The Benefits of Undergraduate Research Assistantships in Nursing
Specific Aims: The specific aim of this study is to explore student nurses’ perceptions of the benefits of being an undergraduate research assistant. Background: Undergraduate student nurses gain benefits from collaborating with faculty as a research assistant outside of the classroom. Students can explore the faculty role of researcher through their experiences, and these experiences may encourage students to become faculty in the future. Boise State University School of Nursing (BSU SON) students have been encouraged to participate with faculty members through the Faculty-Student Research Support Initiative, funded by the DeMeyer Endowment. Through this research experience, undergraduate research assistants from BSU SON have participated in local, regional and national research conferences to present their research. However, students’ perceptions of the program have not been investigated. Methods: This study will use a mixed methods research design. Quantitative data will be collected using a survey which consists of a list of 40 potential benefits, skills, and abilities that undergraduate research assistants may experience. Qualitative data will be collected from two open-ended questions. I will contact former and current SON students by email and invite them to participate in the study using a web-based cover letter. Those interested in participating will complete an on-line Qualtrics survey. Data will be analyzed using the following statistics. Mean responses for the “achieve” and “importance” dimensions will be analyzed using descriptive statistics. A principal component, varimax rotation factor analysis will be used to analyze the 40 importance items. The relationship between both dimensions for each of the 40 items will be correlated. Qualitative content analysis will be used to analyze participants’ responses to the two open-ended questions. The themes related to students’ descriptions of the undergraduate research assistant experience will be identified. Findings: Institutional review board approval has been obtained. Data collection has begun. I anticipate having preliminary findings in time to present at the WIN Conference and BSU Undergraduate Research Conference. Significance to Nursing: This research will provide the School of Nursing with valuable information about student outcomes of the SON Faculty-Student Research Support Initiative which can be used by faculty in writing NIH R15 AREA grant proposals. The study findings could be used by other nursing education programs to develop similar projects that encourage their undergraduate students to partner with faculty in conducting research.