BournemouthUniversity’s Associate Professor,Heather Hartwell, took part in a lively online debate on Friday, discussing how to engage undergraduates in research.
Hosted by the Guardian Higher Education network, Dr Hartwell joined panellists from the Universities of Leeds,Central Lancashire,East LondonandLincolnamong others, to provide expertise and advice on how to develop undergraduate research programmes and ensure they are successful.
Dr Hartwell explained BU’s ‘fusion’ concept, describing ‘a community where research is part of core business and where both undergraduates and post graduates are engaged in that activity so becomes part of the ‘daily’ business’.
The British Conference for Undergraduate Research was widely considered by panel members to be an excellent initiative. This takes place at theUniversityofWarwickin March, with ten BU students from theSchoolofTourismpresenting posters.
Fellow panellists and participants in the web chat were also impressed by Dr Hartwell’s own experiences engaging undergraduates with research; notably her work with theUSarmy. “We were awarded a contract by theUSarmy to study food and emotions,” she said. “This was with the demographic of their ‘war fighters’, so young adults. During a first year lecture I asked for volunteers to help me, and the sea of hands was amazing. In fact recruiting students to help was beneficial because they were the same age group as the sample.”
But it’s not only the students who benefit from engaging with research. Dr Hartwell commented that sometimes dissertation data is of such high quality that she has been known to use it to form the basis of a short co-authored paper.
Inevitably the issue of peer ‘snobbery’ was raised, questioning the status of published undergraduate research. Dr Hartwell suggested that if ‘published work was blind peer reviewed and therefore the ‘process’ did not know where the work had come from – it was accepted on its merit’.
The full debate can be viewed via the Guardian Higher Education Network.