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Student Learning Outcomes from an Environmental Engineering Summer Research Program

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Interdisciplinary Experiences and Assessment in Environmental Engineering

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1186.1 - 25.1186.21



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Paper Authors


Angela R. Bielefeldt University of Colorado, Boulder

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Angela Bielefeldt, Ph.D., P.E., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering at the University of Colorado, Boulder (CU). She was attracted into environmental engineering as a high school student participating in a summer research program at Iowa State University. While at CU, she has mentored more than 30 undergraduate student research projects.

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STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOMES DURING ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING SUMMER RESEARCH PROGRAMAbstractIntensive summer research programs have the opportunity to help students achieve a widevariety of learning outcomes, while also deepening their interest in graduate school andincreasing their overall confidence. This research explores the learning outcomes from an NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) site in environmental engineering. Theten-week REU site included lab, field, and modeling projects on the quality and treatment ofwater, soil, and air. The participant demographics were over-represented compared to theapplicant pool for females (54%) and minorities (~13-18%/grant cycle). The majority of thestudent participants were majoring in environmental and/or civil engineering (62%), with anumber of students from other engineering majors (17% chemical, mechanical, biological) andsciences (chemistry, physics, environmental science, biology, geology).Demographics of Participants in Environmental Engineering REU Site at __ UniversityYears # % % % non PhD % non host % students female minority school school Fr /So / Jr / Sr2000-2004 39 79 21 13 79 0 / 26 / (64)2006-2008 30 73 27 33 90 0 / 50 / 43 / 72010-2011 19 79 42 37 76 5 / 32 / 37 / 26Rigorous pre- and post- surveys were initiated in 2006. The pre- and post- surveys includedLikert-based questions where students rated their knowledge, abilities, and likelihood ofpursuing MS and PhD degrees (scale 0 = none to 4=excellent). Comparing the pre- and post-ratings of knowledge and skills, 9 of 26 items showed significant gains in 2010 compared to 14items in 2011 (p<0.05) were foundbetween non-Hispanic whites vs. minorities (22 items), freshman+ sophomores vs.juniors+seniors (13 items), students with minimal vs. extensive previous research experience (14items), and civil+ environmental engineering majors compared to non-engineering majors (5items). No gender differences were found. Surveys were also administered to faculty mentorsand additional mentors (post-doctoral researchers, graduate students). Student from alldemographics (age, major, etc.) could be successful given appropriate mentoring. Further datawill be presented and elaborated on in the full paper.

Bielefeldt, A. R. (2012, June), Student Learning Outcomes from an Environmental Engineering Summer Research Program Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21943

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