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Editorial: What the Best Students Do

Jure Jeric, University of Warwick

 

Although the headline of this editorial might sound pretentious, it is inspired by the book What the best college students do, written by Ken Bain (2012), who analysed the attitudes and behavioural patterns that distinguish top performers from their peers. According to Bain, the best college students are intrinsically motivated by their own sense of purpose. They are rarely demoralised by failures nor overly impressed with conventionally accepted notions of success. Furthermore, their success is a by-product of intellectual curiosity and hard work, rather than being their main goal. Although stellar students can benefit greatly from having inspiring and approachable mentors, high levels of self-commitment and resilience are the key catalysts of their achievements.

Bain's compelling case study on American students could easily be extended by observing students around the world, and certainly one of the best starting points for meeting and researching outstanding students would be the British Conference of Undergraduate Research. More than a hundred students from 57 universities who presented at this year's conference all demonstrated their drive to learn and their commitment to going beyond university curricula. It was a real pleasure to be a part of the conference, which was held at the University of Plymouth from 15 to 16 April 2013, and it is an honour to present some of the best conference proceedings. After all, the key aim both of BCUR and Reinvention is to support the dissemination of undergraduate research and hopefully stimulate other students to embark on similar challenging adventures.

The multi-disciplinary approach of the conference has once again proved to be a real asset for students' development and exchange of ideas. It is interesting to recognise that interdisciplinarity links to some of Bain's key findings; most notably, that top performers usually start with the belief that intelligence and ability are expandable, rather than being fixed. This initial approach allows them to make connections across disciplines by developing a 'meta-cognitive' understanding of various ways of thinking. Consequently, this modus operandi puts more emphasis on questing conventional norms and challenging the existing agendas, rather than simply looking for right or wrong answers.

Global awareness is another feature that can certainly be attributed to top students, and in that respect we are proud to inform you of the most recent endeavours of the Monash-Warwick Alliance. As was our aspiration in the previous BCUR 2012 Special issue editorial (Gibson and Hanley, 2012), this edition will be a 'showcase of conference papers from undergraduate students from around the world'. Alongside the papers presented at BCUR 2013, we will publish several papers from the inaugural International Conference of Undergraduate Research, which was held simultaneously at Monash University (Australia, South Africa, Malaysia) and the University of Warwick, on 10 May 2013.

We are pleased to publish 13 conference papers, which reflect the variety of disciplines and academic interests pursued by some of the best students in the UK and globally. The research papers presented in this special issue of Reinvention are different from the articles that we normally publish, in that they reflect the proceedings of a conference rather than being peer-reviewed academic research papers.

In order to understand the global dynamics of business and finance, Sophie Alice Burge from Plymouth University looks into 'The Motivational Reasons Behind Consumer Choice in Branded Coffee Shops', while Gregorius Agung Wicaksana (University of Kent and Bandung Institute of Technology, Indonesia) researches 'An Online Forum that Became a Giant e-Marketplace: A Case Study of the Largest Indonesian Online Community Kaskus.co.id'. Wenn Jinn Cheah (University of Warwick) focuses on a more general question, evaluating how 'Does Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Affect Service Export Sophistication'.

A completely different approach to globalisation, diversity and multiculturalism has inspired another quintet of papers. Shin Hye Wi, Abubakr Karbhari, Jason Chan and Imogen Young (London School of Economics and Political Science) analyse 'To What Extent Does the Diversity of the Student Body Affect the Content Diversity of Student Newspapers? A Case Study of the LSE'. Zoey Olivia Rhodes (University of Warwick) engages in activist research in order to undercover 'Subtle Racism: Viewing Race Through Hair'. Shrehan Lynch (Bournemouth University) also adopts the auto-ethnographic approach in her attempts to understand 'Do I Really Want to Be a Teacher Despite True Negatives'. Social norms and different perceptions of socially encouraged behaviours have motivated Lucy Farrar (Monash University) to find out 'Why Men Don't Use Condoms in a HIV Epidemic: Understanding Condom Neglect through Condom Symbology', while Nonie Tuxen's paper (Monash University) sheds a new light on 'Arranged love: conceptualising marriage on Shaadi.com'.

Exploring the past to understand the present was a strong incentive for Sarah Irving (University of Warwick) to research 'The Restitution of Ancient Artefacts,' while Gregg Jon Jones from the University of The West of England focuses on a more recent historical period by looking into 'Murder, Media and Mythology: The Impact the Media's Reporting of the Whitechapel Murders had on National Identity, Social Reform and the Myth of Jack the Ripper'. The economic perspective on historical events has inspired Robin Hudson (University of Nottingham) to test empirically some unpleasant statistics: 'Against All Odds: An Empirical Investigation into the Factors Affecting the Probability of Being Shot Down in World War Two'.

The positivist approach to science was a motivation for Eamon McGuire and Philip J. Marriott (Monash University) to research the 'Use of Multidimensional Gas Chromatography Techniques to Detect Illegal Doping with Beta-2 Agonists', while Jiun Bin Choong (Monash University) projects 'Future indoor Global Positioning System (GPS) using white LEDs'.

The papers presented in this issue represent just a selection of the outstanding research presented at BCUR 2012. BCUR 2014 is to be held at the University of Nottingham, while BCUR 2015 will be hosted by Winchester University. We will also continue with organising ICUR, and more video material will be uploaded on the ICUR website shortly. We look forward to continuing the tradition of publishing some of the best conference proceedings.

Finally, we would like to extend our warm welcome to our new Managing Editor Emma Barker, and four new assistant editors: John Watkins, Md. Roysul Islam, Jennifer Entwisle and Tim Ziegler.

 


 

References

Bain, K. (2012), What the Best College Students Do, Harvard: Harvard University Press

Gibson, C. and C. Hanley (2012), 'Editorial: Connecting Research Cultures', Reinvention: a Journal of Undergraduate Research, British Conference of Undergraduate Research 2012 Special Issue, available at http://www.warwick.ac.uk/reinventionjournal/issues/bcur2012specialissue/editorial/, accessed 25 June 2013

 

 

To cite this paper please use the following details: Jeric, J. (2013), 'Editorial: What Do Best British Students Do,' Reinvention: an International Journal of Undergraduate Research, British Conference of Undergraduate Research 2013 Special Issue, http://www.warwick.ac.uk/reinventionjournal/issues/bcur2013specialissue/editorial/. Date accessed [insert date]. If you cite this article or use it in any teaching or other related activities please let us know by e-mailing us at Reinventionjournal at warwick dot ac dot uk.