Publications and Presentations from the Center’s Research Seminars

Democratic Thinking












Mentoring Undergraduate Research




Hill, Jennifer Walkington, Helen (2016). Developing Graduate Attributes through Participation in Undergraduate Research Conferences. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 40(2), 222-237. https://doi.org/10.1080/03098265.2016.1140128

This article examines students’ experiences at a national undergraduate research conference in an effort to understand the development of graduate attributes, which are the framework of skills, attitudes, values and knowledge that graduates ought to have developed by the end of their degrees. The research takes a largely qualitative approach, using semi-structured interviews to collect data. The authors explain that research on graduate attributes is relevant because there is a growing, international conversation about the purpose and characteristics of higher education, and that it is becoming ever more important for institutions to justify their social roles to students. This article focuses on a case study of 22 Geography, Earth and Environmental Science (GEES) graduates, and forms part of a larger study on interdisciplinary graduate attributes. Additionally, the authors split the attributes they analyzed into five categories: communication; research and inquiry skills; personal and intellectual autonomy; ethical, social, and professional understanding; and information literacy. Notably, the authors found that the conference provided a safe and supportive, while also challenging, context for students to develop these skills. This research highlights the importance of opportunities to develop such skills outside of formal disciplinary curricula.


Hill, Jennifer Walkington, Helen France, Derek (2016). Graduate attributes: implications for higher education practice and policy. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 40(2), 155-163. https://doi.org/10.1080/03098265.2016.1154932

This article offers an overview of existing higher education literature on and attitudes towards the development of graduate attributes, while introducing the papers which comprised a symposium on this research context. One issue the authors discuss is the extent of the connection between what academic staff set up for students in terms of skill development and how much students actually experience. The authors also note the importance of students accepting agency in the process of developing their own graduate attributes, rather than letting the system determine their identities. In their conclusion, the authors emphasize that regardless of inconsistencies in teaching and assessing graduate attributes, they play a valuable role in enhancing learning and connecting learning to work beyond students’ academic careers.



Ketcham, Caroline J Hall, Eric E Miller, Paul C (2017). Co-Mentoring Undergraduate Research: Student, Faculty and Institutional Perspectives. Perspectives on Undergraduate Research and Mentoring, 6(1), . http://blogs.elon.edu/purm/files/2017/10/final_Ketcham-Hall-Miller_main.pdf

This article outlines the benefits and challenges of co-mentoring for students, faculty mentors, and institutions. The authors themselves have several years of experience co-mentoring undergraduate research projects, and offer insights they have gained through those projects. The authors present the co-mentoring model they have developed and a practical guide to co-mentoring, incorporating salient practices of mentoring undergraduate research. In their conclusion, the authors note that a lot of work needs to happen to foster co-mentoring relationships, but if that happens, they can be extremely beneficial to all involved parties. 


Kneale, Pauline Edwards-Jones, Andrew Walkington, Helen Hill, Jennifer (2016). Evaluating undergraduate research conferences as vehicles for novice researcher development. International Journal for Researcher Development, 7(2), 159-177. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJRD-10-2015-0026

This paper assesses the significance of participation in undergraduate research conferences on students’ attitudes and professional development, including the development of graduate attributes. The paper positions the undergraduate research conference as an authentic learning context using the theory of situated learning. The authors interviewed 90 undergraduate students at research conferences, and analyzed their responses using the Researcher Development Framework. Students reported that paper presentations, poster presentations, and the overall conference experience were particularly valuable to their skill development. Two of these skills were public engagement and communication, which the authors note are routinely sought after by employers. The authors also offered some suggestions to conference organizers in order to maximize skill development, including providing dedicated networking time within the program. 



Nicholson, Brittany A Pollock, Meagen Ketcham, Caroline J Fitz Gibbon, Heather M Bradley, Evan D Bata, Michelle (2017). Beyond the Mentor-Mentee Model: A Case for Multi-Mentoring in Undergraduate Research. Perspectives on Undergraduate Research and Mentoring, 6(1), . http://blogs.elon.edu/purm/files/2017/10/Nicholson_et_al_6.1.pdf

In this paper, the authors argue that multi-mentoring can be applied in a global, interdisciplinary context to undergraduate research, and make the case for moving beyond the traditional one-to-one model as the default for inquiry into undergraduate research practices. The paper includes descriptions of relevant multi-mentoring and co-mentoring models, and offers suggestions for implementing multi- and co-mentoring practices to advance the undergraduate experience. In their conclusion, the authors note that institutions will need to assist faculty mentors in overcoming some of the challenges that accompany starting out with multi-mentoring. 





Shanahan, Jenny Olin Walkington, Helen Ackley, Elizabeth Hall, Eric E. Stewart, Kearsley A. (2017). Award-Winning Mentors See Democratization as the Future of Undergraduate Research. CUR Quarterly, 37(4), 4-11. https://doi.org/10.18833/curq/37/4/14

In this article, the authors set out to identify likely future trends for undergraduate research (UR) in the next five to ten years. This research is important for the field because it can help faculty and administrators consider how they plan to allocate resources to ensure equitable and high-quality UR mentoring in the future. The authors conducted a literature review and interviews with faculty who have won awards for their commitment to and expertise of UR. Their two main findings are as follows. First, UR will likely see greater democratization in terms of greater access to opportunities for students from historically-underserved groups, students from nontraditional populations, and students with average academic performance histories. And second, mentor-mentee relationships are expected to strengthen across national and international borders as online communication capacities continue to advance. Curricula redesigns that incorporate inquiry-based learning may also facilitate greater participation in UR. 




Walkington, Helen Hill, Jennifer Kneale, Pauline E. (2016). Reciprocal elucidation: a student-led pedagogy in multidisciplinary undergraduate research conferences. Higher Education Research and Development, 36(2), 416-429. https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360.2016.1208155

This article investigates the benefits of attending a multidisciplinary research conference as an undergraduate researcher, focusing on student voices and self-perceptions of learning and skill development. The authors conducted 90 interviews with student conference participants over the course of three years, and found that the opportunity to present research in a setting outside of institutional or disciplinary contexts bolstered student researchers’ development of skills and confidence. The authors frame the undergraduate research conference as a threshold experience for self-authorship development, and thus such conferences are much more than just a space to present research findings. They also found that students who presented at conferences often reported a sense of unfinishedness, which challenges academics to consider ways to bring comparable experiences into the classroom, to provide space for students to develop knowledge through reciprocal dialogue. 


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