Are you interested in research? Do you want to continue on to graduate school with some research experience in the cognitive field?
In a competitive environment such as the University of Rochester, I often hear undergraduates complaining about wanting to do research but not knowing how to go about that area.
It’s my belief that students/professionals/anyone involved in the cognitive field can learn most when they get involved with research, so I’d like to introduce to you BCS 206/207, a class I’ve been involved with for the past two years.
This two-semester sequence of BCS 206 and 207 concentrates on undergraduate research in the cognitive field.
During the first semester of the class, students are broken up into small groups, each headed by a BCS faculty mentor, and assigned to replicate a published study. These replications involve every aspect of the research process: creating an experimental setup, collecting data, and presenting findings. During the second semester in BCS 207, the groups add a new aspect to their research that the original researchers had not tested.
More information: How is the class structured?
An important theme that shaped the formation of this course was the idea that replicating published studies has increasingly become an important aspect in the cognitive field. The reason being that it allows us in the field of cognitive sciences to verify the authenticity of the findings, because certain findings may result due to a certain environment, etc. As a scientific community, we should take note of what worked, what didn’t work, why it didn’t work, or why it worked in certain conditions, to make sure that findings are solid.
This idea of replicating published studies is not only important for professionals in the field, but also to students. Though it sounds trivial, this is a good way for researchers to learn about the methods and procedures that were used for past research, and the reasoning behind the usage of those methods. The act of replication is also very instructive, and this is especially true for young students. The research allows the students to actually try out the methods incorporated in studies, and ties into my belief that students learn best when they “get their hands dirty” in research.