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Active Research Experience For Undergraduates Increases Students' Motivation And Academic Performance

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Undergraduate Research & New Directions

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.161.1 - 8.161.18



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Paper Authors

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Robert Friedman

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Durgamadhab Misra

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Fadi Deek

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Kamal Joshi

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Vladimir Briller

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

Session 1332 Active Research Experience for Undergraduates Increases Students’ Motivation and Academic Performance

Fadi Deek, Vladimir Briller, Robert Friedman and Kamal Joshi New Jersey Institute of Technology

Abstract An active research experience is one of the most effective ways to attract talented undergraduates and retain them in careers in science and engineering. At NJIT, the (REU) Research Experience for Undergraduates program provides educational experience for undergraduate students through specially designed active research projects. This allows students to experience first-hand how basic research is carried out, and to contribute substantially to the undertaken research. In its first year of operation, (NJI-TOWER) New Jersey Information Technology Opportunities for the Workforce, Education and Research project funded 39 students to conduct their research projects during the 2000-2002 academic years. Those 39 students also received access to NJIT equipment and facilities. After completion of the projects, the REU awardees presented the results of their efforts with their research mentors to the university community.

While student presentations were considered to be qualitative outcomes, quantitative analyses were conducted on students’ academic performance. Retention rates, cumulative grade point averages (GPA) and overall academic persistence measured by ratio of earned and attempted credit hours were analyzed. Students and their supervisors were also surveyed on their satisfaction with the REU experience. Other educational outcomes such as obtaining graduate education and employment have been measured.

To analyze the impact of REU on academic achievement, a quasi-experimental design was applied. Pure experimental design was not possible because students could not be randomly assigned to experimental and control groups. Thirty-nine recipients of the NJI-TOWER REU awards composed the experimental group and 230 NJIT students were included in control group. The results of quasi-experiment can be considered valid due to the size and matching characteristics of the control group.

The t-tests on experimental and control groups’ retention, cumulative GPA and ratios of earned and attempted credit hours showed statistically significant difference between two groups. Survey responses from both faculty and students confirmed that REU has increased students’ motivation and interest towards research.

Introduction and literature review Active participation in real-life research has always been considered a high motivation for the undergraduates. According to NSF Report “Shaping The Future: New Expectations for Undergraduate Education in Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology “America's undergraduates – all of them – must attain a higher level of competence in science, mathematics,

“Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2003, American Society for Engineering Education”

Friedman, R., & Misra, D., & Deek, F., & Joshi, K., & Briller, V. (2003, June), Active Research Experience For Undergraduates Increases Students' Motivation And Academic Performance Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12353

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