Asee peer logo

A Case Study Exploring the Influences of Engaging Community College Students in Undergraduate Biomedical Engineering Research Experiences

Download Paper |


2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Novel Pedagogies 2

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.23.1 - 23.23.16



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Megan F. Campanile Illinois Institute of Technology

author page

Frederick Doe Illinois Institute of Technology


Elana Rose Jacobs Illinois Institute of Technology

visit author page

Elana Jacobs is a first year doctoral student in Science Education at the Illinois Institute of Technology. With an M.Ed. in Instructional Leadership from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a B.A in Environmental Science from Hampshire College, she has over five years of experience working as a teacher in middle school science, math, and ESL in urban schools. In addition, she has extensive experience teaching science in museums and other informal learning environments. Her research interests include middle school science classrooms, how community college student navigate STEM majors, Research Experience for Undergraduate Programs.

visit author page

author page

Norman G Lederman Illinois Institute of Technology

author page

Eric M Brey Illinois Institute of Technology

Download Paper |


A case study exploring the influences of engaging community college students in biomedical engineering research experiencesThe American Association of Community Colleges reported in 2010 that 43% of undergraduatestudents in the U.S. are enrolled in community colleges. Approximately 50% of the AfricanAmericans and Hispanics who are undergraduate students attend community colleges. Inaddition, 57% of community college students are females and 46% receive some form offinancial aid. Based on the increasing enrollment numbers and student demographics,community colleges play a critical role in supporting the U.S. efforts to increase the diversity,knowledge base, and skill level of the STEM workforce. However, community colleges facenumerous challenges that are hindering their success, including the transfer rates of students into4-year colleges to earn bachelor degrees, particularly in engineering fields. Research hasindicated that 44% of community college students who intended to transfer dropped out orstopped out within six years and only 26% obtained bachelor’s degrees within nine years.Factors contributing to these challenges include the lack of resources at community colleges tosupport innovative educational practices and opportunities and the lack collaboration betweencommunity and 4-year colleges. In response to national position papers, the first published in1998 by the Boyer Commission, undergraduate research experiences have become a critical andintegral component of undergraduate STEM education. Substantial funding and resources toprovide more undergraduates with the opportunity to engage in authentic research experienceshas been expended, however, primarily to 4-year colleges and not community colleges. Thefocus of this study is an engineering Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) program at a4-year college in the Midwest that recruited undergraduate students from local communitycolleges. In the 10-week summer program, under the supervision of a faculty member, eachcommunity college student was paired with a graduate student and an experienced undergraduateresearcher to work on a biomedical engineering research project. With this being the first year ofcommunity college student involvement in this REU program, a case study approach was used toexamine the following research question, “What do community college students gain from anundergraduate research experience?” Three data sources were analyzed to develop the case study,including the program applications, surveys, and interviews. The constant comparative methodwas used to develop conceptual categories that addressed the research question. The resultsindicated that the community college students experienced many gains, including the opportunityto explore research career options and work environment; increased intrinsic desire to learn moreabout the research process; higher, more defined academic and career goals; decision makingabout academic plans; discovery and confirmation of interests and likes related to engineering;and, more awareness and understanding of what it takes to succeed in engineering. Providingresearch experiences to community colleges students suggests that more students will beencouraged and prepared to obtain degrees and enter into the engineering workforce. In addition,these findings suggest that REU programs have the potential to facilitate engineeringcollaborations between community and 4-year colleges. Lastly, this study contributes a valuabledata source to support future research to improve science education in community colleges.

Campanile, M. F., & Doe, F., & Jacobs, E. R., & Lederman, N. G., & Brey, E. M. (2013, June), A Case Study Exploring the Influences of Engaging Community College Students in Undergraduate Biomedical Engineering Research Experiences Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19037

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2013 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015