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Impacts of a Neural Engineering Summer Research Experience on High School Students (Evaluation)

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Evaluation: Exploring High School Engineering Education Initiatives

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.894.1 - 26.894.21



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Paper Authors


Kristen M Clapper Bergsman Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering

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Kristen Clapper Bergsman is the Pre-College Education Manager at the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering at the University of Washington, where she is also a doctoral student and graduate research assistant in Learning Sciences and Human Development. Previously, Kristen worked as an educational consultant offering support in curriculum development and production. She received her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction (Science Education) from the University of Washington.

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Eric H. Chudler University of Washington

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Eric H. Chudler is a research neuroscientist interested in the neuroactive properties of medicinal plants and herbs and how the brain processes information about pain and nociception. He received his Ph.D. from the Department of Psychology at the University of Washington in Seattle in 1985. He has worked at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. (1986-1989) and in the Department of Neurosurgery at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Mass. (1989-1991). Chudler is currently a research associate professor in the Department of Bioengineering and the executive director of the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering. He is also a faculty member in the Department of Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine and the Graduate Program of Neurobiology and Behavior at the University of Washington. In addition to performing basic neuroscience research, he works with other neuroscientists and classroom teachers to develop educational materials to help K-12 students learn about the brain.

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Laura J Collins Center for Research and Learning

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Dr. Laura Collins, from the Center for Research and Learning, has extensive experience of over 20 years in program evaluation and research. Her work includes proposal design, evaluation and research planning, needs assessment, data collection, both qualitative and quantitative analysis, and tailored reporting. She also has taught at two major universities and has expertise in educational methods, curriculum, and instruction.

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Jill Lynn Weber The Center for Research and Learning

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Jill Weber is a graduate of the University of Nebraska and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication Studies and English. She worked as a Project Manager in Information Technology as well as in the Marketing group at AT&T Wireless, and was a corporate trainer for new hires. During her time at AT&T, Weber was in charge of managing large cross-company project teams and several large technology projects.
In 2005, Weber completed the University of Washington Certificate in Program Evaluation. Currently, she uses her experience and knowledge to provide personal service to programs so that they can become more effective and better understand their outcomes.

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Lise Johnson The Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering

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Lise Johnson is the University Education Manager at the National Science Foundation-funded Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering as well as an active researcher in the University of Washington Department of Neurological Surgery.

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Impacts of a Neural Engineering Summer Research Experience on High School Students (Evaluation)Neural engineering is a cutting edge field focused on improving lives by connecting brains withtechnology. It brings together expertise across many engineering specialties along with robotics,mathematics, neuroscience, medicine, bioethics, and more. This interdisciplinary nature, as wellas the goal of helping people with disabilities, can strongly appeal to STEM-interested students.The Young Scholars Program (YSP) is a mentored summer research experience that immerseshigh school students into the world of neural engineering. The Center for ___________ at theUniversity of _______ has hosted the YSP since 2012. As of Summer 2014, seventeen studentshave participated in the program. The goals of the program are to increase awareness andknowledge about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields in generaland sensorimotor neural engineering in particular, and to inspire a diverse group of students topursue sensorimotor neural engineering as a future career path.Young Scholars spend ten weeks in a neural engineering lab, under the guidance of a mentor. Inthe lab setting, students work on an independent research project. Participants also attend aweekly scientific communications class, seminars, and special events. At the culmination of theexperience, Young Scholars present a research talk to the university research community andparticipate in a poster session at the university-wide Undergraduate Research Symposium.In this paper, we describe the implementation of the Young Scholars Program, the design of theprogram evaluation, our findings, and lessons learned. A post-program retrospective survey wasadministered to all participants at the end of each summer session and follow-up phoneinterviews were conducted each year with a sample of YSP participants. Yearly evaluationfindings as well as trends over the program’s three year history were investigated.Overall, evaluation data suggest that the YSP provided high school students the opportunity togain an understanding of sensorimotor neural engineering and interact with other high school,undergraduate, and graduate students and faculty in a university setting. This environment notonly stimulated interest in neural engineering, but also exposed participants to cutting-edgeinnovations and introduced them to research and lab skills—skills not typically taught in highschool. The program helped students make decisions about their college major and increasedtheir awareness of careers in neural engineering. The YSP provided a platform for students todiscover possible career options in the field. Student comments indicate that a vertical mentoringchain was evident in the labs. Students self-reported increases in the following skill sets:fundamentals of neuroscience, neural engineering, and neuroethics research (knowledge andpractices); neural engineering best practices (personal skills); and connections to neuralengineering industry and careers (professional skills). The results of the program evaluation arereviewed annually by program staff, providing some lessons learned that can be used to refinethe program on an ongoing basis. 

Clapper Bergsman, K. M., & Chudler, E. H., & Collins, L. J., & Weber, J. L., & Johnson, L. (2015, June), Impacts of a Neural Engineering Summer Research Experience on High School Students (Evaluation) Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24231

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