Monday, October 5, 2009

Undergraduate Research

While it may be a pain in the ass for the professor involved, I have to say that I'm happy that this class is a required part of my undergraduate degree. Especially when put in contrast to the upper-level science courses I am currently taking, which half the time cease to have a lab component complementing the theory -- not that theoretical classes are bad unto themselves, as there's a lot of material out there from which one has to play catch-up with. But I've been forced to learn about a subject I've never had a class in by way of teaching myself from current literature. I haven't done a single experiment, I've only given myself a beginning background in an area. And the ability to utilize things like scifinder or pubmed or the ACS website, and teach yourself (with a little help from my advisor, I must admit) about a topic... I can't help but think these are invaluable skills for work that I hope to be doing in the future. And they aren't skills I ever used in a class room setting, because their you're more concerned with problem solving, memorization, and finding answers in your text-book index.

Additionally, there's an emotional satisfaction to it all -- becoming familiar with an area in order to do original research. But I wouldn't argue that is prime reason for including things in curriculum.

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