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Board 49: Work in Progress: An Exploration of Students’ Conceptualization of Research after Participating in an Undergraduate Research Experience

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Conference

2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Educational Research and Methods Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

9

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/32361

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Paper Authors

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Joseph C. Tise The Leonhard Center

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Joseph Tise is a doctoral candidate in the Educational Psychology program at Penn State University. His research interests include self-regulated learning, measurement, and connecting educational research to practice.

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Sarah E. Zappe Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Dr. Sarah Zappe is Associate Research Professor and Director of Assessment and Instructional Support in the Leonhard Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Education at Penn State. She holds a doctoral degree in educational psychology emphasizing applied measurement and testing. In her position, Sarah is responsible for developing instructional support programs for faculty, providing evaluation support for educational proposals and projects, and working with faculty to publish educational research. Her research interests primarily involve creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship education.

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Esther W. Gomez Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Dr. Esther Gomez is an assistant professor in the Departments of Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Gomez's research program focuses on how mechanical signals regulate cell signaling and on the development of tools for examining the structure of biological assemblies. She is also the Co-Director of a National Science Foundation sponsored Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program focused on the Integration of Biology and Materials in Chemical Engineering.

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Manish Kumar Pennsylvania State University

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Manish Kumar is an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering and a current co-Director of the Penn State REU on "Integration of Biology and Materials in Chemical Engineering". He obtained his PhD in Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and conducted postdoctoral research at the Harvard Medical School. He has 7 years of industrial research experience in environmental consulting and is dedicated to training young professionals.

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Rachel Miriam Vriend Croninger Pennsylvania State University

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Stephanie Cutler Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Stephanie Cutler has a Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Virginia Tech. Her dissertation explored faculty adoption of research-based instructional strategies in the statics classroom. Currently, Dr. Cutler works as an assessment and instructional support specialist with the Leonhard Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Education at Penn State. She aids in the educational assessment of faculty-led projects while also supporting instructors to improve their teaching in the classroom. Previously, Dr. Cutler worked as the research specialist with the Rothwell Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence Worldwide Campus (CTLE - W) for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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Abstract

This Work-in-Progress paper investigates how students participating in a chemical engineering (ChE) Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program conceptualize and make plans for research projects. The National Science Foundation has invested substantial financial resources in REU programs, which allow undergraduate students the opportunity to work with faculty in their labs and to conduct hands-on experiments. Prior research has shown that REU programs have an impact on students’ perceptions of their research skills, often measured through the Undergraduate Research Student Self-Assessment (URSSA) survey. However, few evaluation and research studies have gone beyond perception data to include direct measures of students’ gains from program participation. This work-in-progress describes efforts to evaluate the impact of an REU on students’ conceptualization and planning of research studies using a pre-post semi-structured interview process.

The construct being investigated for this study is planning, which has been espoused as a critical step in the self-regulated learning (SRL) process (Winne & Perry, 2000; Zimmerman, 2008). Students who effectively self-regulate demonstrate higher levels of achievement and comprehension (Dignath & Büttner, 2008), and (arguably) work efficiency. Planning is also a critical step in large projects, such as research (Dvir & Lechler, 2004). Those who effectively plan their projects make consistent progress and are more likely to achieve project success (Dvir, Raz, & Shenhar, 2003).

Prior REU research has been important in demonstrating some positive impacts of REU programs, but it is time to dig deeper into the potential benefits to REU participation. Many REU students are included in weekly lab meetings, and thus potentially take part in the planning process for research projects. Thus, the research question explored here is: How do REU participants conceptualize and make plans for research projects?

The study was conducted in the ChE REU program at a large, mid-Atlantic research-oriented university during the summer of 2018. Sixteen students in the program participated in the study, which entailed them completing a planning task followed by a semi-structured interview at the start and the end of the REU program. During each session, participants read a case statement that asked them to outline a plan in writing for a research project from beginning to end. Using semi-structured interview procedures, their written outlines were then verbally described. The verbalizations were recorded and transcribed. Two members of the research team are currently analyzing the responses using an open coding process to gain familiarity with the transcripts. The data will be recoded based on the initial open coding and in line with a self-regulatory and project-management framework. Results: Coding is underway, preliminary results will be ready by the draft submission deadline.

The methods employed in this study might prove fruitful in understanding the direct impact on students’ knowledge, rather than relying on their perceptions of gains. Future research could investigate differences in students’ research plans based on prior research experience, research intensity of students’ home institutions, and how their plans may be impacted by training.

Tise, J. C., & Zappe, S. E., & Gomez, E. W., & Kumar, M., & Croninger, R. M. V., & Cutler, S. (2019, June), Board 49: Work in Progress: An Exploration of Students’ Conceptualization of Research after Participating in an Undergraduate Research Experience Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. https://peer.asee.org/32361

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: © 2019 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