Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM


PHILLIPS, P. Lee, Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creativity Office, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 136 McIver Building, PO Box 23170, Greensboro, NC 27402-6170,

Undergraduate research offers engaged learning experiences. Students engaged in experiential learning are shown to grasp concepts more readily than others. The traditional lecture-laboratory pairings and capstone field courses have been the foundation of geoscience education. Therefore, geology (and other science) students are potentially excellent examples of engaged learners. Even so, extracurricular research experiences often help students understand the scientific process more fully. As an undergraduate in the early 1990’s in a program that boasted about 50 majors, I was one of only two students engaged in an extracurricular faculty mentored research project. The experience instilled 1) a desire to work more diligently in the classroom and laboratory, 2) a greater interest in understanding how knowledge is gained, 3) a sense of project ownership that I shared with my mentor, 4) the confidence to present research results to a group of scientists, and 5) a desire to contribute to the greater body of knowledge. As a graduate student, my advisors allowed me to share the responsibilities of mentoring a few undergraduates. This incredible phase of mentoring was more of a peer learning experience where I happened to have a better understanding of disciplinary details. Young faculty members are often all too eager to engage undergraduates in experiences that are often beyond an appropriate level. Some lessons learned from this phase of engagement include: 1) one size doesn’t fit all, 2) all can benefit if the project is appropriate in scale, 3) make certain the goals are clear and achievable, 4) projects should be small enough to complete (or fail) in a reasonable amount of time, and 5) allow the students to take credit for their experiences. In this presentation I will describe my experiences with undergraduate research from the perspectives of a student, graduate student, faculty member, and undergraduate research program director.