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Department

Faculty of Arts, Directed Studies

Faculty Advisor

Tina Block and Ginny Ratsoy

Abstract

In this paper, I will explore the effects of experiential undergraduate research and subsequent conference participation on my self-identity as a scholar and contributing member of the university community and its surrounding urban centre. In particular, I will examine the impact that participation in undergraduate research and conferences has had on my perception of student engagement and learning outcomes. For the past forty years, extensive research into the goals of undergraduate education has generated much discussion about student retention, student engagement in the process, and learner outcomes. The consensus appears to be that independent undergraduate research is an essential component to providing a comprehensive education in conjunction with traditional lecture hall and seminar session teaching practices. A review of research literature written by faculty members and undergraduate students in diverse disciplines, as well as by administrators providing support and program underpinnings for innovative undergraduate research, reveals several common threads within post-secondary institutions. As well, I will analyze how my particular research projects and the dissemination of my findings connected my two communities: Thompson Rivers University (TRU) and the small city of Kamloops. The opportunity to disseminate the research process and subsequent findings of my research to undergraduate students in-class and to students, faculty and the general public at two undergraduate conferences held annually at TRU intertwine the history of our small city with the academic community of the university, thus emphasizing the symbiotic relationship between the two. Community-based undergraduate research, in particular, oral history research, reveals the voices of people engaged in the building of the Kamloops community, thus connecting stories of personal accomplishment to the sphere of academia within our small city. Reflective consideration from an undergraduate student’s perspective on research and conference presentation will add to the knowledge-base of student engagement in research, the learning outcomes of the conference forum, and the impact of community research within and outside of the university campus.

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