An introduction from Professor Suzanne Cholerton
Newcastle University places a high value on students pursuing new knowledge, developing independence of thought, and being exposed to the culture of research. The University supports undergraduate students with scholarships to work alongside researchers on summer vacation projects and, through its Expeditions scheme, to undertake field research in other countries. Both these schemes enable students to experience research-led learning and to develop key skills.
A Research Scholarship can cover a wide range of activities, such as researching new archival material in Newcastle or further afield, working on archaeological material, collecting, analysing and interpreting social data or working on a laboratory project alongside members of a research team.
Conducting independent research alongside more experienced researchers can have a very positive impact on the confidence and motivation of students. By giving students the opportunity to work closely with staff on research projects, Research Scholarships enable students to understand the research activities of their teachers, and to have a window on the research environment. Conducting research work in the field gives students opportunity to plan, organise and execute research projects in challenging and unfamiliar environments.
Whatever the domain of activity, a Research Scholarship provides an opportunity for students to find out what research is like, to develop research and problem solving skills and to engage in enquiry based learning. The production of a poster at the end of the project helps to develop presentational skills and underline the importance of being able to communicate research findings to a variety of audiences.
For some students the experience of working on a ‘live’ research project will stimulate or confirm an interest in postgraduate research, for others it will be a way of integrating knowledge, enhancing the learning experience and developing valuable professional skills.
I hope that all of the students who were successful in gaining a Research Scholarship or Expedition funding will have benefited from their experience through an enhanced understanding of the value of research, and an increased confidence in their research and professional skills.