June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
June 19, 2019
Minorities in Engineering
As part of a U.S. Department of Education Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program (MSEIP) grant, University X began a summer research experience for lower-division STEM students in 2015. University X is both a Hispanic Serving Institution and a Minority Serving Institution. One of the goals of the MSEIP grant was to provide research opportunities for lower-division students to promote interest in STEM research and careers. Many programs exist nationally to provide research opportunities for upper-division students, but there is a gap in available programs at the lower-division level. Groups of up to ten lower-division students worked with a faculty member and an upper-division student peer mentor on a research topic chosen by the faculty member for four weeks. Each summer had at least four different research topics to choose from and students could indicate a preference for specific topics on their application. Students selected for the four-week research experience were expected to complete the appropriate first-year curriculum for their major before participation in the program. Stipends were provided to the student participants, the upper-division student peer mentor, and the faculty members. In total, 103 students participated in the summer experience from 2015 to 2018. While this was a STEM grant, nearly 60% of the participants majored in engineering or computer science. About 54% of the participants were Hispanic, which matches the demographics of University X. Overall, 65% of the participants were underrepresented minority students and about 37% were female. Surveys were administered to the participants about their attitudes towards STEM careers and research and their interest in their field of study. In a previous work-in-progress report for the first two years of the research experience, we noted that the majority of respondents indicated an increase in interest in STEM research and careers and an increase interest in their field of study as a result of their participation in the summer program. We also noted a high retention rate, above 90%, for the first two years of participants. These trends continued across the entire cohort. Since a goal of the MSEIP grant was to encourage upper-division research through this lower-division research experience, we surveyed faculty members who led the summer experiences in 2015 through 2017 to see how many of their MSEIP students went on to conduct upper-division research. We are also surveying the MSEIP participants directly to get additional self-reported data on upper-division research with other faculty members at University X or at other institutions. For the faculty survey, faculty members for 33 of the participants responded. Of that group, 14 of their MSEIP students went on to conduct research at the upper-division level with the faculty member, including publications at local or national conferences. All of the faculty respondents indicated that the MSEIP experience was a great recruitment tool for their upper-division research projects and that their MSEIP students were very successful at upper-division research.
Danforth, M., & Lam, C., & Hughes, R., & Salomon, S. (2019, June), Enhancing Research Pipelines for Underserved Students through a Lower-Division Research Experience at a Minority-Serving Institution (Experience) Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. https://peer.asee.org/32748
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