Involving undergraduates in research: the Psychology Research Apprenticeship Scheme

Following on from Sally Gates’ recent blog about involving undergraduates in research, we thought it would be good to share with the blog readership our experience of the Research Apprenticeship Scheme that we have been running in the Psychology Research Centre for the past three years.

Undergraduate students in their second year are offered the chance to work alongside staff and help them with their research.  These positions enable 2nd year students to work directly alongside staff and help them with their research.  Students get the chance to work together with researchers, gathering and analysing data, and working out what experimental findings might mean.  The students often get a chance to work with specialist equipment that they might not have been able to otherwise and gain in-depth knowledge of what research really involves. And of course it looks great on their CVs. This experience engenders the research bug in the students – two were intrigued enough to apply for and win funding from the Nuffield Foundation for summer work in the Psychology Research Centre – and those students and others from the scheme are busy applying for PhD positions this year.   The scheme also provides the students with invaluable experience for their own research project in their final year of study.

Of course, the scheme also helps staff.  We really appreciate the help and support the ‘apprentices’ provide.  The scheme has really grown and this year we were able to offer 25 research apprenticeship positions to 2nd year students.  We hope the scheme will go from strength to strength and that in future years we may be able to offer one or two paid summer placements to our best undergraduate apprentice researchers.