Asee peer logo

Measuring The Impact Of Undergraduate Research Programs On Engineering Students' Attitudes Toward Graduate Studies

Download Paper |

Conference

2009 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Mentoring Graduate Students

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Page Count

9

Page Numbers

14.872.1 - 14.872.9

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/5199

Download Count

24

Request a correction

Paper Authors

biography

Linda Hirsch New Jersey Institute of Technology

visit author page

Linda S. Hirsch is the Program Evaluator in the Center for Pre-College programs. She has a doctoral degree in educational psychology with a specialty in psychometrics and a Masters degree in statistics. She has been involved in all aspects of educational and psychological research for 15 years. Dr. Hirsch has extensive experience conducting longitudinal research studies and is proficient in database management, experimental design, instrument development, psychometrics and statistical programming.

visit author page

biography

John Carpinelli New Jersey Institute of Technology

visit author page

John D. Carpinelli is a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Director of the Center for Pre-College Programs at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He has served as coordinator of activities at NJIT for the Gateway Engineering Education Coalition and as a member of the Coalition's Governing Board. He previously chaired NJIT's Excellence in Teaching Awards Committee and is past chair of the University Master Teacher Committee.

visit author page

biography

Howard Kimmel New Jersey Institute of Technology

visit author page

Howard Kimmel is Professor of Chemical Engineering and Executive Director of the Center for Pre-College Programs at New Jersey Institute of Technology. He has spent the past thirty years designing and implementing professional development programs and curricula for K-12 teachers in science and technology. At the college level, he collaborates on projects exploring teaching methodologies and assessment strategies in first-year college courses in the sciences, engineering, and computer science.

visit author page

biography

Angelo Perna New Jersey Institute of Technology

visit author page

Angelo J Perna is Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering and Director of the Ronald E. McNair Program at New Jersey Institute of Technology. He is the recipient of over seventy five recognition awards for service, recognition and research. In addition to having served as President of Omega Chi Epsilon and The Association of College Honor Societies he is a Fellow of The American Institute of Chemical Engineers and The American Society of Engineering Education. His research interests are in the areas of Soil Remediation and K to 20 Education.

visit author page

biography

Kwabena Narh New Jersey Institute of Technology

visit author page

Kwabena Albert Narh is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Associate Chairperson of the Mechanical Engineering Department at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He has served as the coordinator for an NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates site in structured particulates, as well as a Research Experience for Teachers program at NJIT. His disciplinary research focuses on polymers and structured organic particulates.

visit author page

Download Paper |

Abstract
NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Measuring the Impact of Undergraduate Research Programs on Engineering Students’ Attitudes toward Graduate Studies Abstract

Attitudes toward graduate studies are an often overlooked, but potentially important factor in undergraduate engineering students’ decisions of whether or not to pursue graduate studies in engineering. Graduate work, especially the Ph.D., requires extensive research, a skill not often emphasized in undergraduate engineering programs. A survey was developed to measure engineering students’ attitudes toward graduate studies and examine the reasons students choose to not attend graduate school. The psychometric properties of the survey have been examined and are published elsewhere. The survey has been used to measure the effect(s) undergraduate research programs have on engineering students’ attitudes toward graduate studies. Students who participated in the research programs showed increased attitudes from the beginning to the end of their programs and had significantly higher attitudes toward graduate studies than a group of students who did not participate in the programs. Research opportunities for undergraduates have expanded over the past several years with the initiation of federally funded programs such as Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) and the Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program. During each of the last three years, New Jersey Institute of Technology has hosted two separate REUs as well as a McNair Program. Data across all three years have been combined to further examine changes in students’ attitudes toward graduate studies after participating in one of the programs and to begin investigating possible differences between the students who attended the REU programs and the students who attended the McNair program. Students in the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program showed significantly higher attitudes toward graduate studies, were more positive about research and appeared more likely to pursue careers in academia.

Introduction

Factors that influence students’ decision to attend college, how they choose which college to attend, and the career paths they choose are fairly well known. However, less is known about why students choose to enroll in graduate programs and the level of the degree they pursue. The issues appear to be more complex. For example, deciding to pursue a graduate degree is a major commitment of time and money. Pursuing an undergraduate degree is usually done within a relatively specific timeframe, whereas there are several unknowns in pursuit of a graduate degree, especially the Ph.D., to the point where it can almost be considered an “endurance contest.” Graduate work, especially the Ph.D., requires intense work and research -- a much more demanding course load than a typical undergraduate program1, or even a Masters program, which tends to deter many students.

Other factors that influence enrollments in graduate programs, particularly engineering programs include the lack of growth in undergraduate engineering enrollment and graduation rates that limit the pool of eligible applicants to graduate engineering programs2. Studies have been reported on retention and attrition of students in undergraduate programs3. Among the many factors related to why students decide to pursue (or not to pursue) careers in engineering is their lack of knowledge regarding engineers and what they actually do. One approach to

Hirsch, L., & Carpinelli, J., & Kimmel, H., & Perna, A., & Narh, K. (2009, June), Measuring The Impact Of Undergraduate Research Programs On Engineering Students' Attitudes Toward Graduate Studies Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/5199

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: © 2009 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