Conducting Research With Students

Conducting research with students can be a transformative experience both students and PIs. When students conduct research, they don’t just read about science, and hear about science, they become scientists. This allows them to make connections between their content knowledge and their observations, committing into long term memory the facts and figures they may have seen in a textbook, or heard during a lecture. Students can envision a life of science for themselves that they may not have previously thought was possible.

Undergraduate produced research can also infuse new life into the research program of the principal investigator. Despite their youth and relative inexperience, undergraduates can make significant contributions to their fields. In fact, some faculty argue the because of their greenness, undergraduate students are able to think creatively and approach new problems without the bias that comes from more academic maturity. Their sometimes uncommon approaches will help students deduce more effective methods of research, and will sometimes lead to a finding of real significance.

According to CUR, the Council on Undergraduate Research, undergraduates who participate in research are more likely to go to graduate school, and their research experiences help them to clarify their career goals. CUR argues that research “motivates students to learn by doing. With faculty mentors, students engage directly in practicing the work of their discipline while they avoid passively acquiring knowledge that that discipline has produced.”

Visit the CUR list of publications to view more work on incorporating research into the classroom, what CUR terms "the pedagogy for the 21st century".

Next steps:
Vist the CUR website to learn more about undergraduate research, read about SPU professor Derek Wood’s work with undergraduates and watch this video on undergraduate research.