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Tools for Transformation Funded Proposals

Advising Undergraduates in Research: Faculty Advising Pamphlet

Undergraduate Education

The advantages of incorporating undergraduates into high-quality research laboratories at the University of Washington are clear. The breadth of a student’s education is enhanced, perspectives on a research career are achieved, and rewarding advising experiences are obtained. However, for many faculty the means for including undergraduate students in their research programs is confusing and intimidating. The main question, "How can I create an effective, rewarding experience for the student without sacrificing research productivity?" The purpose of this pamphlet is to provide answers to this and other relevant questions about advising undergraduates in research. A fundamental philosophy is proposed; sample application and assessment forms are provided. The intent is to provide a pamphlet useful to basic science, engineering, and other faculty who are considering incorporating undergraduate students into their research laboratories.

Contact: Joan Sanders
Associate Professor, Bioengineering

Kim Johnson-Bogart
Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Education

Allocation: $38,970
Date Funded: June 1999


A draft of the pamphlet was written and is now being revised based on feedback from several administrators, faculty members, and students. The major sections include:

A key concept discussed is to match the research project with the student's level of development as a scientist and to evolve the project as the student matures. Techniques are proposed for developing projects that are useful to the faculty member's overall research program without putting excessive expectations on the student. Examples illustrating the techniques discussed are included as sidebars to the text. Also described are means for evaluating student applications for research positions, not only to determine their strengths and areas in which they need improvement, but also to evaluate their match with the research laboratory. Diagnostic methods for assessing how students think and approach problem-solving facilitate that effort. Effective mentoring is a crucial aspect of undergraduate research, and several basic important concepts are described, both for individual project and group project situations. Logistical issues including recruiting methods, campus resources, and funding opportunities are described. A section titled, "What to do if …" addresses unanticipated events common in undergraduate research experiences and how to deal with them.

The second draft of the pamphlet is near completion. A next step will be for the graphic artists to add appropriate images/diagrams to the text to enhance clarity. The expected publication date is early 2002, with 5,000-10,000 copies published. Copies will be sent to all University of Washington faculty and made available to others interested in the material.

Funds to date have been used to pay part of Sanders' summer salary ($14,798), leaving $20,844 for graphic artist and publication expenses. These funds should be adequate to cover the remaining costs.

Tools for Transformation Funded Proposals