For the past two years much of Alexis Benjamin’s time has been committed to the undergraduate research project she worked on with Communication and Journalism Department faculty member Nicole Schultz and fellow student Erin Hanson.
Despite the time commitment to the project, Benjamin, an organizational communication major, said the experience has been among the best of her undergraduate career.
Benjamin and Hanson didn’t know each other before starting work on the project, which focuses on integrative learning, but now are close friends, Benjamin said. Two weeks ago the duo presented their findings at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research at Eastern Washington University. They have also presented at CERCA.
Through their research, the team looked at sections of one class — CJ/WMNS 111: Gender, Race, & Class-The Social Construction of Identity — over the course of four semesters to see how well the students performed integrative learning.
The first year of the project, the team focused on seeing how well freshmen students performed. Benjamin said they performed up to par for the most part so the team decided to look at different cohorts.
This year was spent looking at those different cohorts. Results show upperclassmen and honor students performed better than freshman students did in integrative learning.
Based on their findings the team will present a model for general education reform, which includes integrative learning to the university.
“Different cohorts performed at different levels. Depending on how they performed we proposed a model that the university uses to implement integrative learning,” Benjamin said.
Benjamin first got involved with a project after clicking with Schultz freshman year. She will graduate this semester and has a job lined up as a district manager for ALDI in the Twin Cities. Despite finishing up her undergraduate career, Benjamin said she hopes to see the research published someday. A task Schultz will work on after Benjamin and Hanson graduate.
“I think that it has added a lot to my resume to apply to jobs,” she said. “I can talk a lot about being a researcher, me being able to present in front of large audiences and also networking with people.”
Benjamin said her advice to other students looking to get in to research is being sure your topic is something you’re passionate about.
In what ways should integrative learning be a part of the undergraduate experience?