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Translatable Research Group-Based Undergraduate Research Program for Lower-Division Students


Participating in undergraduate research yields positive outcomes for undergraduate students, and universities are seeking ways to engage more students in undergraduate research earlier in their academic careers. Typically, undergraduate students perform research either as part of an apprenticeship where a student receives individual mentorship in a research lab setting from an experienced researcher in the field of interest or in a course-based undergraduate research experience where students work in a classroom or teaching laboratory to investigate open-ended research questions. In this work, we implement a model of undergraduate research that combines aspects of those two methods to provide benefits to undergraduate students and research groups. A cohort of 20 first-year undergraduate students at the University of California-Berkeley were recruited to work on a project investigating data previously collected by the Alivisatos research group. Over a semester, these students learned about nanomaterials and the research process, pursued curiosity-driven research in teams, and presented their results at a formal poster session. Students from this program showed quantifiable gains in their self-identification as researchers and scientists. This program was developed to be a model for other research groups, departments, and universities to combine the benefits of traditional apprenticeship research and course-based undergraduate research to provide a research experience for large numbers of undergraduate students early in their college education.

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