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Board 53: Long-Term Assessment After More than a Decade of Involving Undergraduate Students in an REU Program

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Laila Guessous Oakland University

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Laila Guessous, Ph.D. is a professor in the department of mechanical engineering at Oakland University (OU) in Rochester, MI. Her research and teaching interests lie in the areas of fluid mechanics and heat transfer, with an emphasis on computational methods. She is the program director for the NSF-funded AERIM REU program at OU, as well as a co-PI on the Oakland University WISE@OU NSF ADVANCE Partnerships for Adaptation, Implementation, and Dissemination (PAID) grant.

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Research experiences have long been known to increase student motivation, confidence and retention in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Since the summer of 2006, the department of Mechanical Engineering at Oakland University (OU) has been organizing a research experience for undergraduates (REU) program that has been successful at recruiting underrepresented undergraduates in engineering – women in particular. Funded through the National Science Foundation REU program, this summer REU program seeks to address the nationwide problem of the under-representation of women and minorities in STEM by involving undergraduate students from across the U.S. in automotive-related research projects for 10 weeks during the summer. Ultimately, the goal is to engage participants in rewarding automotive research experiences that motivate them to pursue graduate studies and embark on careers in in industry, government or academia.

Since its inception in 2006, a total of 92 students from 64 different universities have taken part in the program. The AERIM REU program has been successful at recruiting a diverse pool of undergraduate students, with underrepresented groups in engineering (women in particular) representing about 70% of the participants. The program is each year assessed using pre- and post-surveys to assess the expectations of the students, their opinions and beliefs about engineering, graduate school and research and their level of satisfaction with different aspects of the program This provides short-term data on student satisfaction with the program organization, as well as any changes in their opinions and plans immediately upon completion of the program. Yet, one of the most challenging aspects of assessing such a program over the medium to long-term is gathering information about the student participants after they have left the REU program, particularly when most of the participants are from institutions other than OU. Students’ contact information changes over time, particularly after they complete their undergraduate degree and move, which can pose challenges for long-term assessment. Using a variety of strategies, the AERIM REU program at Oakland University has been able to continue to gather longer term assessment data on the student outcomes 11 years since the inception of the program. The main purpose of this paper is to share some of these strategies and to report on the outcomes and assessment results of the program, particularly as they pertain to the graduate school and career choices of the student participants.

Guessous, L. (2018, June), Board 53: Long-Term Assessment After More than a Decade of Involving Undergraduate Students in an REU Program Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30054

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