Revealing Moments of Mentoring International Undergraduate Research Assistants

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Abstract

Using a reflective, self-study research design, this manuscript documents the core learnings that three undergraduate research assistants (URAs) and three faculty mentors (FMs) identified as they reflected on their learning after they collaborated on a funded, qualitative research study. The context of this study was a Canadian international branch campus in Qatar. Students were enrolled in an undergraduate nursing program and were hired as research assistants for a qualitative study of Qatari high school students. The URAs were required to engage in all aspects of the research process including fine tuning the research design, research ethics clearance, and dissemination of results. Following the original study, the URAs and FMs undertook a reflective process to analyze the core learnings regarding the collaborative experience. Research team members reflected on the following questions: What did you learn from your experience as an URA or FM? How did you learn this? Why does this have value? What was the most significant learning moment during your research assistant experience? The following themes emerged regarding participation in the research project: development of researcher identity; tensions and considerations about the process of research; and the role of research in terms of validating theory and application to practice. The FM themes that emerged were complexities regarding Western research processes and protocols in an international context, recognition of the influence of nationality as impacting opportunity, and issues related to predatory conferences.