Research Club Inspires Future Investigators What is research? In a small classroom in early January 2004 five students discussed the answer to this question, shared areas of interest, and learned about ASHA journals. It was the beginning of the School of Hearing, Speech, and Language Sciences (SHSLS) Undergraduate Research Club (URC) at Ohio University. The ... Academic Edge
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Academic Edge  |   May 01, 2005
Research Club Inspires Future Investigators
Author Notes
  • Sally Marinellie, is assistant professor in the School of Hearing, Speech, and Language Sciences at Ohio University. Her research is focused on school-age language development/disorders, and language skills related to literacy development. Contact her at marinels@ohio.edu.
    Sally Marinellie, is assistant professor in the School of Hearing, Speech, and Language Sciences at Ohio University. Her research is focused on school-age language development/disorders, and language skills related to literacy development. Contact her at marinels@ohio.edu.×
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / School-Based Settings / Research Issues, Methods & Evidence-Based Practice / Professional Issues & Training / Academic Edge
Academic Edge   |   May 01, 2005
Research Club Inspires Future Investigators
The ASHA Leader, May 2005, Vol. 10, 4-27. doi:10.1044/leader.AE1.10062005.4
The ASHA Leader, May 2005, Vol. 10, 4-27. doi:10.1044/leader.AE1.10062005.4
What is research?
In a small classroom in early January 2004 five students discussed the answer to this question, shared areas of interest, and learned about ASHA journals. It was the beginning of the School of Hearing, Speech, and Language Sciences (SHSLS) Undergraduate Research Club (URC) at Ohio University.
The club was inspired by two factors. First, the doctoral shortage in communication sciences and disorders will require that students become interested and excited about research early in their career. Second, many undergraduate students want to learn more about and become more involved in research, but are not aware of how to pursue these interests. To meet these needs, I developed the URC as an informal club in which students could explore their research interests in a stress-free and enjoyable manner. The mission of the club was to increase undergraduate students’ interest and appreciation in research.
I anticipated one small group of students per quarter would be interested in the club, yet the club would grow to over 40 students in several different sections, including beginner, intermediate, and advanced sections. Doctoral students Yen-Ling Chan, Michelle O’Malley, and Lollie Vaughan have run beginner sections. I run the intermediate and advanced sections, but will soon have doctoral students take over the intermediate groups. A second-year master’s student, Krystal Spires, has facilitated beginner sections and played a key role in establishing the club. Each section meets for an hour each week during each academic quarter.
Activities in the beginner sections include a presentation/discussion of several possible areas of interest in speech-language pathology and audiology, discussion of faculty research areas, introduction to ASHA journals, informational retrieval strategies, how to read a research article in an area of interest, introduction to research equipment/software, and how to get involved in research as an undergraduate. The last few weeks of each academic quarter are spent visiting faculty research labs. The faculty researcher provides a short presentation on his or her area of research, describes and presents information on lab equipment, and discusses current research projects. Students are encouraged to ask questions about running a research lab.
Students in the intermediate sections delve more into their area of interest and are guided through the research process. By the end of a quarter each student has designed a research experiment that may be pursued in the future as a senior or master’s thesis. Students in the advanced sections of the club know how to find and evaluate research articles and possess an understanding and appreciation of the research process. As such, they are ready to be exposed to a variety of research areas, methodologies, subject populations, and theories/models that contribute to evidence-based practice in speech-language pathology and audiology. This is accomplished by reading an article every week written by a faculty member in the SHSLS and then having the opportunity to discuss that article with the author.
Preparing Tomorrow’s Researchers
Every undergraduate student who joins and participates on a weekly basis in the URC is considered a success of the club. Some students, however, have been inspired to go beyond club expectations. For example, Jackie Strauss is conducting a senior thesis on the topic of the effects of sentence length versus sentence complexity on comprehension in school-age children. Jackie received a Provost Undergraduate Research Fund award for her work in this area. According to Jackie, “I have become so excited and enthusiastic about research that I am considering a future career as a researcher.”
Lindsay James, who is also conducting a senior thesis, says that “participating in URC has given me an opportunity unlike any offered in the classroom. For the first time in college, I have had the chance to freely choose my topic of interest, research it, and ask questions.” Senior Ashley Freehauf states, “The club has given me the tools to get current information about speech-language pathology and to better understand the direction in which the field is going.”
Support for the Club
College of Health and Human Services Dean Gary Neiman enthusiastically supports the Club. According to Neiman, “The initiative to interest undergraduates in research careers is critical to sustaining the pipeline of scholars not only in communication sciences and disorders, but in a host of health-related disciplines. We applaud these efforts and hope that other academic programs will consider similar activities.”
Brooke Hallowell, director of the SHSLS and associate dean for Research and Sponsored Programs in the College of Health and Human Services, said that “providing such exploratory opportunities for undergraduates in a supportive and collegial environment helps to inspire consideration of further research involvement for students who may otherwise not have considered getting involved in research.”
While the URC has been successful and student evaluations have been very positive, the club is still in its infancy. Plans include expanding to more sections, encouraging more freshmen and sophomores to join, linking the club to the Introduction to Research course, electing student officers, and searching for funding. Additional plans also include developing effective communications by having a newsletter, a forum for publishing members’ club experiences and accomplishments, and links to other undergraduate research clubs/programs at other universities. With the current doctoral shortage in communication sciences and disorders, the scholars of today must continue to devise effective methods to develop new investigators who will be leaders of research in our fields tomorrow.
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FROM THIS ISSUE
May 2005
Volume 10, Issue 6