2009 Teaching and Learning Symposium

2:30-4:30 p.m., April 21, 2009
HUB Ballroom

Session Description



The Undergraduate Research Experience:
A Developmental Approach to Program Design for Research-Intensive Universities

Brian J. Buchwitz and Barbara T. Wakimoto (Biology)

Undergraduate research programs at colleges and universities vary widely in structure, criteria used to select participants, and type and duration of program support. Our aim is to design a program that is best suited for students and faculty mentors at large, research-intensive universities. Here we describe the design and assessment of the University of Washington-Howard Hughes Medical Institute Integrative Research Internship Program (UW-HHMI IRIP).

The UW-HHMI IRIP differs substantially from the more common summer-only undergraduate research programs in its intentionally developmental and integrative approach. Key features include: selection of a diverse cohort of students who have had little or no previous research experience; a required seminar course to facilitate introduction to research culture and broaden students appreciation of different types of research fields in biology; and an extended period of support that includes part-time research for two academic quarters preceding full-time research in summer.

To assess our program, we are using two national surveys, the Survey of Undergraduate Research Experiences (SURE II) and the Undergraduate Research Student Self-Assessment survey (URSSA) which report gains as perceived by the undergraduate researchers. We show that UW-HHMI IRIP participants report higher than average learning gains in 20 of the 21 areas measured by SURE II. To compare student gains as evaluated by faculty mentors, we are testing a new mentor survey developed through a collaboration between our HHMI program and those at Montana State University, Oregon State University, and University of Montana. Overall, our results indicate that the UW-HHMI IRIP is providing beginning undergraduate researchers with meaningful research experience and encouraging retention in research for at least one additional academic year.


Index of Symposium Presenters