Asee peer logo

International vs. Domestic Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU): A Three-Year Assessment of the Preparation of Students for Global Workforces

Download Paper |


2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

International Division Technical Session 8

Tagged Division


Tagged Topic


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Cheryl Matherly The University of Tulsa

visit author page

Dr. Cheryl Matherly is Vice Provost for Global Education at The University of Tulsa, where she has responsibility for the strategic leadership of the university’s plan for comprehensive internationalization. Dr. Matherly’ co-directs the NanoJapan program, funded by the National Science Foundation in order to expand international research opportunities for students in STEM fields. She is the recipient of two Fulbright grants for international education administrators (Germany and Japan.) She has an Ed.D. in Education Leadership and Culture Studies from the University of Houston.

visit author page


Gisele Ragusa University of Southern California

visit author page

Gisele Ragusa is a Professor of Engineering Education at the University of Southern California. She conducts research on college transitions and retention of underrepresented students in engineering and also research about engineering global preparedness and engineering innovation. She also has research expertise in STEM K-12 and in STEM assessment. She chairs USC's STEM Consortium.

visit author page


Sarah R. Phillips Rice University & University of Hawaii - Manoa

visit author page

Sarah Phillips is the Education Program Manager (U.S.) for the Nakatani RIES: Research & International Experience for Students Fellowship which connects undergraduates with the best of science & engineering research in the U.S. or Japan. The program serves as a catalyst for U.S. & Japanese students interested in future graduate study and research and contributes to the development of a generation of globally-engaged scientists & engineers who have the technical and culture skills to contribute to vibrant international research collaborations in the future. The Nakatani RIES Program is organized by the Nakatani Foundation and is implemented by the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at Rice University.

She previously served as the Education and International Initiatives Manager for the National Science Foundation Partnerships for International Research and Education (NSF-PIRE) funded NanoJapan: International Research Experience for Undergraduates Program. From 2006 - 2014, this program has provided opportunities for 144 young U.S. engineering and physics students conduct nanoscience research in Japan.

Prior to her positions at Rice, she worked at the Institute of International Education (IIE) on the U.S. Department of State funded Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship and completed a brief assignment at the IIE office in Doha, Qatar. She received an M.L.A. in International Studies from the University of St. Thomas, Houston and a B.A. in History, Political Science, and East Asian Studies from Minnesota State University, Moorhead.

She currently works remotely from Honolulu, Hawaii where she is pursuing a PhD in Educational Foundations from the University of Hawaii at Manoa where her dissertation research will focus on international education for STEM students.

visit author page


Cody Alan Chapman University of Tulsa

visit author page

Cody Chapman is an M.A. student in Industrial/Organizational Psychology at the University of Tulsa.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Indicate up to three choices of session topics where you feel your paper will fit best.

1. Comparison and Assessment of Various Study Abroad Models in Achieving Global Competencies 2. Preparing engineering students for international practice 3. Global Research Opportunities in Engineering and Engineering-related fields

Title: International vs. Domestic Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU): A Three-Year Assessment of the Preparation of Students for Global Workforces

This paper compares three years of data measuring the learning outcomes for students participating in domestic and international research experiences in their ability to prepare students for global workforces. The researchers compare the experiences of students participating in two Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) programs funded by the National Science Foundation; the NanoJapan International REU Program and the Rice Quantum Institute (RQI) REU at Rice University. NanoJapan is a twelve-week international research program through which twelve freshman and sophomore physics and engineering students complete nanotechnology research internships in labs at Japanese universities. The RQI is a ten-week domestic research program in which sophomore and junior students complete quantum-related research internships with faculty at Rice University.

The students completed the Engineering Global Preparedness Index (EGPI), a multi-dimensional engineering global preparedness index that was used to measure students’ preparedness for global workforces. The EGPI= is designed to directly measure engineering students' preparedness for the global workforce. The four subscales in the EGPI directly align to important "professional skills" needed by both engineers and other globally prepared professionals. By comparing three-years of EGPI data among participants in a domestic and international research experience, the researchers seek to gain insight into what global workforce competencies were developed in an international setting in comparison with the experience of conducting research in a domestic lab setting, where U.S. students typically work side-by-side with international students, researchers, and faculty.

The data indicate that both programs are satisfying their objectives to prepare students with the knowledge and skills relevant for future graduate study and research careers in science and engineering. The differences between the groups are perhaps more interesting. Results indicate that the students in the NanoJapan program demonstrated greater increases in engineering global preparedness than the RQI students,. This may be attributed to NanoJapan curriculum that encourages participants to actively reflect on cultural aspects of research and to the nature of the international experience itself. Moreover, the NanoJapan experience may more closely mirror the typical global workforce/team experience students will encounter upon graduation.

Matherly, C., & Ragusa, G., & Phillips, S. R., & Chapman, C. A. (2016, June), International vs. Domestic Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU): A Three-Year Assessment of the Preparation of Students for Global Workforces Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27320

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2016 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015