This paper was edited by former Editor Nancy W. Brickhouse.
Becoming a scientist: The role of undergraduate research in students' cognitive, personal, and professional development†
Article first published online: 12 OCT 2006
Copyright © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Volume 91, Issue 1, pages 36–74, January 2007
How to Cite
Hunter, A.-B., Laursen, S. L. and Seymour, E. (2007), Becoming a scientist: The role of undergraduate research in students' cognitive, personal, and professional development. Sci. Ed., 91: 36–74. doi: 10.1002/sce.20173
- Issue published online: 1 DEC 2006
- Article first published online: 12 OCT 2006
- Manuscript Accepted: 2 JUN 2006
- Manuscript Revised: 2 MAY 2006
- Manuscript Received: 9 NOV 2005
- NSF-ROLE grant (#NSF PR REC-0087611): “Pilot Study to Establish the Nature and Impact of Effective Undergraduate Research Experiences on Learning, Attitudes and Career Choice.”
- Howard Hughes Medical Institute special projects grant, “Establishing the Processes and Mediating Factors that Contribute to Significant Outcomes in Undergraduate Research Experiences for both Students and Faculty: A Second Stage Study.”
In this ethnographic study of summer undergraduate research (UR) experiences at four liberal arts colleges, where faculty and students work collaboratively on a project of mutual interest in an apprenticeship of authentic science research work, analysis of the accounts of faculty and student participants yields comparative insights into the structural elements of this form of UR program and its benefits for students. Comparison of the perspectives of faculty and their students revealed considerable agreement on the nature, range, and extent of students' UR gains. Specific student gains relating to the process of “becoming a scientist” were described and illustrated by both groups. Faculty framed these gains as part of professional socialization into the sciences. In contrast, students emphasized their personal and intellectual development, with little awareness of their socialization into professional practice. Viewing study findings through the lens of social constructivist learning theories demonstrates that the characteristics of these UR programs, how faculty practice UR in these colleges, and students' outcomes—including cognitive and personal growth and the development of a professional identity—strongly exemplify many facets of these theories, particularly, student-centered and situated learning as part of cognitive apprenticeship in a community of practice. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Sci Ed91:36–74, 2007