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A Two-Step Program for Undergraduate Students to Gain Authentic Experience in the Research Process

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Conference

2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016

ISBN

978-0-692-68565-5

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session I

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count

12

DOI

10.18260/p.27277

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/27277

Download Count

105

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Paper Authors

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Charles E. Pierce University of South Carolina

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Dr. Pierce is a Bell South Teaching Fellow and Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of South Carolina. He is a member of the American Concrete Institute, American Society of Civil Engineers, and American Society for Engineering Education.

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Nicole Berge University of South Carolina

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Dr. Nicole Berge received her B.S. and M.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of South Carolina in 1999 and 2001, respectively. In 2006, she received her Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Central Florida. From 2006 to 2008, Dr. Berge worked as a postdoctoral associate at Tufts University. Currently, she is an associate professor at the University of South Carolina.

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Joseph V. Flora University of South Carolina

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Fabio Matta University of South Carolina

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Dr. Fabio Matta is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of South Carolina (USC), where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on civil engineering materials, structural mechanics, and infrastructure repair. His research focuses on hazard-resilient construction, novel cement composites, and corrosion characterization and monitoring. Funding sources include DOE, NIST, NSF, and a number of utilities through the Centre for Energy Advancement through Technological Innovation (CEATI). Dr. Matta has published over 100 papers in refereed journals and conference proceedings, and several articles in professional magazines. Prior to joining USC, he served as the Associate Director of the NSF I/UCRC for the Integration of Composites into Infrastructure, and contributed to overseeing industry- and federally-funded projects on advanced composite and cement-based materials and structures. Dr. Matta serves as a member of ACI Committee 446 (Fracture Mechanics of Concrete), associate member of ACI Committee 440 (FRP Reinforcement), and associate editor of the ASCE Journal of Bridge Engineering and ASCE Journal of Materials in Civil Engineering .

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Robert Petrulis EPRE Consulting LLC

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Dr. Petrulis is an independent consultant specializing in education-related project evaluation and research. He is based in Columbia, South Carolina.

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Ethan Washam STV Engineers

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Mr. Washam earned his B.S. with Leadership Distinction in Research from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of South Carolina. He is a Roadway Design Engineer at the Charlotte, North Carolina branch of STV Engineers.

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Abstract

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.

Pierce, C. E., & Berge, N., & Flora, J. V., & Matta, F., & Petrulis, R., & Washam, E. (2016, June), A Two-Step Program for Undergraduate Students to Gain Authentic Experience in the Research Process Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27277

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