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Engaging students through authentic research experiences


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Edwards, A, Jones, SM, Wapstra, E and Richardson, AMM 2007 , 'Engaging students through authentic research experiences', paper presented at the National Uniserve Conference, 26-28/9/07, Sydney.

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Available under University of Tasmania Standard License.


Student involvement is vital to engagement, making learning experiences more meaningful, and can
be enriched by student-faculty interactions and diversity of learning environments (Smith et al.
2005). Experiential learning, in particular ‘hands on’ opportunities, can enhance undergraduate
experiences and engender increased enthusiasm for the subject, as well as confidence on the part of
students that they are being adequately prepared for science-related careers or postgraduate study
(Gawel and Greengrove 2005). At the same time, quantifying the positive influence of student
engagement with learning through authentic research experiences can be difficult (Griffiths 2004).
Despite curricula emphasizing student-led enquiry, some students still struggle to find relevance
and excitement in their undergraduate courses. Working from the Garnett and Holmes’ (1995) model
of how both students and academics can benefit from research, we have designed an incremental
suite of learning activities across the three years of the zoology undergraduate curriculum that
extends and enhances the student experience. The aims of the program are to extend and challenge
our undergraduate students by exposing them to current ‘hot topics’ in zoological research; enhance
students’ appreciation of methodology, philosophy and outcomes of scientific research; enthuse
students about the exciting research being carried out in zoology in Tasmania and encourage them to
think of themselves as the researchers of the future. Here we describe several components of this
program (summarised in Figure 1) which have been implemented and evaluated via student feedback.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Authors/Creators:Edwards, A and Jones, SM and Wapstra, E and Richardson, AMM
Additional Information:

Copyright © 2007 Ashley Edwards, Susan M. Jones, Erik Wapstra and Alastair M. M. Richardson

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