THE CHALLENGE OF INCORPORATING STUDENTS IN SCIENTIFIC-TECHNICAL RESEARCH: STRATEGIES FOR MOTIVATION AND INTEGRATION

E. Solórzano, J. Pinto, M.A. Rodriguez-Perez

University of Valladolid (SPAIN)
The number of students that incorporate to scientific and technical research represents a low ratio from the total number of graduate students being hard to cover all the PhD offers with in-house students. The low salary, the exigent and non-clear future perspectives after PhD completion are, probably, discouraging for our recent graduates. In this sense, it is known that Europe suffers a crisis in the number of European PhD students in scientific and technical areas. .

In this communication, we aim at presenting a series of strategies for motivating and progressively integrating students to the scientific and/or technical research activities, in particular to involve them in materials science research. These strategies has been applied during the last years to students of a physics degree. They merge together the teaching activities, realization of practicum in real laboratories connected with the theoretical learning of the physics degree, the use of public funds to stimulate the collaboration, the Erasmus inter-university program and, finally, the European support for students to assist to summer courses organized by several recognized European research centres. The communication considers different real examples and summarizes the percentage of incorporation and scientific production of PhD students incorporated by these strategies in the last 7 years. The obtained results show that the motivation of these students allows them reaching significant scientific level in shorter times and thus, being more productive, with is also very positive for their future professional careers.

One of the additional advantages is that all these activities do not require additional funding, although, on the other hand it is necessary to coordinate and supervise the student activities which is time consuming. This dedication is distributed within the laboratory staff at all the possible levels. It is also important to remark that the success of this procedure also requires certain knowledge of the individual characteristics and potential interest of each particular student.