June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
Educational Research and Methods
22.419.1 - 22.419.31
Defining an Evaluation Framework for Undergraduate Research ExperiencesAbstractThe literature on undergraduate research experiences (UREs) makes, in many instances,unsubstantiated claims (e.g., claims based on small sample sizes). Furthermore, quite often thereis a lack of a control group to make comparisons with, data on how students develop a sense ofidentity, and the non-cognitive benefits gained by students (Seymour et al., 2004).In an effort to improve the evaluation framework for the authors’ NSF-funded S-STEM program(Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) that supports researchexperiences for its participating students, we analyzed quantitative and qualitative data from the2009-10 senior exit survey for graduating students in the College of Engineering and ComputerScience at a large, metropolitan, research university. The survey data offered a large sample size(n=687) of which 104 or 15% of students reported participation in a URE; non-URE studentswere used as a control group. First, we looked for patterns in the data that would provide someinsight into three hypothesized claims (see below) for our NSF program, which we called theYoung Entrepreneur and Scholar (YES) scholarship program. We then compared our findingswith a study of 76 rising seniors in eight science disciplines at four liberal arts schools bySeymour et al. (2004) and a study of 1,135 students (primarily in engineering and the sciences)surveyed at 41 institutions by Lopatto (2004).Claim 1. The URE is one pathway by which students explore their sense of “becoming” i.e.,establishing a career identity which is often inextricably bound up with personal identity (Zunkeras cited in Okocha, 2008), .Forty three percent of our URE students expressed interest in continuing on to graduate schoolcompared with 17% of non-URE students. In our survey, we found 41% of gains in“clarification or confirmation of career/education paths” compared with 20% of gains reported inthe Seymour et al. study. The difference is probably attributable to the timing of both studies:we surveyed graduating seniors whereas Seymour interviewed rising seniors.Claim 2. The URE is a transformational experience (Hunter et al., 2007).Fifty one percent of gains in the personal/professional domain (which includes “thinking andworking like a scientist”) were found in both our study and the Seymour study.Claim 3. The URE is an attractive proposition to recruit and retain under-represented groups.In our survey data, males and females showed the same level of interest in continuing on tograduate school as did Lopatto (2004). In our data, Caucasians and Hispanics showed higherlevels of interest in continuing on to graduate school whereas Lopatto (2004) found nodifferences among ethnic groups. This finding may be unique to our institution.The comparative analysis of our data with the two studies reaffirms the hypothesized claims anddefines an appropriate evaluation framework upon which our future YES program assessmentswill rely. We believe these assessments will be stronger since we expect to recruit two moreYES cohorts of 25 URE students (currently, 23 students are in the Research Path). ReferencesHunter, A, Laursen, S. L., Seymour, E. (2007). Becoming a scientist: The role of undergraduate research in students’ cognitive, personal, and professional development. Science Education 91(1), 36-74.Lopatto, D. (2004, Winter). Survey of undergraduate research experiences (SURE): First findings. Cell Biology Education 3, 270-277.Okocha, A.A.G. (2008, July). Racial ethnic identity and career development concerns of college students from immigrant African and Hmong families. Paper based on a program presented at the National Career Development Association Global Conferences, July 9- 11, 2008, Washington, D.C.Seymour, E., Hunter, A., Laursen, S.L., & Deantoni, T. (2004). Establishing the benefits of research experiences for undergraduates in the sciences: First findings from a three-year study. Science Education 88(4), 493-534.
Massi, L., & Georgiopoulos, M., & Young, C. Y., & Geiger, C., & Lancey, P., & Bhati, D. (2011, June), Defining an Evaluation Framework for Undergraduate Research Experiences Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. https://peer.asee.org/17700
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