Academic journal article Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences

The Research Resource Guide: A Description and Formative Evaluation

Academic journal article Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences

The Research Resource Guide: A Description and Formative Evaluation

Article excerpt

Engagement in research is increasingly recognized as an important experience for undergraduate students (Hu, Kuh, & Gayles, 2007), especially in family and consumer sciences (FCS) (Nickols et al., 2009). Undergraduate research is defined as "an inquiry or investigation conducted by an undergraduate student that makes an original, intellectual, or creative contribution to the discipline" (Wenzel, 2000, p. 547A). Undergraduate research is important because students who participate strengthen their intellectual development in idea formation, logical thinking, and self-directed learning (Ishiyama, 2002). In addition, students who participate in research gain confidence in research skills and are more likely to consider attending graduate school (Bauer & Bennett, 2003; Collins, HymonParker, Mitstifer, & Goff, 2010; Hathaway, Nagda, & Gregerman, 2002; Lopatto, 2004; Seymour, Hunter, Laursen, & Deantoni, 2004).

Despite the importance of undergraduate research in FCS, participation is limited due to students' lack of awareness of research and knowledge to conduct it (Leckie, 1996), lack of faculty time and expertise (Basset, 1994; Clifford, 1997; Ning, Murphy, & Jinks, 2010), and limited availability of resources that faculty can readily use (Labhard, Morris, & Hoadley, 2002; Morris & Labhard, 2005). To address these concerns, the Research Resource Guide (RRG) was developed by a team of faculty in conjunction with the USDA-funded project, "Strengthening Scientific Preparation for Students in the Human Sciences" (SciencPrep). This article describes the development of, and formative evaluation for, the RRG. The specific objectives of this article are to: (a) describe the development process and components of the RRG, and (b) determine the accuracy, appropriateness, clarity, organization, and usefulness of the RRG.


A discussion of the development of the RRG is prefaced with background material on events leading up to a perceived need for its development. The USDA-funded project SciencPrep was established in 2000 to increase the pool of qualified and diverse students for graduate study and professional roles by strengthening their scientific preparation. Projects like SciencPrep are needed because of the increasing competition for graduate school and professional placements in universities, yet limited student exposure to research, especially in historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) (Bedard & Herman, 2006; Davis, Johnson, Ralston, Fields, Young-Clark et al., 2010; Johnson, Conrad, & Pema, 2006; Karemera, Reuben, & Sillah, 2003).

Using SciencPrep as a vehicle, Florida State University (FSU) and three HBCUs, specifically Acorn State University, Fort Valley State University, and South Carolina State University, provided undergraduate students exposure to graduate education through visits to FSU (i.e., SciencPrep Showcase) and through summer research experiences (i.e., SciencPrep Research Internship) (Ralston et al., 2004). Between 2000 and 2003, 25 students participated in SciencPrep, with 100% receiving a bachelor's degree, 44% {n = 11) pursuing graduate school, and 80% {n = 20) becoming professionally employed. Furthermore, at least four students had received a master's degree and two were pursuing a doctorate.

As the project progressed, data were collected from SciencPrep Showcase students and observations were made of the SciencPrep Research Interns regarding their preparation for SciencPrep. It was noted that students often were not prepared for the research experiences and had limited prior exposure to graduate education (Ralston et ah, 2004). Given these needs, subsequent funding was received from USDA in 2004 to strengthen research capacity in the project and three additional universities were added to the collaborative to enhance access to research faculty. The additional schools included Aabama A&M University, Southern University, and the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff. …

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