Summer Undergraduate Research Experience


Research consistently identifies several critical elements for an effective undergraduate research experience. According to Lopatto (2009) “…good research programs should have a reasonable scope, be feasible, generate data that the student can present, not simply consist of cook book experiments, have built‐in difficulties that will be faced after the student has developed some confidence, and be multifaceted.” (p. 17). Informed by faculty across multiple institutions, Lopatto (2003) created the following list of essential elements of a summer research program (Lopatto, 2003, p. 25)

  • Students should read scientific literature.
  • Students should design some aspect of the project; students should have an opportunity to design and conduct the research; opportunities should exist for the student’s ingenuity and creativity.
  • Students should work independently (of faculty) and have an opportunity to work on a team (of peers); establish a mentoring partnership between a student and faculty.
  • Students should feel ownership of the project; there should be increased independence in the daily routine and problem solving.
  • Students should use careful and reproducible lab techniques; there should be a mastery of the techniques necessary to the research.
  • Students should have an opportunity for oral communication.
  • Students should have an opportunity for written communication.
  • Students should have a meaningful or focused research question.
  • Faculty should provide some structure to the experience.
  • Students should strive to produce a significant finding.
  • There should be a good (state of the art) environment.
  • Students should have an opportunity for attendance at professional meeting.
  • Student should earn credit or pay.

Research also shows that the availability and accessibility of the faculty mentor are valued by students “with more availability correlating with higher student satisfaction.” (Lopatto 2009, p. 20). Having a structured experience with a schedule of research goals and meeting times also correlated with high student satisfaction. (Lopatto, 2009, p. 23).

Faculty Role

CPP faculty participating in the Community College/CPP Summer Research Experience will:

  • Establish a mentoring relationship with the student(s) accepted into her/his lab.
  • Design an 8‐week research project that allows the community college students to be engaged in several of the following: literature review, experiment design, data collection, data analysis, and research presentation.
  • Articulate structure for the 8‐week experience that includes a schedule of research goals.
  • Be on campus and available to students across the 8‐week session providing guidance and feedback on their work and engaging student(s) in conversation about the project to help them strengthen their analytical and critical thinking skills as well as their understanding of the discipline.
  • Guide in the development and approve a student‐made research poster and research report paper. All students are expected to present their research at the Annual Creative Activity and Research Symposium held mid August.
  • Participate in a mandatory faculty mentor orientation before the start of the summer program.
  • Perform lab safety training prior to lab work.
  • Participate in weekly faculty‐student meetings during the 8‐week summer research program.
  • Participate in occasional student cohort building activities during the 8‐week summer research program.
  • Complete all pre‐ and post‐surveys to help assess the summer research program.

Faculty Support

Community College will provide the following support for faculty mentors:

  • Reimbursed supplies funding ($750 per student)

Submit form to Dr. Winny Dong at  winnydong@cpp.edu