Peer-Assisted Team Research

Most STEM educators agree about the many benefits that result from students’ involvement in undergraduate research. However, on many campuses, there are more students who would benefit from undergraduate research than there are opportunities in faculty labs. This is particularly a challenge for students in their first years of college, before they have completed many STEM courses. The irony is undergraduate research might actually benefit these students the most, increasing retention in STEM and in college. Persistence in STEM is a particular concern for women and under-represented minorities. We propose that the Peer-Assisted Team Research (PATR) resolves some of these issues.

The PATR Model

In the PATR method, first- and second-year students learn about the key components of the research process by doing hands-on innovative exploration of interdisciplinary research topics. Teams of students complete a series of structured experiences to scaffold an understanding of the research process in a team setting. Under the supervision of trained peer research leaders, teams design and run their own studies, analyze their data, and draw conclusions. Because the emphasis is on the research process and scientific reasoning, rather than on producing cutting-edge results, minimal equipment is needed for students to “feel like scientists,” an important component of STEM retention and choosing a STEM career.


Brooklyn. All in.