Frequently Asked Questions
What is the purpose of VIP?
The purpose of VIP is to help facilitate large-scale, long-term research projects involving at a minimum full-time faculty and students. Others who might be involved include staff members, part-time faculty, co-investigators at other institutions, community partners, postdoctoral fellows, etc.
Why is it called "Vertically Integrated?"
"Vertically Integrated" refers to the fact that there are several levels of researchers working together on a project (for example, sophomores who learn from seniors who learn from graduate students who learn from faculty). Everyone works together in a vertically integrated way.
Why should faculty get involved in VIP?
The VIP program is designed to help faculty launch and sustain high-impact, long-term, large research projects. Faculty who serve as Primary Investigators (PIs) on VIP projects will be well positioned for external funding, publications, and presentations. In addition, the faculty will become part of the VIP Consortium, which provides resources on best practices in managing large research teams, assessment, etc. There is also initial seed funding for the first year.
Why should students get involved in VIP?There are numerous benefits associated with involvement in research in general. For example, students who participate in research have been shown to have the following:
- Improved written and oral communication skills
- Critical thinking
- Problem solving
- Acquiring information independently
- Analyzing literature critically
- Developing intellectual curiosity
- Academic and professional socialization
- Having better credentials for grad school/careers
- Success in graduate school
There is also research on the benefits of VIP participation in general (a compendium of publications about VIP can be found here). For example, VIP provides a way for students to participate in large-scale research projects for several semesters. Students who participate for longer periods of time are likely to see improved gains in all of the above areas as they gain expertise in the research experience. In addition, because VIP is a team-based research experience, students will learn more about how to effectively work in teams. And students will get to know their faculty mentor and other project leaders, who ideally can write letters of recommendations for graduate school and jobs later on.
How do faculty start a VIP team, and how do students join a team?
Do all students have to take the VIP course (RES 4000), or can they volunteer to participate?
The VIP Consortium requires that students earn academic credit and a grade as part of their participation in VIP. Students are not permitted to volunteer on VIP projects; they must enroll in RES 4000 each semester.
Can students be on VIP teams that are outside their major?
Yes! We encourage students to be on any team that interests them. Please consult with your academic advisor about how the course will fit into your major.
Why are students required to present publicly and write a reflection each semester?
The VIP program supports the mission of the "It's About Engagement" initiative at KSU. This initiative is designed to increase student participation in engaged learning opportunities, including undergraduate research. In order for undergraduate research courses to count towards this initiative, they must meet several criteria, including having a public presentation or publication of the research and having a reflection at the end of the semester.
There are benefits to these criteria. For example, research has shown that public dissemination of work encourages students to work harder, and the practice helps them improve their communication skills.
Reflection is a process whereby students make meaning of their experiences. Engaging in reflection has numerous benefits for students, such as increasing their confidence, their self-awareness, and their ability to make connections across disciplines or between coursework and personal experiences (e.g., Weber & Myrick, 2018).
Although reflection is less common in undergraduate research than other high-impact educational practices like service learning, there is emerging research to suggest that reflective activity helps students process their research experiences more fully and generate new meanings regarding their work. Structured reflection helps students recognize the skills they’re developing in the research experience, improving metacognition. In addition, undergraduate researchers report that self-reflection helps them in their applications for post-graduate work (e.g., Nye et al., 2016; Picardo & Sabourin, 2018; Wilson et al., 2016).
Nye, A., Clark, J., Bidwell, P., Deschamps, B., Frickman, L., & Green, J. (2016). Writing
the (researcher) self: Reflective practice and undergraduate research. Reflective
Practice, 17(3), 257–269.
Picardo, K., & Sabourin, K. (2018). Measuring student learning gains in independent
research experiences in the sciences through reflective practices and ePortfolios.
Bioscene, 44(2), 29–36.
Weber, K., & Myrick, K. (2018). Reflecting on reflecting: Summer undergraduate
research students’ experiences in developing electronic portfolios, a meta-high
impact practice. International Journal of ePortfolio, 8(1), 13–25. Retrieved from
Wilson, A., Howitt, S., & Higgins, D. (2016). Assessing the unassessable: Making
learning visible in undergraduates’ experiences of scientific research.
Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 41(6), 901–916.
Who do I contact if I have more questions?
Please fill out the form located here if you have any more questions.