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Building an undergraduate computer science research experience

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2 Author(s)

Many educators have noted the benefits of providing undergraduate students a research experience including increased retention, greater interest in graduate school, and an enhanced educational experience. Different approaches and guidelines have been proposed to accommodate the constraints of working with undergraduate students such as lack of academic maturity, limited student time, and a less developed knowledge base. In our Computer Science program, we have attempted to integrate various aspects of a general approach to research in courses throughout the major. Students get more in-depth exposure and practice in conducting elements of research as they progress through the major. The experience is culminated in two senior-level activities with major research components. In these activities, students are faced with ill-defined problems requiring extensive background investigation and must develop a unique idea to implement, analyze, and formally report on. This paper will describe the general research approach taught, how students are introduced to various aspects of the approach in their courses, and the senior-level experiences in detail with specific examples. The paper concludes with our experience regarding the effectiveness of this approach in providing a research experience.

Published in:

Frontiers in Education Conference, 2009. FIE '09. 39th IEEE

Date of Conference:

18-21 Oct. 2009