A Qualitative Review of Early Undergraduate Research from the Perspective of Faculty Members, Academic Advisors, and Undergraduate Researchers (Students) at a Two-Year College

Main Article Content

Debra Lynn Frame


Over the past several decades, undergraduate research programs have offered special benefits to students that further develop critical professional and personal skills. Due to the special challenges faced by students at two-year institutions, early undergraduate research experiences may be exponentially important. With this in mind, this paper presents a qualitative review of the perceived benefits and challenges regarding early undergraduate research experiences from the viewpoint of faculty members, academic advisors, and several students who completed undergraduate research projects at a two-year institution. Generally, reflective measures suggest four main findings, which were most frequently communicated across all three participant groups: a clear definition, multiple benefits, agreed upon challenges, and the value of early undergraduate research. Despite reflective measures that suggest areas of agreement, there remained areas of confusion that need to be clarified including, a full understanding and emphasis on the importance of the mentoring relationship, breaking down the communication barrier between participant groups, and developing agreement regarding the specific goals for skill development. In the future, each of these areas needs to be addressed to realize the goal of offering a greater number of undergraduate research experiences at our college.

Article Details

What works in the classroom
Author Biography

Debra Lynn Frame, University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College

Dr. Deb Frame is an AssociateProfessor of Psychology at the University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College (UCBA) where she has served as an academic advisor for pre-psychology and is the UCBA Program Coordinator for Pre-Psychology. Her teaching responsibilities include Introduction to Psychology, Sensation and Perception, and Adulthood and Aging. Dr. Frame focuses her research in the area of cognitive processing as it applies to technology in the classroom and instructional materialdesign with a special interest in the interactive classroom and the benefits of intergenerational community projects and service learning.


Bauer, K. W., & Bennet, J. B. (2003). Alumni perception used to assess undergraduate research experience. The Journal of Higher Education, 74(2), 210-230. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3648256?seq=1&cid=pdf-reference#references_tab_contents

Craney C., McKay, T., Mazzeo, A. Morris, J. Progodich, C., & de Groot, R. (2011) Cross-Discipline perception of the undergraduate research experience. The Journal of Higher Education, 82(1), 92-113. doi: 10.1353/jhe.2011.0000

Falconer, J., & Holcomb, D. (2008). Understanding undergraduate research experiences from the student perspective: A phenomenological study of a summer student research program. College Student Journal, 42(3), 869-878.

Fechheimer, M., Webber, K., & Kleiber, P.B. (2011). How well do undergraduate research programs promote engagement and success of students? CBE Life Sciences Education 10: 156-163. doi: 10.1187/cbe.10-10-0130

Gutterman, L. (2007, August 17). What good is undergraduate research, anyway? The Chronicle of Higher Education, 53(50), A12. Retrieved from http://www.chronicle.com/article/What-Good-Is-Undergraduate/6927

Hathaway, R.S., Nagda, B.R.A., & Gregerman, S. R. (2002). The relationship of undergraduate research participation to graduate and professional education pursuit: An empirical study. Journal of College Student Development, 43(5), 614-631.

Kinkead, J. (2003). Learning through inquiry: An overview of undergraduate research. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 93, 5-17. doi: 10.1002/tl.85

Knoll, B. R. (2016). Learning by doing: Mentoring group-based undergraduate research projects in an upper-level political science course. The Teacher, 49(1), 128-131. doi:10.1017/S1049096515001146

Kuh, G. D. (2003). What we're learning about student engagement from NSSE. Change, 35(2), 24-32. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00091380309604090

Linn, M. C., Palmer, E., Baranger, A., Gerard, E., & Stone, E. (2015). Undergraduate research experiences: Impacts and opportunities. Science, 347(6222), 1261757-1 – 126757-6. doi: 10.1126/science.1261757

Lapatto, D. (2003, March). The essential features of undergraduate research. Council on Undergraduate Research Quarterly, 139-142. Retrieved from http://scholar.google.com/scholar_url?url=https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/8b47/f05fecb485b85b17d9c371607a3422a822de.pdf&hl=en&sa=X&scisig=AAGBfm2S8FBsYLAi8VL99uRPLmP2Zfgojg&nossl=1&oi=scholarr

Lopatto, D. (2006). Undergraduate research as a catalyst for liberal learning. Peer Review, 8(1), 22-25. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.proxy.libraries.uc.edu/docview/216599120?accountid=2909

Lopatto, D. (2010). Undergraduate research as a high-impact student experience. Peer Review, 12(2), 27+. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.proxy.libraries.uc.edu/ps/i.do?p=EAIM&sw=w&u=ucinc_main&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA234078346&sid=summon&asid=643ddab040853832e033493833122f45

Nagda, B. A., Gregeman, S. R., Jonides, J., von Hippel, W., & Lerner, J. S. (1998). Undergraduate student-faculty research partnerships affect student retention. The Review of Higher Education, 22(1), 55-72. Retrieved from http://scholar.harvard.edu/files/jenniferlerner/files/1998_6.pdf

O’Donnell, K., Botelho, J., Brown, J., González, G. M., & Head, W. (2015). Undergraduate research and its impact on student success for underrepresented students. New Directions for Higher Education (169), 27-38. doi: 10.1002/he.20120

Perez, J. A. (2003). Undergraduate research at two-year colleges. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 93, 69-77. doi: 10.1002/tl.85

Russell, S. H., Hancock, M. P., & McCullough, J. (2007). Benefits of undergraduate research experiences. Science 316, 548-549. doi: 10.1126/science.1140384

Salkind, N. J. (Ed.). (2010). Encyclopedia of research design. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Retrieved from http://ebooks.ohiolink.edu/xtf-ebc/view?docId=tei/sage/9781412961271/9781412961271.xml&query=&brand=default

University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College [UCBA]. (2015). Enrollment reports – UCBA institutional research [Data files]. Retrieved September 28, 2016 from http://www.ucblueash.edu/offices/administrative/institutional-research/enrollment.html

Zachary, L. J. (2012). The mentor’s guide: Facilitating effective learning relationships (2 ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.