Learning experience and identity development as a research assistant /
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What research learning experiences do current students have as research assistants (RAs) in the Faculty of Education at Brock University? How do the experiences of research assistants contribute to the formation of a researcher identity and influence future research plans? Despite the importance of these questions, there seems to be very little research conducted or written about the experiences of research assistants as they engage in the research process. There are few resources to which research assistants or their advisors can refer regarding graduate student research learning experiences. The purpose of this study was to understand the kinds of learning experiences that 4 RAs (who are enrolled in the Faculty of Education at Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario) have and how those experiences contribute to their identities as researchers. Through interviews with participants, observations of participants, and textual documents produced by participants, I have (a) discovered what 4 RAs have learned while engaged in one or more research assistantships and (b) explored how these 4 RAs' experiences have shaped their identities as new researchers. My research design provided a separate case study for each participant RA, including myself as a research participant. Then as a collective, I studied all 4 cases as a case study in itself in the form of a cross-analysis to identify similarities and differences between cases. Using a variety of writing forms and visual narratives, I analyzed and interpreted the experiences of my participants utilizing arts-based literature to inform my analysis and thesis format. The final presentation includes electronic diagrams, models, poetry, a newsletter, a website presentation, and other representational arts-based forms.This thesis is a resource for current and future research assistants who can learn from the research assistant experiences presented in the research. Faculty members who hire research assistants to assist them with their research will also benefit from reading about RAs' learning experiences from the RAs' perspective. The information provided in this thesis document is a resource to inform future policies and research training initiatives in faculty departments and offices at universities. Consequently, this thesis also informs researchers (experienced and inexperienced) about how to conduct research in ways that benefit all parties and provide insight into potential ways to improve research assistantship practices.