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Abstract

Descriptions of student-identified benefits of undergraduate research experiences are drawn from analysis of 76 first-round student interviews gathered at the end of summer 2000 at four participating liberal arts colleges (Grinnell, Harvey Mudd, Hope, and Wellesley). As part of the interview protocol, students commented on a checklist of possible benefits derived from the literature. They also added gains that were not on this list. Students were overwhelmingly positive: 91% of all statements referenced gains from their experiences. Few negative, ambivalent, or qualified assessments of their research experiences were offered. The benefits described were of seven different kinds. Expressed as percentages of all reported gains, they were personal/professional gains (28%); “thinking and working like a scientist” (28%); gains in various skills (19%); clarification/confirmation of career plans (including graduate school) (12%); enhanced career/graduate school preparation (9%); shifts in attitudes to learning and working as a researcher (4%); and other benefits (1%). © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Sci Ed88:493–534, 2004