Structuring the Student Research Experience
The benefits of working in a research group are clear: students develop domain expertise, gain an understanding and appreciation of the research process and its practice, and acquire team, communication, problem-solving, and higher-level thinking skills. Students with this experience are better equipped to make informed judgments about technical matters and to communicate and work in teams to solve complex problems. However, it is difficult to provide a quality experience to large numbers of students, particularly to students of differing abilities.The Systems and Software Engineering Affinity Research Group model provides a socialization mechanism and infrastructure that supports the development and management of large research groups that engage undergraduate and graduate students, who have a wide range of skill levels and experiences, in research and projects. This non-hierarchical model integrates students into both small research groups and an encompassing large research group, and uses structured activities to develop their research, technical, communication, and group skills.In this paper we introduce the model and report how the model meets independently developed Best Practice guidelines for student research experiences and we provide indicators of success for use by other projects.