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ASU Study Finds Lab Environment Essential To Student Researcher Retention

By Nicholas Gerbis
Published: Monday, August 19, 2019 - 10:28am
Updated: Monday, August 19, 2019 - 1:55pm

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Undergraduate students work in an ASU neuroscience lab
Samantha Lloyd/ASU VisLab
Undergraduate students work in an ASU neuroscience lab.

Participating in research can foster critical thinking skills in college students and help pave the way for careers in science, technology, engineering and math. But a large percentage of undergraduates drop out of such programs.

A group of 14 Arizona State University undergraduates conducted a study to find out why. The research appears in the journal PLOS ONE.

Of the more than 750 life sciences students surveyed at 25 public institutions, 50% had considered leaving their undergraduate research, and more than half of those did.

Respondents who remained in research cited a positive lab and social environment, flexible work schedules and the feeling that they were enjoying and learning from their research as important factors in retention.

The researcher were part of ASU's LEAP Scholars program, a four-semester scholarship program funded by the National Science Foundation to help community college transfer students get involved in undergraduate science research. LEAP stands for Learning, Entering, Advising and Producing research.

LEAP Scholar students
Arizona State University
LEAP Scholar students present their research findings on undergraduate persistence in a research lab at a spring School of Life Sciences Undergraduate Research Symposium.