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The College of Education provides a unique opportunity for education undergraduates to gain research experience through the Undergraduate Research Trainee (URT) program. Through this program, which is administered by the office of the associate dean of research and faculty development, outstanding sophomores, juniors and seniors in any academic discipline work closely with a faculty member on a research project. being able to direct where my effort was concentrated,” Peters said. “As far as first-year graduate students go, I think I was ahead of the game because I had completed intro research courses as an undergrad and I actually had hands-on research experience as soon as I entered graduate school. This is a pretty rare thing. The fact that Purdue and the COE involve undergrads in faculty- level research speaks very highly of Purdue engagement.” Over the years more than 400 undergraduate students have gained valuable experience through the URT program. Another 8 will take advantage of this excellent program during the 2007-2008 academic year. In addition to providing great opportunities and experiences for hundreds of undergraduates, many faculty members have benefited as well. “The URT program gave me the skills and the knowledge to better understand and apply research to education.” The goals of the program, which began in the mid 60s, are to prepare prospective teachers as well as undergraduates with an interest in education to be participants of educational research and to develop first-rate educational research competencies. Each trainee achieves these goals through successful completion of a two-semester project. They participate in the research project by defining problems, creating materials, collecting and analyzing data, and writing reports. —Sara Flanagan

In addition to the research experience, the trainees are also prepared for educational research through the Research Methods in Education course. Through this course they learn about vital research components such as research design, data collection and analysis methods, and ethical and educational measurement issues.

The 2006-2007 URT research projects included the following diverse topics:

Positive Experience for Students

As a special education undergraduate student, Sara Flanagan, now an educational technology Master’s student, worked with Lyle Lloyd on two of his research projects. “The URT program gave me the skills and the knowledge to better understand and apply research to education. While I had always planned to go on to graduate school and research, the URT program helped to solidify my decision—I loved participating in research and learning about research methodologies,” said Flanagan.

Scott Peters, currently an educational psychology Ph.D. student who participated in the URT program while an undergraduate student studying English education, worked with Marcia Gentry on a project involving an exemplary Career and Technical Education Center. He continued this project when he began his Ph.D. program and has since published three articles.

“The opportunity to explore the field of educational research far in advance of actually having to choose it as a career path was by far the most beneficial. I also enjoyed

“Exemplary Teachers: Students’ Perspectives and Teachers’”

“Research in and Evaluation of Program Improvement and Leadership Development in Local Career and Technical Programs”

“Non-fiction book Reading with Kindergarten Students and Their Parents”

“The Scientific Literacy Project: Learning Science through Inquiry in Pre-school and Kindergarten”

“Qualitative Examination of School Counselor Psychosocial Referral Processes”

“Effects of Innovation versus Efficiency Tasks on Collaboration and Learning”

“Teaching Word-Problem Story Grammar to Enhance Mathematics Problem Solving”

“CabIE2 – Case based Instruction in Engineering Education”

college of education magazine FALL 2007

Faculty benefit As Well

“I have enjoyed the immediate benefit of having an apprentice who was interested in my research agenda,” said Youli Mantzicopoulos, professor of educational psychology. “Other important, though less tangible, benefits are associated with the satisfaction that comes from the opportunity to contribute to the scholarly development of young, enthusiastic and committed students. Since the program is open to students with an interest in education across different colleges and schools at Purdue, I have had the pleasure of working with URTs from psychology, English, speech/audiology, child development, mathematics, and science. It’s been tremendous to spark their interest in research and then to hear of their accomplishments over time, as many sought advanced degrees in education or education-related fields.”

Four Teacher Education students were selected to represent Purdue at the 2007 Indiana Association of Colleges for Teacher Education Outstanding Future Educators Conference that was held on April 13, 2007:

  • Rebecca Arthur, elementary education

  • Elizabeth Hacker, mathematics education

  • Brooke Peck, elementary education

  • Eric Schmidt, mathematics education

Impacting Skills and Attitudes

Offering the Undergraduate Research Trainee program greatly impacts an undergraduate’s skills and attitudes regarding educational research—80% of participants go on to graduate school where they put their skills to work.

Flanagan remarked, “The URT program opened the doors for my future in research and higher education. It taught me the foundational information and gave me beginning research that I can now apply towards my research in my masters’ degree and in the future.”

Learn more

Contact Youili Mantzicopoulos, professor of educational psychology, at mantz@purdue.edu or 765-494-7247.



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