New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Session Topics: 2. Inspiring undergraduate students to pursue graduate degrees/research 5. Graduate student recruitment 12. Potpourri
Effects of a One-Week Research Program on the Graduate School Pipeline and Graduate Student Professional Development
During a one-week school break in 2015 at a large, public engineering institution, 20 undergraduate students, paired with 20 graduate student mentors, conducted engineering research. The goal of this program was to increase retention in engineering as well as to increase the pipeline of students, particularly underrepresented students, interested in pursuing graduate degrees in engineering. All students were selected through an application process, and all students were paid a stipend.
In addition to conducting research, undergraduate students were required to attend professional development events, including seminars on research etiquette, future research opportunities and the graduate school application process.
All participants completed a pre and post survey and are being subsequently tracked for retention, academic performance, and other research activities. In the first year of this program the Spring Break for Research cohort was 45% female and 25% underrepresented minority students. This is more diverse than the College of Engineering population at this Institution, which is 24% female and 11.5% underrepresented minorities. The program was aimed at students who had no previous research experience. 60% of the cohort were first-year students, 20% were sophomores, and 20% were juniors.
Results showed that undergraduates who participated had a strong engineering identity and were interested in attending graduate school, but were uninformed about the financing and application process for graduate school. Thus, while undergraduates didn’t show significant changes in engineering identity, interest in research, or interest in graduate school before versus after the program, they expressed an increased understanding of the graduate school application process as well as increased knowledge about financing for graduate school. Continued tracking of students will indicate whether these students matriculate in an engineering graduate program. Additionally, 100% of undergraduates said this research program was a positive experience, 95% would recommend the program, and 90% said their graduate student mentor was a good match.
Results also showed that graduate students felt this opportunity prepared them for future employment. Many expressed enthusiasm at the opportunity to practice and hone mentorship skills. 100% of the graduate mentors indicated that they would or might keep in touch personally with their undergraduates and 80% said they would or might keep in touch about their research. The graduate students also expressed gratitude for the contributions and assistance to their research project which their mentees were able to provide.
This one-week research program increased access to research and graduate school for a diverse group of undergraduates and improved professional development skills for their graduate student mentors. Moving forward, this research program will be replicated and improved upon for a one-week school break during 2016.
Dunn, V., & Miller, S., & Swartz, S., & Antoine, A. L. (2016, June), Effects of a One-Week Research Program on the Graduate School Pipeline and Graduate Student Professional Development Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26913
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