Just a Paycheck? Assessing Student Benefits of Work on Faculty Research Projects
The benefits that students gain from designing and implementing their own independent undergraduate research projects is often presented as a valuable step in their academic career, and a stepping stone to graduate school success. However, it is not clear what benefits students receive when working as undergraduate research assistants on faculty research projects where they, the students, have little or no input into the project or its design. This paper reports on a survey of undergraduate students who participated as wage laborers on two separate faculty-directed research projects. The results of the study suggest that students gain valuable knowledge and skills that serve as constructive preparation for work, personal lives and graduate school careers; in addition, their participation in research enhances their overall undergraduate experience.
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