Rutgers Undergraduate Research Writing Conference presents student work to community
Nearly 50 students across every school presented independent research performed while taking different classes in the Department of English Tuesday morning at the Undergraduate Research Writing Conference.
Only students who earned an A grade in one of four different writing courses were invited to submit papers to the conference, said Lynda Dexheimer, who organized the event. Dexheimer is an assistant director of the Writing Program.
“It’s a good opportunity for students to share their exceptional work with the University community,” she said. “I want students to show off their accomplishments, I want them to show off their incredible projects, and it’s a great venue for them to highlight their work.”
More than 200 students submitted papers for consideration, of which 48 were selected to make presentations during the panels hosted over the course of the day. Eight were awarded for their efforts during lunch as well, she said.
The eight awards, which included cash prizes and are granted by Rutgers libraries and several deans, only recognized some of the work presented at the conference. But just being a part of it is momentous for students, Dexheimer said.
“For students on the practical level, it’s a way to distinguish themselves on a graduate school application. It’s quite a marker of success,” she said. “Just to be able to say ‘I was selected from this competitive pool of candidates’ … there’s thousands and thousands of students who take these courses.”
To qualify, a student must have taken either "Research in the Disciplines," "College Writing and Research," "Scientific and Technical Writing" or "Writing for Business and Professions," she said.
These courses require students to create their own papers based on research that they also perform.
“They are majoring in everything — pharmacy, engineering, (the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences), nursing, Mason Gross — we have students representing all of those schools,” she said.
The students are able to decide what they want to write about as well, she said. They create their own proposals which they then follow through on with their research.
“I think our courses are an excellent opportunity for students to complete writing projects in subjects that are of interest to them or to advance in their majors,” she said. “It’s an apprenticeship to graduate school or an apprenticeship to a professional career … that’s what I like about it.”
The planning process began in January, when students who took one of the required classes in the fall or spring of 2015 and received an A were asked to submit their papers.
Student interns then read through the papers, editing them while also planning the event, said Kimberly Bosco, a School of Arts and Sciences senior and one of the interns with the Writing Program.
The internship with the program helped them improve their skills as well as the writers, she said.
The interns also moderated the panels, where students presented their research topics using slideshows, Dexheimer said. Four students presented their work at each panel, having had the opportunity to practice in class and during optional training sessions hosted by the program.
“The skills of being able to order your thoughts in a logical way, being able to synthesize complex ideas from a variety of sources and be able to make sense of them in a coherent written form is a skill set I think would serve anyone,” Dexheimer said.
Nikhilesh De is a School of Engineering junior. He is the news editor for The Daily Targum. Follow him on Twitter @nikhileshde for more.