Road to Research

Mentored Learning and Projects

What is mentored learning?

Mentored learning connects students with faculty in a dynamic way, enabling students to access the wealth of knowledge and experience of faculty outside of the classroom. Whether faculty involve students in their own research or advise on student projects, the results are spectacular.

What Projects?

The first step to defining research is to set aside generalized descriptions and realize that research is primarily an individual pursuit of one's academic passions! Research can happen anywhere -- on a cluttered bench in a scientific laboratory, in the dirt of the great outdoors, the dusty archives of a medieval library, on a computer screen in your home, in your own community or across the world.

A mentored project is the opportunity for you to identify your academic interests and pursue them with the help of a BYU faculty member. Whether the result is a performance in the HFAC, presenting findings at a conference, or publishing in an academic journal, the experience will be life-changing.

What is the value of mentored learning?

A mentored project allows you the opportunity to identify current research in your field and study it in depth with an expert in that area.

This is a different type of learning, one that requires critical thinking, problem solving, detailed analysis, and synthesis of ideas. This approach is how learning happens outside of the classroom; not by memorization and regurgitation, but by trial, error, and (hopefully) success.

Graduate and professional schools value students who have done research or projects in their field of study. Additionally, the experience gained through conducting a project gives you expertise in an area of current interest. This looks good on any application, whether it be for graduate school or employment.

To sum it up, undergraduates who work on mentored projects:

Exploring Your Interests

Evaluate what really interests you. What are you passionate about and how can you find out more? Make a list and investigate what is being done in your area of interest.

Having problems? The HBLL has resources to help you! Check out the Research Starter Guide and Chat options. You can also search the library website for scholarly articles and talk to professors in classes you love about what projects they are working on.

Finding Research Opportunities

Are you ready to get to work and want to find a mentor? Check out these tips to find your ideal opportunity:

Look at BYU's Mentoring Faculty List

Click on the ‘Find a Mentor’ tab above and search by college. Additionally, you can search the Journal of Undergraduate Research for keywords or topics that interest you to see what other students and faculty have done in the past.

Talk to Professors and Make Yourself Visible

The Neuroscience department has compiled a great resource for their students who want to work in labs. You may not be studying neuroscience or want to work in a lab, but many of the principles are completely transferable to all disciplines of study. Check it out

Tips on how to approach Faculty

Talk to Advisors

Make an appointment to meet with your college or department advisor to talk about opportunities at the academic advisement webpage.

Search the Web and Your Department’s Website

Look for internship or project opportunities on your department or college webpage. Talk to department office staff about opportunities that may not be posted.

Realistic Expectations

While fun, research is also hard work. In classes, there is almost always a right answer to each question. In research, you have to write your own questions and discover your own answers via experimentation. As you work through problems and receive insight from your expert mentor, you will be able to better navigate these situations in the future. Gaining these skills will provide you with invaluable experience that you will take into any profession.