June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
Cooperative & Experiential Education
26.946.1 - 26.946.22
Increasing Student and Faculty Participation in an Undergraduate STEM Summer Research Program in a Government Institution through a Higher Education PartnershipAbstractThis paper describes steps taken to increase participation in an undergraduate STEM SummerResearch Program at the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT), a government institution.These steps are taken during the third year of an ongoing process to transform the undergraduateprogram. A partnership among AFIT, the LEADER (Launching Equity in the Academy acrossthe Dayton Entrepreneurial Region) Consortium, and the Southwestern Ohio Consortium forHigher Education (SOCHE) was established to assess the students’ experiences and to informfuture experiences based upon the results of surveys conducted annually since 2012. SOCHEhas employed nearly 1,000 STEM students in the past 25 years.In 2012, a formal assessment tool was distributed to the students for the first time to measure theimpact of the research experience. Also in 2012, a formal assessment tool was distributed to theFaculty Advisors of the students for the first time to measure the research experience of thestudents from their advisors’ perspective. Following the student survey results in the 2012Program, we identified the following four broad needs expressed by the students: (1) A desire formentors with increased organization and communication among SOCHE, AFIT, and thestudents; (2) A desire for increased interactions with other students; (3) A desire to improve theirCV or resume at the beginning of the program; (4) A desire to gain engineering experience,skills, and confidence in research.In the 2013 Program, we introduced and implemented four new voluntary components inresponse to the student needs. Because of government restrictions, the participation of students inthe components is voluntary, and students were encouraged to participate by SOCHE. Thesetransformational components are: (A) A joint orientation process with SOCHE and AFIT ProjectLeaders; (B) Student cohorts through social activities and STEM-based games; (C) A weeklyseminar meeting with outside presentations of general interest; and (D) A Poster Session so thatstudents can present the engineering experiences they have gained. Selected students wereawarded “Posters of Excellence” Certificates in a poster competition.Student response rates in the 2013 Program were low to both a pre-survey administered bySOCHE when the program was in session and to a post-survey following the program (pre-survey response rate: 33%; post-survey response rate: 16%). While participation in the JointOrientation was nearly 100%, student participation in the other 11 one-hour weekly events waslow (13%).This paper describes increased student and faculty participation in the 2014 Program. The 2014Program comprised 50 students and 14 Faculty Advisors. The 50 participating students is thelargest number of students since the start of our assessment effort (The 2013 Program comprised43 students, and the 2012 Program comprised 48 students). SOCHE continues to advertise theresearch internships conducted at the Federal Government Institution throughout southwesternOhio.In the 2014 Program, we introduced and implemented a fifth component. This component is: (E)Counseling. This component provides personal interaction among the students and SOCHE atthe Government Institution (where the students are pursuing their research projects). In thiscomponent, the Director of SOCHE drove to the Government Institution for one day(Wednesday) each week and spent four hours meeting informally with students and answeringstudent questions regarding the Program. Approximately 20 students met the Director each day.In addition to introducing Component (E), we also standardized the location and time of eachevent in the four components (A)-(D). Each event was held at the same time (noon-1pm) eachweek in the same location. The consistency of the programming helped the students remembereach weekly event and contributed to increased participation.This paper will describe the new component (E) and additional steps taken to increase studentparticipation in the five components in the 2014 Program. This paper will also describe stepstaken to increase faculty participation in the Faculty Advisor survey.In the 2014 Program, student participation increased in each component. Nearly 100% of thestudents participated in the Joint Orientation. Thirteen of the 50 students (26%) participated inthe Kayak trip; 18 students (36%) participated in the resume workshop; and 21 students (42%)participated in the Poster Preparation Session. Seventeen students (34%) prepared 12 posters forthe Poster Session, compared with the participation of 9 out of 43 students (21%) who togetherprepared 7 posters in the 2013 Poster Session (a Poster Session was not held in the 2012Program). Faculty participation in the 2014 Faculty Advisor survey is 11 out of 13 on-campusfaculty (85%) (One faculty transferred out of the country prior to the administration of theFaculty Advisor Survey and was not able to be surveyed). The increased faculty participationrate in the 2014 Program compares favorably to the Faculty Advisor response rate of 56% in the2013 Program and 61% in the 2012 Program.Our capability to strengthen the program focuses on incorporating feedback from the students,who are government contractors, and incorporating feedback from the Faculty Advisors in orderto inform best practices in workforce development. Additional results and findings of theassessment of the 2014 Summer Research Program will be discussed, and the results andfindings will be compared with results from the 2012 Program and 2013 Program.
Lanzerotti, M. Y., & Creighton, S. J., & Varga, M., & Martin, R., & Langley, D., & Cahill, D. L. (2015, June), Increasing Student and Faculty Participation and Student Learning in an Undergraduate STEM Summer Research Program in a Government Institution through a Higher Education Partnership Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24283
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