Bringing Undergraduate Research to Life
|Dr Orna O’Brien
|43 stage 3 Bachelor of Business Studies part-time students
This showcase is about how use of a Research Expo has brought research to life for UCD undergraduate business students who, as part-time students, have particularly benefited from the community developed. It takes place as part of the 'Undergraduate Dissertation', a 20 ECTS module at stage three of the Bachelor of Business Studies programme.
As part of the final year of study, students have an opportunity to conduct a small piece of research on a topic of their choice, thus helping them to develop research skills in their chosen field. The dissertation provides students with an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to identify, collect, organise and analyse data and to systematically develop a cohesive argument to address a particular research question.
The project culminates with a Research Expo day which is worth 10% of the project. The Research Expo provides students with an opportunity to use a poster to showcase their work to classmates, faculty, programme staff, family, friends and employers. A panel of judges circulates to evaluate the posters.
- A primary goal of the Expo is to provide students with the opportunity to utilise their analytical skills by summarising their project into a poster. This encourages them to think about the key 'headlines' of their research and to consider its visual representation.
- The Expo also provides students with an opportunity to network and share their research experience with their peers. Research is often an insular activity and this demonstrates to the students that they are part of a community of practice with whom they can share their experience.
- The Research Expo is an innovative approach to socialising the research process for students and marking their achievement in completing a research project and the programme itself.
- The Expo provides a way to assess the students' understanding of the research process.
THE INNOVATIVE APPROACH
It is an increasingly popular innovation to have research at undergraduate level and to have this culminate with the use of posters to share the research findings. Students taking the "Undergraduate Dissertation" module are new to the research process, therefore, a number of plenary sessions are scheduled for the critical stages of the process.
The approach taken in the module allows learning and research to be closely aligned. It facilitates students in disseminating their industry findings to faculty.
The Research Expo is scheduled to take place on the last day on campus for the students. It is an opportunity to mark their final submission and invite their family and friends to be part of their achievement. It is a celebration of the students and their learning.
This approach encourages students to share their experiences and to overcome the sense of isolation often experienced by students when researching.
Students had the opportunity acquire specialist knowledge and also develop transferable skills including project management, time management, data analysis, report writing, poster production and poster presentation. In student feedback*, 75% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: “My research will help me with my career”.
The module appears to have helped to demystify the research process for students and it is likely that it has encouraged them to pursue further studies. 95% of the survey respondents either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: “I plan to undertake postgraduate study in the future”. Furthermore:
- The Research Expo demonstrates that being a part-time student and completing a research project can be socialised learning experiences.
- It is a particularly effective means for students to distil their key research findings and display them visually.
- The event has been a very successful way to assess the students' understanding of the research process.
- Students have enjoyed the opportunity to discuss their research and engage with their peers on their research topics. It is a very positive culmination to the students’ research process for the year.
*The survey was completed by approximately 50% of the 43 students to whom it was issued.
Staff and students talk about the Research Expo in the following video.