Exploring the Quality of Undergraduate Research in Ethiopian Public Universities: Three Universities in Focus
Keywords:Research, undergraduate, quality of research, Public University, Ethiopia
The prime objective of this paper was to explore the quality of undergraduate research in selected Ethiopian public universities. These universities were Addis Ababa, Madawalabu and Ambo. To undertake the study, 7 batches of English Language and Literature Departments of the three public universities were purposely selected. These undergraduate batches were 2007 and 2009 (of Addis Ababa University), 2008, 2011, 2012 (of Madawalabu University), and 2013, 2014 (of Ambo University). A total number of 120 graduates (30 students of Addis Ababa University), (55 students of Madawalabu University), and 35 students (of Ambo University) were participants of the study. In addition, 15 teaching staffs of the three universities 4 teachers (of Addis Ababa University), 6 teachers (of Madawalabu University), and 5 teachers (of Ambo University) were the participants of the study. The necessary data were gathered through reviews, interviews, observation and qualitative content analysis. As to the findings, undergraduate research is indispensable to develop basic research experience that would help students to succeed in their future professional as well as academic career. The study also indicated that the quality of undergraduate research in the selected Ethiopian public universities, sample departments, was at risk. The study revealed that teaching and research at undergraduate program was not integrated to bring about students’ whole round developments; both in academics and research. The findings revealed that the undergraduate research neither focused to the scientific knowledge transfer nor to developing and/or criticizing existing theories and /or models. The undergraduate research project was principally intended to satisfy students’ graduation profile. According to this study, the daunting quality of undergraduate research was mainly attributed to academic institutions, teachers, students and undergraduate curriculum. As to the study, the expected research faculties/departments failed to give due attention to promote quality undergraduate research. There was poor research leadership and coordination to enforce student comes out with sound undergraduate research paper. There was also poor provision of resources to help students and supervisors promote quality undergraduate research. On the other hand, most research advisors in the undergraduate program seemed to lack professional commitment to help students develop basic knowledge to embark on quality undergraduate research. The study also identified that undergraduate students had considerable contribution for the scanty quality of undergraduate research paper. The students viewed undergraduate research separately from academic success. Furthermore, the study has given insight that the undergraduate curriculum was not engaging students to do continuous research activities along their course works during their university life. Therefore, universities, research faculties, undergraduate research supervisors, students and curriculum designers are expected to play their separate as well as integrated roles to promote quality undergraduate research.
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