Undergraduate research: Challenging, and rewarding

September 15, 2015

By Andrew Rabaut, senior majoring in kinesiology

Rabaut is an undergraduate research assistant with the Exergames Research Lab, under the direction of University Distinguished Professor Deb Feltz. Research from the lab includes the impact of using a “cyber buddy” during a workout, using groups to increase motivation for exercise and helping to keep astronauts active in space. 

It is an amazing opportunity to be a part of undergraduate research at the Michigan State University College of Education. The opportunity to work with people who are invested and interested in a world-changing endeavor always gives you the feeling that you are putting worthwhile time into MSU. The past year that I have worked for the Exergames Research Lab has been a time filled with challenges and accomplishments alike. As challenging as it was, I am starting this year feeling confident about my future and more prepared than ever to help lead the physical therapy field that I am so passionate about. The support I received from my fellow students, graduate student supervisors, experimental participants and professors made this experience the most impactful of any group I have been involved with at MSU.

With undergraduate research, you can really invest yourself into a study. I chose to be involved as much as possible. As a Spartan, I understand the simple idea that the greater the challenge, the greater the reward. I engaged in lab training sessions before the experiment even started. I sought to understand every intricacy involved in the study. This was advantageous to the lab, because when I was at my shift, I was able to teach and help other undergraduate students learn how to respond to common problems and not let little issues hinder the overall study. I was elated by the freedom and direction I had that made use of all the statistical strategies, social concepts and new ideas I had learned over the past four years as a kinesiology student. As the 2015 school year begins and a new cohort of our study starts, I reminisce and appreciate all the hard work I have done.

Presenting his findings 

One of the more unique opportunities I have had because of my research involvement was the chance to present some preliminary results of our study at the University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF). This is a great experience that allows students involved in a wide variety of research disciplines to come together and present findings from their respective field of work. By participating, I have gained indispensable presentation skills, creative satisfaction and a feeling of connectedness to all the Spartans trying to make a difference in the world.

Changing lives

My year-long Exergames Research Lab involvement fostered relationships with students and faculty who I hope I am able to work with later in life. I cannot be more thankful for the opportunity to grow as a professional and learn as a student in my research role. MSU’s College of Education and Department of Kinesiology’s Exergames Research Lab has served as a basis for advancing my career aspirations in physical therapy and health promotion. Being a part of undergraduate research will undoubtedly change the lives of people in the future, but the most profound change may be within one’s self.

Learn more about undergraduate research in kinesiology

Rabaut recently spoke to incoming freshmen at the 2015 Colloquium With Your College. He spoke with faculty members, graduate students and other undergraduates about the importance of research, and how utilizing research opportunities while at MSU can help their careers: