June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.121.1 - 13.121.8
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.
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: © 2008 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