Little, C (2020) Undergraduate research as a student engagement springboard: Exploring the longer-term reported benefits of participation in a research conference. Educational Research. ISSN 0013-1881

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ABSTRACTBackground: Undergraduate research is evident in many forms across higher education: in journals, at conferences and on research placements. It is widely reported that undergraduate research can encourage the development of discipline-specific and transferable communication skills and, in some cases, a more complex development of higher-order critical appraisal. Recent studies of extracurricular undergraduate research conferences have also found that participants report a development of self-authorship and an appreciation of the conference as liminal and transformative space. With many published studies measuring immediate feedback surrounding conference events, there is also a need to explore participants’ reflections over a longer term period of time.Purpose: This small-scale project investigated participants’ self-report of whether and in what ways participation in a non-assessed, extracurricular undergraduate research conference had impacted their academic and professional practices, one year after their involvement in the conference.Method: The qualitative study took place over two academic years with participants from an undergraduate conference which was held annually. The investigation adopted an action research methodology and completed two cycles of research. Data were collected firstly through an online survey with open questions, yielding feedback from 44 respondents. Focus groups were then conducted with nine of these students to explore this data further. A thematic approach was used to analyse the data.Findings: The two cycles of data collection and analyses resulted in the identification of four central themes: (1) general positive impact on studies or career; (2) the development of presentation skills and personal confidence; (3) the development of research skills and perspectives; (4) an increased engagement with extracurricular opportunities.Conclusions: Overall, our analysis identified that participants reported a development in communication skills and an enhanced relationship with the concept of ‘research’ and self-authorship. Students’ report that participation directly led to increased engagement with additional extracurricular activities is particularly noteworthy, as it contributes something new to the growing body of literature surrounding undergraduate research. More widely, the study suggests the potential for undergraduate conferences to act as springboards for increased extracurricular engagement.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The final accepted manuscript and all relevant information regarding this paper can be found at;
Uncontrolled Keywords: Undergraduate research, student engagement, students as producers, undergraduate conference, action research, higher education
Subjects: Q Science > Q Science (General)
R Medicine > R Medicine (General) > R735 Medical education. Medical schools. Research
Divisions: Keele Institute for Innovation and Teaching Excellence
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 13 May 2020 11:05
Last Modified: 16 Oct 2021 01:30

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