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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 13 Issue 6 (2008) pp 381-391

Undergraduate Research in Chemistry: A Comparison of Two Narratives

Holly Hinkhouse,1 Dawn Del Carlo,* and Leah Isbell2

1Riverside High School 501 Oakland Avenue, Oakland, IA 51560, *University of Northern Iowa, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Cedar Falls, IA, 50614,, 2Gilbert High School, 103 Mathews Dr., Gilbert, IA 50105
Received January 23, 2008. Accepted June 6, 2008.

Published online: 1 December 2008

Abstract. While the benefits of undergraduate research in science have long been anecdotally touted by practicing scientists, empirical evidence has only recently begun to be reported. This paper contributes to the growing body of research by examining the undergraduate summer research experiences of two students majoring in chemistry. This study utilizes methodologies consistent with a phenomenological framework including open-ended electronic journal entries and semi-structured interviews. The students had similar prior experiences however, when they were analyzed side by side as narratives, it was found that they perceived their overall research experience to be very different. Factors that contributed to these differences include the studentís motivation to do research, ideas about available resources, and the perceptions of what constitutes success. Ultimately, these differences contributed to the studentsí future academic and career plans.

Key Words: Of Special Interest; STEM

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

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Issue date: December 1, 2008

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