Undergraduates in natural history collections: What are the educational gains and how can we make the experience more impactful?

TitleUndergraduates in natural history collections: What are the educational gains and how can we make the experience more impactful?
Publication TypePresentation
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsMonfils, Anna, and Ellis Shari
KeywordsSmall Collections Symposium SPNHC 2014
AbstractFor small collections, undergraduate students constitute the major workforce utilized to curate collections and facilitate digitization. With the influx of funds from national digitization efforts, more undergraduates are being incorporated into large-scale digitization efforts. The goals of this study were 1) to determine the impact collections based experiences are having on the students’ understanding of the nature of science, and 2) assess how collection-based employment and/or research is impacting the students’ undergraduate experience, and/or future career plans.Two surveys were conducted: a curator survey of natural history curators managing undergraduate workers and an undergraduate survey of students working in those collections. Student questions were derived from the SURE III: Survey of Undergraduate Research Experiences and the URSSA: Undergraduate Research Student Self-Assessment. Results from 167 curators and 258 students reveal undergraduates working in collections are performing high order and critical curatorial tasks. Student responses indicate work in the collections contributes to understanding of core science concepts and influences course selection, choice of major and post-graduate plans. This study provides documentation that students are gaining significant educational and professional rewards from working in natural history collections. In light of the student gains from collections- based experiences, specific and applicable suggestions will be introduced to enhance the undergraduate experience
URLhttps://www.idigbio.org/wiki/images/5/51/Monfils_SPNHC_2014.pdf