Reciprocal elucidation: A student-led pedagogy in multidisciplinary undergraduate research conferences

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Walkington, H. ; Hill, J. ; Kneale, P. (2016)

There is no previous study of the benefits of attending a national multidisciplinary conference dedicated to undergraduate researchers, despite the growing number of such conferences internationally. This paper addresses the gap in knowledge of the learning gains from these conferences, and reveals a student driven learning process, a multidisciplinary signature pedagogy. . It presents the results of 90 in depth interviews with student conference participants conducted over three consecutive years of a multidisciplinary National Conference of Undergraduate Research (2012 - 2014). This paper uniquely captures the student voice on their perceived learning gains from this experience. The results reveal that some students co-create a pedagogy of Foucauldian reciprocal elucidation, through a sense of ‘unfinishedness’, allowing them to reflect on their own learning in the light of divergent perspectives, questions and frames of reference. Bidirectional exchange of ideas and insights enabled students to ask and answer questions that transformed each other’s thinking, allowing them to arrive at understandings they could not have achieved by themselves. The opportunity to present research in an authentic setting beyond disciplinary and institutional contexts developed students’ skills and confidence, giving additional value over and above the recognised benefits of engaging in research. The undergraduate research conference is framed as a threshold experience for the development of self-authorship. Significant implications for practice include supporting constructive dialogues between students and the creation of authentic and professional multidisciplinary contexts for sharing research.
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