June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
26.894.1 - 26.894.21
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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