||UW-La Crosse offers many unique opportunities for students in every field. Undergraduate Research (UR) is one such opportunity at UW-L, as few other universities offer these experiences to the same extent. Through UR, students can gain practical experience in their respective fields and learn how to apply classroom knowledge to real-world situations. Recently, the importance of UR was illustrated through the allocation of funds from differential tuition. Many students have benefited from participation in UR and it is important to understand its effect here at UW-L to help students reach their full potential. Although there has been an increased concentration and emphasis put on UR, it is not known at what levels students are informed, participate, and perceive these opportunities.
The population of study was the undergraduate student body of UW-L, which consists of 8002 undergraduates. It is important to know how many students are aware of these opportunities and to what level they are informed. Student perceptions may also give helpful insight into making improvements to existing programs and reaching more students.
The purpose of this study was to gather information about student informedness, participation and perceptions of UR at UW-L. More specifically, we wished to estimate the average level of awareness on a 0 to 5 scale (0 being least aware, 5 being most aware). We were also interested in the proportion of students that have performed UR, as well as the proportion of students that have a positive view of UR versus those that have a negative view.
There were three main subpopulations of interest, categorized by year in school (by credit number), college, and by year in school within each college. By looking at year in school, we can see if there is an age and/or exposure influence. Presumably, if students have more college experience, they will more than likely be more aware of UR opportunities on campus. As older students begin to look past their undergraduate years, they may be interested in gaining research experience to make them more competitive in the job market or when applying to graduate school. Concurrently, freshmen will have less exposure to UR opportunities, thus being less informed. A student’s college affiliation may also affect the variables of interest. Students in the College of Science and Allied Health (SAH) may be more inclined to participate in UR than those in the College of Business and Administration (CBA) due to their respective curricula. There could be increased opportunities or advertising for research positions in a certain college, raising awareness and/or interest in these experiences. The combination of year in school by each college will give the most detailed information. It will allow us to look at age groups within the colleges to determine specifically what levels of interest, awareness, and participation are found for each group. For example, if freshmen in the College of Liberal Studies (CLS) have the lowest awareness but high interest, then administration can focus on getting those students involved in UR.|
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