June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
15.435.1 - 15.435.12
Early Undergraduate Research at the University of Southern Indiana
The University of Southern Indiana (USI) is a participant in a National Science Foundation grant project to expose talented freshman STEM majors to research through a summer program at the completion of their freshman year with one-on-one mentoring with faculty members for that summer, their sophomore year, and the summer after their sophomore year. The first offering of this program occurred during summer of 2009 with three engineering faculty members selected to provide guidance to four freshmen. The students had the opportunity to not only work on their projects, but also to learn about projects that other students and faculty were doing in the basic sciences. This paper will present the early results of this program, both for the summer portion and the on-going mentoring relationships. Assessment methods include student performance in their sophomore classes and qualitative assessment of student attitudes. A departmental strategy for continuation of this program after expiration of the grant will also be explored.
At the University of Southern Indiana (USI), and throughout the nation, post-secondary science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs are having difficulty with the recruiting and retention of students. The National Science Foundation (NSF) created the STEM Talent Expansion Program (STEP) grants to help devise ways to address these issues. USI received a grant from the NSF in 2008 to take a 4-pronged approach towards increasing the number of STEM graduates in our region. The funds are being used to engage STEM majors in early undergraduate research, to provide more intensive academic advising to at-risk STEM majors early in their undergraduate education, to improve K-12 STEM outreach programs in the region, and to provide better training for K-16 teachers in the STEM fields.
It is particularly important to USI that we increase our retention and graduation rates within our STEM programs. Data indicate that only 13% of STEM freshmen actually graduate with STEM degrees from our institution by the 6 year point. Roughly 50% of incoming STEM freshmen have transferred out of the STEM programs by the end of their freshman year. A further 20% of those incoming STEM majors have transferred out by the end of their sophomore year.
This paper will focus on the initial successes of the early undergraduate research program in the Engineering Department. The early undergraduate research program provides an immersion into STEM research for selected volunteers from the freshman population majoring in STEM programs. Eligibility criteria for the students are that they have a minimum of a 2.75 cumulative GPA on a 4.0 scale, be full time students who have taken at least 12 semester hours in their first and second semesters, have taken at least one STEM course, and have good academic and disciplinary standing at the university. Interested students review research proposals that are posted on-line by potential faculty mentors. They apply for the program through the Pott College of Science and Engineering. Applications must include a letter of recommendation from a faculty member.
Mitchell, Z., & Lara Gracia, M., & Diersing, R., & Kissel, G. (2010, June), Early Undergraduate Research At The University Of Southern Indiana Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. https://peer.asee.org/16980
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