How have the students reacted?
Students who took part in the pilot reacted positively.
They highlighted gains in employability. As experiencing the process of research, students stated the development of theoretical, analytical and problem solving skills as well as the links between topics, skills and knowledge. One student shared: ‘I visualise how my lectures could be physically applied to real-life jobs’.
Students also stressed grown confidence in doing and understanding research, and appreciating any complex or uncertain aspects of the project as a work in progress. They understood they needed to show determination and perseverance.
Communication skills, time management and commitment for being part of a research group were also positively pointed out.
What benefits have staff seen?
It was undeniable that this opportunity has a great potential: 1) students become more mature and aware in what relates the research process and reflection, 2) they are prepared for future research challenges, since undergraduates are introduced to ‘real’ research projects and some of them continue participating in research projects, and 3) they are pushed to develop cognitive and technical competences. Also, by being part of a research community and/or team, not only students develop a broad range of skills, but also academic members of staff enhance mentoring and supervision skills, as well as improve teaching.
As a collaborator mentioned in one meeting: ‘Students develop research skills by doing this work. It is a good practical project that simultaneously enhances skills and enriches College experience whilst providing valuable help to those requiring research assistance. We know from feedback that prospective employers are likely to be impressed by candidates with such experience, and will sometimes raise it in job interviews’.