The Students as Researchers scheme is a fantastic opportunity for our undergraduate students to gain valuable skills, knowledge and experiences. Beginning in 2011/2012, it has given students the opportunity to undertake a range of research activities alongside academic staff as paid research assistants on a variety of authentic discipline and pedagogic research projects.
The scheme is designed to develop learners as co-creators, rather than consumers of knowledge, by developing their research skills. The student researcher roles are of particular interest and value to anyone considering a postgraduate degree and/or working in a research field or in academia. Additionally, participating students develop and enhance a number of transferable skills – such as working independently and working in a team, time management, planning, etc. – which will benefit them in their post-University careers.
Taking part is mutually-beneficial for the student and the academic participants. The project leads benefit from hours of assistance in designing, preparing, conducting and analysing research in their chosen field. Student researchers make possible work which may otherwise have not been conducted by sharing the workload, their knowledge and their insights.
The process begins with a call for research proposals, staff briefing workshops and individual support for members of staff who wish to take part. Once proposals have been submitted, their suitability is considered by a panel of Learning and Teaching and Research experts. Recruitment is based on individual interviews, which gives students an additional formative opportunity to develop their skills. Whether successful or not, students are given detailed feedback which is designed to improve their interview and application skills and enhance their employability.
Once appointed, our student researchers are invited to an induction and given an overview of their role, their responsibilities and what they can expect from the scheme. The project lead and the student researcher then work together, planning and dividing the project appropriately.
At the end of the project students write a short reflective report, which provides an outline of the project, the student researcher’s role and their reflections on what they learned. Students are asked to consider how they participated in the development of practice, process and/or knowledge. Student researchers are also actively encouraged to present their work at conferences, particularly at the LTE conferences, such as the Promoting Teaching Excellence conference 26 and 27 June 2017.
The next call for proposals will be in the 2017/18 academic year.