NHCC was a pioneer in offering undergraduate research to community college students. Undergraduate research allows students to work closely with a faculty member to generate or discover new information in a particular field. The scholarly projects have proven to be an effective mechanism to enhance hands-on learning, discovery, collaboration, critical thinking and engagement.
Projects can take many forms such as field or laboratory research, interviewing, writing, archiving, art and even interpretive plays, and also include:
- Mentorship - student work is done in collaboration with the faculty.
- Originality - the work generated is original to student.
- Acceptable Methods - generally accepted methods of creation used in academic discipline.
- Result Dissemination - the work needs to be in a final form to be shared and reviewed by others.
Our students have engaged in undergraduate research in biology, chemistry, and geology and made multiple research presentations at conferences in 5 states (MN, WI, NE, and IN). The conferences include the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, Geological Society of America Regional Meeting, American Chemical Society Regional Meeting, Midwest Ecology and Evolution Conference, Minnesota Academy of Science Winchell Symposium, University of Minnesota Undergraduate Research Conference, Society of Wetland Scientists, and St. Mary's University Research Symposium. Students have received awards from the American Chemical Society and have also secured internships at the University of Minnesota and other prestigious research institutions.
As a result of participation in undergraduate research, students view themselves as competent and capable members of the scientific community and imagine themselves more clearly as professionals in their desired field. Students have reported immediately pursuing research experiences when they transfer to four-year institutions and doing so with confidence and knowledge of the process from beginning to end. Furthermore, Minnesota employers indicate that these are the skills that future employees need in order to be successful in the workplace.