Why do Undergraduate Research at Vanderbilt?

Participating in research and creative activities as an undergraduate student is a hands-on way to develop problem solving, critical thinking, and professional skills. Research extends learning beyond the classroom and allows one to deepen relationships with faculty and staff, prepare for competitive graduate programs, and develop marketable skills for future employment. Plus, there is the unique thrill of doing something completely novel, fresh, and untried in your discipline! The benefits of undergraduate research are numerous. It can positively affect the educational, professional, and personal aspects of a college student’s life. (The following lists are borrowed from Ohio State: http://undergraduateresearch.osu.edu/getstarted/whyresearch.htm)

Educational benefits include:

Working closely with a faculty mentor and other experienced researchers
Learning about issues, methods, and leaders in students’ chosen fields
Applying concepts learned in coursework to “real life” situations
Sharpening problem-solving skills
Learning to read primary literature

Professional benefits include:

Exploring and preparing for future careers
Developing marketable skills
Enhancing professional communication skills
Collaborating with others and working effectively as part of a team

Personal benefits include:

Growing as a critical, analytical, and independent thinker
Meeting challenges and demonstrating the ability to complete a project
Discovering personal interests
Developing internal standards of excellence

Below are quotes from undergraduates about what they found to be the most rewarding part of their research experience (quotes taken from VSG survey):

  • “Being part of a research group that is on the cutting edge of human knowledge and capabilities”
  • “Earning the experiences to talk about in interviews and for future job opportunities”
  • “Getting to work on something that seems really small but may have greater implications for possible treatment of certain diseases. It’s a lot of work, but in the end I enjoy going more in depth on things that I just graze over in class and am expected to regurgitate for a test.”
  • “I do research with children ages 1-4. Every second with them is rewarding.”
  • “The most rewarding components of my research were both the experience and the feeling of accomplishment.”
  • “Actively working to change something I’m interested in”
  • “Being independent and accomplishing research tasks.”
  • “Being able to design my own research project: from the question to the results”
  • “Getting to do original research, finding out things that nobody knew before I did the work”
  • “I enjoy the feeling of discovery.”
  • “Learning about interesting, unconventional, and groundbreaking material”
  • “Learning techniques that will be invaluable to me in terms of academic and research success”
  • “Meeting other people who are interested in the same things I am and figuring out how to account for different variables in human studies”