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Undergraduate research experiences: Impacts and opportunities


"Most undergraduates give high ratings to research experiences. Studies report that
these experiences improve participation and persistence, often by strengthening students' views of themselves as scientists. Yet, the evidence for these claims is weak. More than half the 60 studies reviewed rely on self-report surveys or interviews. Rather than introducing new images of science, research experiences may reinforce flawed images especially of research practices and conceptual understanding. The most convincing studies show benefits for mentoring and for communicating the nature of science, but the ideas that students learn are often isolated or fragmented rather than integrated and coherent. Rigorous research is needed to identify ways to design research experiences
so that they promote integrated understanding. These studies need powerful and generalizable assessments that can document student progress, help distinguish effective and ineffective aspects of the experiences, and illustrate how students interpret the research experiences they encounter. To create research experiences that meet the needs of interested students and make effective use of scarce resources, we encourage systematic, iterative studies with multiple indicators of success."