understanding of what it means to do research as a faculty member. 

Although I have worked with three different students (a different researcher every year), all of them were very quick to learn the tasks they were required to complete. We normally start with completion of the IRB CITI training and obtaining their certificates. Then, I usually give them time to read the research proposal that has been drafted for the project. We create a Google drive were all our mutual files for the project will be hosted. We set, as previously mentioned, a specific date and time to meet. I also like to provide samples of prior work completed, so that the undergraduate researcher can have an idea of what a report, section of a manuscript, conference proposal, or other documents looks like. I try to not overwhelm the undergraduate research with the many tasks that we will complete over the year, instead we focus on weekly tasks (a literature review, an annotated bibliography, review of a survey, creating tables, writing an introduction, putting together a poster, practicing a presentation, etc.).

Over the last year, I had the pleasure of working with Caldera Ripine (Elementary Education major). Just before the pandemic, in February, we attended the 2019 Eastern Educational Research (EERA) Conference in Orlando, FL. It was a wonderful experience. In a room with over 30 poster sessions, Caldera was the only undergraduate student presenting and she did amazing! 

I should also add that all of the prior undergraduate researchers who I have worked with in the past, Megan, Renata, and Caldeira, have been instrumental during the writing process. Here are some publications featuring undergraduate researchers:

Romero-Hall, E.J., Petersen, E., Sindicic, R., & Li, L. (forthcoming). Most Versus Least Used Social Media: Undergraduate Students’ Preferences, Participation, Lurking, and Motivational Factors. International Journal of Social Media and Interactive Learning Environments.

Romero-Hall, E.J., Adams, L., & Osgood, M. (2019). Examining the Effectiveness, Efficiency, and Usability of a Web-based Experiential Role-playing Aging Simulation using Formative Assessment. Journal of Formative Design in Learning, 3(2), 123–132.

I do not know what will happen during the 2020-2021 academic year. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is difficult to know what the academic year will look like. However, I am open to the possibility of working with an undergraduate researcher, if the opportunity presents itself. 

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