June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
NSF Grantees Poster Session
26.441.1 - 26.441.13
Defining a Successful Undergraduate Research Experience in EngineeringAbstractIn recent years, there has been interest in broadening the participation of students inundergraduate research experiences in engineering disciplines. While there has beenconsiderable study and analysis of the benefits achieved by high-achieving undergraduatestudents engaged in research activities, relatively little consideration has been given tothe impact and benefits of research experiences on engineering students who are betterdescribed as “average”. Yet, these are the students to whom undergraduate researchopportunities need to be provided in order to achieve broader participation. Therefore, itis beneficial to understand how these experiences actually impact “average” students soas to not design programs that will not meet the students’ expectations or needs.The primary purpose of this NSF-sponsored work is to provide definitions of whatconstitutes a successful undergraduate research experience for a wide range of students.Particular attention is devoted to students whose academic background and performanceis solid, but not outstanding. For such students, some of the benefits seen in high-achieving students, such as increased likelihood of graduate school attendance, may notbe appropriate measures of a successful experience. Through surveys and interviews ofstudents who have engaged in undergraduate research experiences in engineering, as wellas surveys and interviews with engineering faculty, we have developed preliminarydefinitions of a successful research experience. These results will be presented in thepaper. For example, a larger percentage of these students found that the undergraduateresearch experience increased their confidence in their abilities to be a successfulpracticing engineer than those who found the experience increased their interest ingraduate school. The implication of this is that for these “average” students, a successfulresearch experience should be defined in terms of improving the skills needed to bepracticing engineers with B.S. degrees rather than inspiring them to immediately pursuegraduate studies.In addition to these preliminary definitions of a successful undergraduate researchexperience, the paper will also present insights gained from the study with regards towhat makes the experience more positive for the students. Finally, while the diversity ofthe students studied to date is not large, some observations of the overall impact andeffectiveness of the research experiences for different demographic groups will bediscussed.
Reisel, J. R., & Cancado, L., & Walker, C. M., & Mitrayani , D. (2015, June), Defining a Successful Undergraduate Research Experience in Engineering Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23780
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