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Student Satisfaction and Perceptions of Summer REU Experience in an Engineering/Communicative Disorders Focused Site at Program Midpoint

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Todd Freeborn The University of Alabama

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Todd Freeborn is an Associate Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. He regularly teaches courses in circuit analysis, circuit networks, and microcomputers. Through NSF funding, he has coordinated REU Sites for engineering students to explore renewable resources and speech pathology and an IRES site focused on fractional-order circuits in collaboration with the Brno University of Technology in Czechia. He is also the coordinator for an NSF S-STEM program to prepare students for gateway courses across different disciplines of engineering to support and retain students in these disciplines. His research focuses on techniques to collect and analyze the electrical impedance of biological tissues and their potential applications.

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Memorie Gosa

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Memorie M. Gosa, PhD, CCC-SLP, BCS-S is a pediatric speech-language pathologist, board certified specialist in swallowing and swallowing disorders, and associate professor and Chair of the Communicative Disorders Department at The University of Alabama. She has more than twenty years of clinical experience in pediatric dysphagia. Her research focuses on exploring the reliability and validity of common assessment tools and treatment techniques used in the diagnosis and management of dysphagia in pediatric populations. She has published book chapters, a co-edited textbook, and peer-reviewed papers on these topics and she frequently presents both nationally and internationally on the topic of pediatric dysphagia. She maintains a small clinical practice at The University of Alabama Speech and Hearing Center and in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of Druid City Hospital in Tuscaloosa, AL.

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Debra McCallum

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Debra McCallum is a Senior Research Social Scientist and Director of the Institute for Social Science Research at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. She received her Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and conducts research evaluating education and community intervention programs and investigating social issues, such as career choices related to STEM fields, social-psychological aspects of health behavior and outcomes, and safety and well-being of children and youth. She has contributed to numerous NSF-funded programs, including REU, S-STEM, SFS, LSAMP, and IRES through evaluation and social science research activities.

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Erika Steele The University of Alabama

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Erika Steele earned a Ph.D. in Science Education in 2013 from the University of Alabama (UA). She currently works as a research associate at the Institute of Social Science Research at UA.

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Participating in a research experience for undergraduates (REU) site provides opportunities for students to develop their research and technical skills, network with other REU students/professors, raise their awareness of graduate studies, and understand the social context of research. In support of this mission, our REU site at the University of Alabama is exploring research at the intersection of engineering and communicative disorders. Students from engineering and computer science from across the country are recruited to support projects with a sensor and signal processing focus to support a need in communicative disorders under the mentorship of two faculty, one from engineering and another from communicative disorders. Beyond research training this site coordinates professional development workshops (networking training, graduate school applications, poster development, communications skills), clinical shadowing, social activities, and cultural activities (visit to local museums and state cultural sites) to enrich the student experience. To understand participants satisfaction with the program, their research, and specific program elements their feedback is solicited using an online survey (using quantitative and open-ended questions) and a focus group facilitated by the program evaluators at the end of their program participation. After 2 summer iterations of this REU site in 2019 and 2021 a total of 20 students have participated in the program. This work will provide an overview of the REU site and detail the reported student satisfaction with the overall experience, workshop and shadowing experiences, faculty mentoring experiences, research experience, perceived learning gains, and impact on interest in graduate school. Additionally, comparisons between 2019 and 2021 student feedback related to program elements that were revised between iterations will be completed to evaluate the impact of these revisions on the student experience. This analysis, which comes at the program midpoint, will identify program elements that students feel contribute most to their experience and elements that could be improved. These details will inform the design and execution of the 3rd iteration of the REU site at the University of Alabama and help other REU coordinators identify successful program elements that could support their own site goals.

Freeborn, T., & Gosa, M., & McCallum, D., & Steele, E. (2022, August), Student Satisfaction and Perceptions of Summer REU Experience in an Engineering/Communicative Disorders Focused Site at Program Midpoint Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN.

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