STUDENT PERCEPTIONS OF USING THE PALEOBIOLOGY DATABASE (PBDB) TO CONDUCT UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH
A preliminary examination of the survey data (n = 224; 46% plan on majoring in science) suggests students are divided between whether they’ve done or plan to do research (34.9% yes, 30.7% no, 34.4% not sure). The most motivating factors for doing research are working on a specific project (18.3%), gaining experience for career/graduate school (16.0%), and being excited by/loving the work (14.2%). Students described working with the PBDB as being of moderate or much help in increasing their comfort level working with complex ideas and large datasets. A preliminary analysis of student reflections (n=189), yielded four emergent categories for student perceptions of research: research as making observations of distribution patterns; research as making observations of distribution patterns in relation to another variable; research as making observations and formulating hypotheses or making predictions; and other. Reported future interest in conducting research using PBDB varied (yes, no, maybe/non-committal) with emergent themes around interest level in geoscience and/or research in general; the perception of the value of the PBDB dataset; user experience with dataset (e.g., ease of use, likability); and appropriateness of dataset for their research topic/questions. These results suggest that students do have interest in using large datasets to engage in research, but more explicit instruction around conducting research is needed to ensure quality experience.