S. Sandover1, L. Partridge1, R. Spronken-Smith2, A. Leger3, E. Burd4

1The University of Western Australia (AUSTRALIA)
2Otago University (NEW ZEALAND)
3Queens University (CANADA)
4Durham University (UNITED KINGDOM)
Internationalization of Higher Education is an emerging area of significant interest to most tertiary institutions. However, very few institutions have tackled the difficult topic of internationalization in the developing domain of undergraduate research (UR) training. The Matariki Undergraduate Research Network (MURN) addresses both these emerging and desirable areas of strategic importance. MURN is a global research project connecting some of the universities within the Matariki network, (an existing network of seven universities of comparable size and philosophy). MURN follows a model developed at The University of Western Australia (UWA) and in 2013 included Otago, Queens Universities and in 2012, Durham University.

The rationale driving MURN is the unique opportunity to connect students engaging in UR programs from the different universities in different regions across the globe. Research by the students is conducted in a teaching and learning topic of strategic importance to all universities. In 2012 and 2013, this topic was Internationalisation of Higher Education. Using the domain of teaching and learning as the vehicle for learning research skills, allows the students,as stakeholders to develop local and global communities of learners.

Online workshops in research training have been developed for the students to complete asynchronously. These include topics such as ‘what is research’; ‘writing a proposal’, ‘ethics approval’, ‘types of research’, ‘how to develop research questions’, ‘how to write up your results’; ‘how to present the results’. Students meet within their own institutions for face to face tutorials to discuss the online modules. All students meet in the global classroom to share their experiences of personal growth and development as they conduct their research and deliver their findings. Collaborative projects connecting the participating institutions provide the opportunity to identify the similarities and differences between universities and the communities they hold.

This exciting program provides the Universities involved with two levels of research data. It produces extensive research data on the various aspects of the implementation and impact of internationalisation of higher education (Level one). Level two data are collected through semi structured interviews with students and staff involved in the MURN program, and online surveys using the undergraduate research evaluation tool SALG. This provides data on the challenges and benefits of providing undergraduate students with research training in a global classroom.

This presentation will discuss level two results:
1) students in different countries can achieve UR training in the current format
2) students report personal growth and development of research skills and knowledge and greater understanding of their institutions
3) the principle source of learning exchange for students is still at a supervisor level
4) research methods can be delivered across the globe by MOOCs to overcome issues related to time zone and semesterisation differences
5) students enjoy sharing and comparing results identifying similarities and points of difference.
6) at the undergraduate level, students need strong guidance and scaffolding to tackle projects across borders.

This project demonstrates that UR training can be delivered by MOOCs across borders. However, local supervision and assistance is vital to ensure robust learning, research and global collaboration.