Below is a collection of strategies that OSU mentors have been using to keep their undergraduates engaged in research while working remotely. As we continue to navigate working either remotely or hybrid, you can find tools to continue engaging your students in undergraduate research.
This term I have 1 URSA and 2 other undergraduate students working in my lab. My lab is focused on bioinformatics analysis and building databases for plant pathways in silico. Fortunately, I had one month to directly work with the students and was able to introduce them to tools and protocols we use for collecting information and analyzing genomic data. The students now work remotely and I review their work weekly and have one-to-one meetings with them every week.
1) Weekly General Group Meetings (about 18 people via Zoom)
2) Weekly subgroup meetings
3) Keeping in touch via email with individuals that have questions about courses, internships, life, etc. Each is in somewhat of a different headspace and need a bit more encouragement.
4) URSA Engage (I have 6 and 1 Stem Leader) – what are each of them choosing to do with their internship. I’ve always had them keep weekly Journals and I’m encouraging them to continue that.
I have a mix of students working on robotics-rDelated projects. We were meeting regularly before the shut down, so we have now just shifted to everyone’s favorite, ZOOM. We’ve shifted students from the human-subjects study gathering to what was going to be the next stage - modeling the data captured in Unity & ROS. So they’re all learning new software tools. Where possible we just mailed/shipped all the parts they’re working with home to them, and bought things like soldering irons where we needed to. And we have shifted a lot to more detailed human subjects to study design protocols.
Summer student working from U. Puerto Rico (Physics) in the CEOAS REU program led by Kaplan Yalcin. What was supposed to be a summer field experiment instead became a remote-work numerical modeling project on nearshore ocean hydrodynamics, which turned out very well. See J. Lerczak's notes on the CEOAS REU remote program, whose structure helped a lot.
This term I have 3 URSA students working on helping me launch a new project -- Language, Culture and Knowledge-building through science (LaCuKnoS). The project has 3 main components at this point - sample curriculum development to demonstrate how the LaCuKnoS model can be integrated into K-12 science curriculum, research instrument revisions for studying project implementation, and overall project work plan development, timelines, etc. While we were planning to pilot activities through OSU Pre-College Programs (which cannot happen now), we can still move all three of these components forward through weekly Zoom lab meetings and individual zoom meetings.
We shifted our student researchers to a different but related project where the data was already collected since remote work presented barriers to gathering data from participants via interviews. They are now analyzing and writing a report with that existing data. We meet with the students weekly via Zoom, and they send us a weekly update via email that includes: project progress in the past week, one thing they learned, one question or think they are wondering about.
We have 1 URSA student working to “fill gaps” in Wikipedia about women in STEM. Please, have students edit Wikipedia - articles need improving. Have them take their topic and make a list of articles in Wikipedia that relate to their topic. Then identify the weaknesses in those articles and fix/add. If you have questions, please contact me, I’m happy to help. [email protected]
This term I have 15 undergraduate students in my research lab. We meet via Zoom every Wednesday and they each have been assigned to different projects all being conducted online. I have about four different online studies in which we will collect data this term. I created a number of different tasks for them to master. These involve literature review, writing different parts of a research paper, data analysis, and study design.
I am currently working with three students on various projects. I meet with each student at least once a week over Zoom and also had each of them make a Trello board so I could monitor their progress throughout the week. Their projects are as follows:
In 1991, Stull, Christina, & Quinn published a paper titled Accuracy of References in Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport (RQES). I read this article in a graduate scientific writing course that I took, and I never forgot it. I’ve always thought that it’s an important topic. It’s always been on my mind to complete an updated study of the 1991 paper. I’m working with an undergraduate student to assist with verifying the references for the follow-up project.
We are taking advantage of this time to analyze and organize data, write down protocols and catch up with the literature. The students are compiling all of their results in a PowerPoint document to present later on, analyzing all of the data they have put together, making figures with that data, and reading assigned papers. They are also writing down their protocols and uploading everything into our Box Lab shared folder. We have lab meeting and individual meetings once a week, and one of the students presents a paper of their choice related to their project during the lab meeting. Four of them are taking advantage of this time to write whatever they can for their honors thesis.
The lab has several students who are doing remote projects for URSA this spring. The students meet with project supervisors over zoom weekly and are encouraged to attend weekly lab meetings on zoom.
My students do computational research, so it’s pretty easy to work online. We meet using Zoom and students either ssh into my group computers or just run simulations on their own computer.
Do you have remote or virtual mentoring strategies that you think would be useful for others? Send them to us at [email protected]!