June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
22.251.1 - 22.251.37
Assessment of a Summer Undergraduate Research Program Focused on Biomedical Engineering and Diabetes Undergraduate research experiences can greatly influence the career plansand motivation of young engineers and scientists. However, the impact of theseexperiences on the students depends on the nature of the interactions. More than18 million people in the United States have diabetes mellitus. Biomedicalengineering is providing important inroads to understanding the disease and itsmany complications. The primary goals of this 10-week summer Biomedical EngineeringResearch Experience for Undergraduates (REU) was: 1) for students to completea challenging diabetes-related engineering projects with research mentors at IIT,2) demonstrate the ability to design experiments, analyze data, and present resultsthat address a hypothesis, and 3) expose student to the broader health implicationsof their research with lecture, outreach, and tours of clinical facilities. In thisresearch we describe our five-year experience and assessment of the program.Pedagogical Approach From 2006-2010, 10-15 students participated annually in this program.Students were paired with engineering mentors and expected to complete achallenging research project focused on the study and treatment of diabetes and itscomplications. Projects covered a variety of areas of biomedical engineering,including biomaterials, biosensors, imaging technologies, physiology, andregenerative medicine. In addition, to research students participated in weeklyseminars on the diabetes (from both biomedical researchers and public healthspecialists), weekly ethics seminars, and tours of clinical facilities.Assessment The objective of the evaluation process is to measure qualitatively andquantitatively the success of the REU project in terms of the knowledge and skillsgained from research projects and workshops and cohort activities, expansion ofthe perspectives of the students, and increased interest in careers in research anddevelopment. Pre and post tests are given to REU students to assess the benefits of theirresearch experience and cohort activities. These tests evaluate 1) the ability toformulate a hypothesis, design experiments, and analyze data and 2) knowledgeon the broader health implications of diabetes and its relevance to basic research. Students participating in the program are tracked in order to assess theinfluence of the REU Site experience in their career paths. The program assessesstudent background (major, year, exposure to research careers), their level ofinterest before and after research, and the nature of the research experience andhow that relates to career path. Students also prepare and submit an abstract on their work to the BMESannual meeting. This serves as an outside source of feedback. In addition,students will submit a final paper to a newly developed undergraduate researchjournal.Outcomes Preliminary results indicate significantly increased knowledge in diabetesand its research relevance. In assessing the students’ ability to formulatehypotheses and design experiments scores, there appeared to be someimprovement in these skills. Tracking of students suggest that we were bothsuccessful in targeting students without previous research experience and ingenerating interest in research upon completion of the programs. Theseassessment tools are being further analyzed to provide greater insight into thesuccess of the REU program.
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