UW Bothell undergraduate research ‘incredibly valuable’


UW Bothell undergraduate research ‘incredibly valuable’

By Douglas Esser

A successful research project by University of Washington Bothell undergraduates leads to two student internships and a continuing relationship between the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences and the King County Department of Information Technology.

Faculty member Shauna Carlisle set up the research that engaged about 30 students from her fall BIS 312 Approaches to Social Research class in a 10-week real-world project.

They surveyed more than 200 employees responsible for repair records or “trouble tickets” in the downtown Seattle department. It provides information technology support, such as computer and website help, to other King County agencies.

The students analyzed survey results and presented their findings to department officials, including Ann Moses, performance management program manager.

“We really are excited. There really were incredibly valuable insights from the work of the students,” Moses said.

Carlisle says students who thought they could never do research rose to the occasion.

“It was an opportunity for students to be civically engaged and to learn that when partnering with community organizations research can have a positive impact on their community,” said Carlisle, an assistant professor at UW Bothell since 2011. “It’s an amazing process to see students enter the class apprehensive about research methods and statistics and leave the class researchers. After every project I receive feedback from students saying they had no idea they could conduct research until now, or that the positive response from the organization to the work they completed is one of the highlights of their education.”

Students learned how their research training can be used to improve the lives of those in our region. They say they also learned data analysis and collaborative skills that can boost their resumes.

“This class has shown me how to create an effective research project and the steps you have to take to do it right as well as how to present it properly,” said Colin Miller.

Michelle Forsen says it was one of her favorite projects because she was elected a group project manager. “I was in constant collaboration with group members to create a product that was as awesome as our final product was,” Forsen said. “There were a lot of late nights and a lot of stressful moments. However, we worked together as a group to really excel.”

Research shows that program evaluation is one of the top skillsets needed by employers, Carlisle said. In addition to the two internships, King County Information Technology plans to continue the partnership with BIS 312 students this year, said Moses, the continuous improvement lead.

The UW Bothell trouble ticket survey made a difference.

“I used one of the graphs that was presented the very next day in a meeting with leaders where we were talking about improving processes,” Moses said.

The survey highlighted the need for additional training in a new trouble ticket system.

“Every single one of the groups presented another subtle insight into how KCIT can improve our ticket-management processes. That was just invaluable to me,” Moses said.

She also was impressed with the thought and care the students put into their presentations.

“We’re already looking forward to the next project we partner with the University of Washington Bothell on,” Moses said.

The project is an example of the class-based research projects that will be presented at the Undergraduate Research and Creative Practice Symposium in May.

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