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A Survey Based Study To Identify Methods For Achieving Positive Outcomes For Undergraduate Researchers

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Collection

2008 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

New Ideas for ChEs I (aka ChE Potpourri)

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count

8

Page Numbers

13.121.1 - 13.121.8

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/3183

Download Count

17

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Paper Authors

author page

Tamara Floyd-Smith Tuskegee University

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Abstract
NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Survey-Based Study to Identify Methods for Achieving Positive Outcomes for Undergraduate Researchers

Abstract This work describes the results of a survey administered to individuals involved in administrating and supervising undergraduate research. The purpose of the survey is to understand what factors lead to positive outcomes for undergraduate researchers. Positive outcomes include undergraduates pursuing graduate degrees, pursuing research careers and reporting their work at conferences and in journal publications. The factors investigated include various topics such as how candidates are identified, factors considered most important when selecting an undergraduate, defining a project for an undergraduate and assessing the undergraduate. Forty eight individuals, the majority of whom where professors (88%) at research institutions (56%), responded to the survey. Although there were not any statistically significant conclusions, the results suggest that (1) having a formal application procedure, (2) choosing undergraduates based on conceptual understanding and (3) assessing undergraduates based largely on critical thinking lead to more undergraduates attending graduate school.

Introduction Conducting undergraduate research (UR) has been shown to have a number of positive outcomes for the undergraduate researcher including increasing confidence and understanding, clarifying interests in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers and increasing the anticipation of a Ph.D1. Russell et al. recently performed an extensive survey for the National Science Foundation which included 3600 faculty, post doctoral and graduate student mentors of undergraduate research1. These mentors were identified because they were funded by one or more of the eight NSF programs with an undergraduate research focus. Although this study was comprehensive from the standpoint of NSF, mentors without funding from NSF may have been overlooked. This number could be significant given that many UR mentors (corporate) don’t write proposals for funding and the funding levels of other organizations such as the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense, the Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Department of Agriculture are significant.

The inclusion of undergraduate researchers is a typical component of a successful research proposal. However, little guidance is given on how to ensure the best outcomes for undergraduate researchers. Given the importance of UR to the pipeline of graduate researchers, it is imperative that undergraduate research mentors are aware of the factors that lead to positive outcomes for undergraduate researchers.

Thus, the purpose of this work is two-fold. First, this study includes mentors that were contacted based on their affiliation with chemical engineering without regard to the agencies that fund their research. Consequently, this study should provide a different perspective than the Russell et al. study. Second, this study seeks to understand what factors from identification to assessment of undergraduate researchers effect positive outcomes.

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