Research at Early Years of Undergraduate Programmes
One aspect of integrating research into the early years of the curriculum involves demonstrating to students the research that is currently taking place in their own institution and elsewhere that is relevant to their discipline. While academic staff may discuss their own research at times during class, this is not always standard practice. Many staff involved in teaching the early years of programmes may not themselves be research active. During the current Covid-19 crisis, students are less likely still to interact with researchers, given their limited time on campus.
Since its establishment, the SURE Network has been dedicated to enhancing the awareness of research and research careers among undergraduate students. While the focus of the network has been primarily on the latter years of undergraduate programmes, the Network is aware of the need to scaffold those years on a solid foundation in the early years, during which research is made more accessible to students, and in many cases, demystified.
The SUREbyts Database
It is proposed to create a database of brief videos from active researchers and research students that will be played in class for early stage undergraduate students. Each video will be called a SUREbyt and will be divided into the following blocks:
- A – 3 minutes: Researcher introduces themselves, describes a problem/question related to their research, and presents three possible answers.
- B – 3 minutes: Video continues to play with the question and possible answers on screen and a timer counting down three minutes. During this time, students who are viewing the video are asked to think‐pair‐share with each other to answer the question posed.
- C – 2 minutes: Researcher provides and explains the answer.
It not intended that this would an engaging activity that could be used by a lecturer at the start of a class, or during a break in a class, and thus would be linked to the following objectives:
- Interest in, and exposure to, research
- Student engagement
- Confidence building
- Problem solving
- Development of lateral thinking
- Understanding of postgraduate studies
It is intended that the SUREbyts database will developed to include 50-100 8-minute videos during this project, and will then be added to over time. SUREbyts will be developed collaboratively by researchers and research students, and in some cases, final year students and recent graduates. SUREbyts will be actively used on science programmes in SURE partners and elsewhere thus helping to raise the profile of research in the undergraduate curriculum.