Undergraduate Student Research Assistants Participate in 2021 UC Davis Undergraduate Research Conference

At the School of Education’s Language and Literacy Development Lab, undergraduate research assistants get valuable, hands-on research experience in data collection, analysis and collaboration through preparing and presenting research projects for the annual UC Davis Undergraduate Research Conference held each April.

“We use the conference as an opportunity to provide our undergraduate students with practical experience working on a research team,” said Yuuko Uchikoshi, School of Education professor and principal investigator at the Language and Literacy Development lab.

For most of the year, undergraduates research assistants, like Jillian Yick—a third year student double majoring in Psychology and Human Development with a minor in Education, focus on data collection.

“When I first started working in the lab, I was trained on how to transcribe the interviews of bilingual students and their parents,” Yick said. “After more training, I was able to actually conduct the interviews over Zoom.”

Preparing for the Undergraduate Research Conference allows the student researchers to build and expand on these skills. Each winter, ahead of the conference, they form small teams, choose a research question to investigate and get to work.

“To prepare for the conference we chose the data we needed to address our research question and merged it, performed a literature review, and ran statistical descriptives and other data analysis,” said Felicia Wang, one of Yick’s teammates a third-year student  double majoring in Psychology and Evolution, Ecology and Biodiversity. “Basically all of that was new to me.”

Wang, Yick and their team, made up of another undergraduate student and a graduate student, met weekly for months, collaborating closely to complete the project.

“Students from all different backgrounds, with different experiences, come together to work on research,” Uchikoshi said. “It’s like each student has a different piece of the puzzle.”

This hard work culminates in team research presentations at the Undergraduate Research Conference. For the past two years, the conference has been held virtually and each team prerecorded their presentation.

“It’s been so exciting seeing the feedback and comments coming in, seeing people actually engaging with our work,” Wang said.

While it was Wang’s first year participating in the conference, it was Yick’s second, and she’s already looking forward to her third.

“The whole experience has been really inspiring and it’s been good to learn about everything that goes into a research lab, all the moving pieces,” Yick said.

Watch the video of Yick and Wang’s presentation here.

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