New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session
A two-step research program for undergraduate students was developed and implemented across the 2015 spring-summer terms in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at _____. The first step requires students to complete a research course in the semester prior to the research experience. This course is different from an independent learning or special research topics course. It is taught in a traditional classroom setting but emphasizes interactive learning of the research process. Students are taught how to identify meaningful research topics and develop research questions based on the identification of gaps in knowledge in the relevant literature. The course culminates with the submission of a research proposal, which is the main deliverable and student assessment instrument for the course. Students are required to meet and work with their research mentor during the semester. The second step is to conduct the research as outlined in the proposal.
This program was implemented as part of a NSF-supported project to create the Nanotechnology LINK (Learning Integration of New Knowledge) curriculum enhancements. This project exposes undergraduate students in our department to fundamental concepts and applications in nanotechnology, with an emphasis on end-of-life management of products containing nanomaterials. This content is delivered across multiple linked courses. To complement and extend student learning of nanotechnology within the curriculum, research-based learning opportunities were created for a select cohort of students. The first cohort of five students was assembled from a group of 22 internal applications. This paper will describe the application and selection process, which was conducted during the fall 2014, and the subsequent impacts of the research course (spring 2015) and summer research experience (summer 2015) on student understanding of the research process.
Students are encouraged to culminate the research program through the pursuit of Graduation with Leadership Distinction (GLD) in Research. Four of the five students in the first cohort intend to earn the GLD in Research, which is a university-wide program available to all undergraduate students. Successful recipients must demonstrate (1) extensive, purposeful engagement beyond the classroom; (2) understanding of course concepts in “real world” settings; and (3) application of learning to make decisions and solve problems. Requirements include participation in enhancement activities (lectures, workshops, events); completion of approved courses relating to their experience; delivery of a public presentation; and production of an e-portfolio that demonstrates their learning. This paper will provide an example of one student’s completed requirements towards the distinction.
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