In early 2011, the Center for Access and Attainment (CAA) created the CAA Research Lab, a project intended to introduce first-year students to academic research methods and practice, in a collaborative effort — along with the TRIO McNair Scholars and Arnold Mitchem Fellows program — to prepare students for graduate study and faculty careers.
The CAA Lab is designed to:
- increase students' knowledge of basic research methodologies and techniques;
- build fundamental skills in data analysis and interpretation;
- develop critical thinking skills for designing, reading and evaluating academic literature;
- offer a forum to engage in productive dialogue about students' research interests;
- and help first-year students develop skills that will prepare them for future faculty and research positions.
Additionally, the CAA Lab builds a culture of academic engagement and collaboration as students participate in scholarly activities under the supervision of research coordinators, faculty mentors, graduate students and senior McNair participants. These objectives are also aimed to help first-year students develop relationships and talents to successfully navigate their transition into college.
Lab participants have worked hands-on with data collected for a longitudinal research study of DePaul freshmen students' transition from high school to college. Dr. Luciano Berardi, McNair Program director and affiliate faculty of the community psychology program, and Dr. Bernadette Sanchez, associate professor at the Department of Psychology and CAA Research Lab faculty fellow, teach and supervise graduate and undergraduate students' projects on the college transition study.
In the 2013-14 academic year, lab participants will work with McNair program staff on a mixed-methods study of racial/ethnic minority college student empowerment at DePaul University. Students will be exposed to interview transcription; quantitative data collection, entry and management; and data analysis, and will have the opportunity to create an independent research project in the context of the larger study.
In addition to training in conducting and analyzing research, a number of workshops aimed to help students identify their academic paths and undergraduate majors, as well as develop key skills for future job searches, are offered and are facilitated by the CAA Research Lab faculty fellow, McNair Scholars Program staff and Career Center staff.
The CAA Research Lab activities are partially funded by the Education and Development Grant for Employability (EDGE) Program, a partnership between the Office of Student Employment and Office of Financial Aid within the division of Enrollment Management and Marketing, which provides a select group of first-year freshmen the opportunity to earn a non-renewable tuition grant by contributing to an on-campus department or office project team while gaining career and job development skills.