Engaging undergraduate students in research not only improves discipline-specific knowledge and skillsets, but also exposes them to increased research-related career paths, and motivates their pursuit of graduate study. With an interest in increasing these outcomes among students, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) developed the Student Mentoring and Research Training (SMART) program. The primary objective of the program was to provide an increasing number of undergraduate student (UG) research opportunities by building triadic teams comprised of (1) a faculty mentor, (2) a graduate student assistant, and (3) at least three undergraduate students. By utilizing graduate student mentors, in collaboration with faculty researchers, an increased number of undergraduates could benefit from participation in these experiential learning opportunities. SMART also encouraged graduate student professional development as each graduate student oversaw a research project and was responsible for mentoring the UGs over a five-week period of employment. Three professional development workshops were implemented for graduate mentors. Workshops focused on teaching graduate students best practices in teaching of research skills, and building motivation, teamwork, and leadership. Pre- and post-test surveys were used to assess program effectiveness. Findings are reported on SMART program outcomes, which include analyses of quantitative and qualitative data collected from undergraduate student mentees and graduate student mentors during the first year of program implementation.

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