What Do They Expect? A Comparison of Student Expectations and Outcomes of Undergraduate Research Experiences

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The beneficial outcomes of undergraduate research (UR) in science have been continuously supported in scholarly research. The reported outcomes are often discussed in terms of institutional goals for education. The purpose of this manuscript is to examine the outcomes of UR in science in relation to the individual expectations of students participating in UR. A questionnaire on students' expectations of their research experience was completed by 26 undergraduate science majors at the beginning of the semester in which they were doing research. Students completed a second questionnaire at the end of their semester of research on their perceived outcomes of their experience. Follow-up interviews were conducted with 11 of the participants to gain a deeper understanding of the relationship between students' expectations and outcomes of UR. Increased GPA and help getting into graduate or professional school were the two outcomes for which students reported significantly higher outcomes than expectations. Making faculty connections and publishing research were the two outcomes for which reported expectations were significantly higher than outcomes. These results can be used to help institutions fine-tune their UR programs to address student expectations.

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