Hundreds of students are currently preparing for one of Bridgewater State University’s most popular academic events.
On April 25, students from many different majors and classes will all be presenting their research in front of other students and faculty, and will get to discuss the work that they have been spending months on.
These students have worked hard to develop their own research and are able to represent BSU at the state and national levels of undergraduate research.
Bridgewater State University has risen to the top in the field of undergraduate research, with over 1200 students participating every year in the on-campus research symposiums, according to an article on the BSU website.
Many of the students who present at the Mid-Year Symposium or the Student Arts and Research Symposium move on to present at the state level, like at the Honors Conference at UMASS Amherst, or even at the national level, which many BSU students have been able to do over the years.
On April 2, presentations take place all day from 8:30 a.m. to 7:15 p.m. in Moakley, Hart, and Burnell halls.
Students are assigned a designated time slot, which usually last either 50 or 75 minutes. Students, faculty, and the public can walk in between projects, ask questions, or sit in on an oral, musical, or theatrical presentation.
Presenters have the option of presenting in a number of different formats. The two most popular are poster and oral presentations, but students can also present their artwork in the form of a theatrical piece, musical performance, or an artistic work.
The Mid-Year Symposium in December and the Student Arts and Research Symposium in April are both run by the Office of Undergraduate Research, which also gives out grants for students to complete their research.
There are four options for student grants, which are semester grants, student opportunities as apprentice researchers, the Adrian Tinsley Program summer grants, and conference travel grants. These four grant programs all give money to students to complete their research, which can include supplies, travel, or paying students to spend time on research instead of having a summer job. Many of the students presenting on April 25 have received these grants and will be talking about their findings.
The Office of Undergraduate Research provides these grants so that money does not get in the way of a student following their academic passion and curiosity.
Teresa King, director of the Honors Program, works closely with many students who present at the Symposium, specifically honors students looking to present their senior theses.
“Honors students are required to present their thesis orally and many of them choose to present it at the Student Arts and Research Symposium held in April every year. Other honors students choose to present at a regional conference or even a national conference such as the annual meeting of the National Collegiate Honors Council,” says King.
Many classes, especially many honors classes, also require students to present a research project at the December and April symposiums as part of the classwork.
Presenting at one of BSU’s symposium, students are able to become experts on an area of study that interests them, which developing relationships with other presenters and faculty mentors.
When asked about the benefits of presenting research at a research symposium, King replied that “the benefits…are substantial and well documented. Not only do students gain confidence by presenting academic work, they actually begin to see themselves as scholars. This change in self perception is really important as it translates into these students being more likely than those who do not present to stay in college and graduate. That is why we have integrated presenting at the Mid-Year Symposium into the Honors first year seminar experience.”
By preparing students for professional presentations in the work-place, even starting at the freshman level, students become accustomed to presenting in front of crowds and are able to develop their public speaking skills while gaining a greater knowledge on a certain subject matter.
With any questions about un-dergraduate research, contact the director of the Office of Undergraduate Research, Dr. Jenny Shanahan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Samantha Correia is a staff writer for The Comment.