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Targeted Recruiting and Home Institution Mentor Model for REU Sites

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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

NSF Grantees Poster Session II

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Stephanie M. George PhD East Carolina University

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Stephanie M. George received her BS in Engineering Science and Mechanics from Virginia Tech and her PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Georgia Tech and Emory University. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Engineering at East Carolina University and holds an active NSF REU award; Biomedical Engineering in Simulations, Imaging and Modeling (BME-SIM).

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Nathaniel Paul von der Embse Temple University

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Dr. Nathaniel P. von der Embse is an assistant professor of school psychology at Temple University. Dr. von der Embse utilizes a social justice framework to examine the intersection of education policy and school mental health. His research is focused in three primary areas including: (1) an examination of teacher stress and student test anxiety surrounding high-stakes exams, (2) the creation and validation of internalizing behavior and socio-emotional wellness screening assessments, and (3) the training of teachers and schools in population-based assessment methods (e.g., universal mental health screening, Mental Health First Aid) to inform tiered and targeted intervention.

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Zachary J Domire East Carolina University

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Zachary Domire completed his B.S. (Honors), M.S., and Ph.D. in Kinesiology at The Pennsylvania State University. Following completion of his Ph.D., he took a faculty position in The Department of Kinesiology and Health at The University of Wyoming. After three years in this position, he decided to pursue a more research intensive career path and undertook postdoctoral training in Biomedical Engineering at The Mayo Clinic. In 2009, he began a faculty position in the Department of Health, Exercise, and Sport Sciences at Texas Tech University. In January 2012, Dr. Domire joined East Carolina University as an Associate Professor in Department of Kinesiology. Dr. Domire’s work focuses on the impact of tissue material properties on physiological and mechanical function. He also conducts research on computer simulation of human movement.

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Introduction: The main goal of the NSF REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) program is to provide meaningful research experiences to undergraduates, who may not otherwise have the opportunity, to increase matriculation in STEM careers and graduate school. Additionally, the inclusion of under-represented groups (minorities, low socio-economic status, first generation students, veterans and women) will serve to broaden the STEM talent pool. To this end, we present a model for targeted recruiting and home institution mentoring.

Recruitment and Mentoring: While we recruit nationwide through various mechanisms (email campaigns, flyers at conferences, and website), we target recruitment at four universities; three historically black universities (73-78% African-American) and one serving a large Native American population (16%). We have identified key faculty at the targeted institutions to help advertise the program and serve as home institution mentors to students from their respective schools. The objective of the home institution mentors is to engage participants for longer than the 10 week summer research experience. The mentors provide initial pre-program mentoring on literature review, research process, and program expectations; and continued mentoring following the program on conference presentations. For students not enrolled at a target institution, home mentors are identified upon acceptance. Assessment: After acceptance, students are electronically introduced to their home institution mentors and asked to schedule a meeting. Interactions with home institution mentors are self-reported by students in a pre-program survey. Students are requested to meet with their home institution mentor after the program to discuss the experience and prepare for conference presentations. These interactions are captured in follow-up surveys.

Results: In the 2014 and 2015 application cycles, 16% and 7% of applicants, respectively, and 25% of final participants were from targeted institutions. Demographics from the 2014 and 2015 application cycles were 30% and 26% under-represented minorities, respectively, and 55% female. In both cycles, final participants were 37.5% minority and 50% female. The accelerated time frame of the first year limited the pre-program preparation. In a follow-up survey for the 2014 cohort, 3 of 6 respondents continue to interact with their home institution mentor reporting frequencies of 2-7 times per month. The 2015 cohort had greater time for pre-program preparation, 88% interacted with their home institution mentor through multiple avenues (in person, email, phone) and 86% of students rated the interaction as good or very good. The follow-up survey for this cohort has not yet been completed.

Challenges and Path Forward: The majority of our applicants are coming from our national campaign. To improve applications from our targeted institutions we are planning recruitment visits for each school, which has worked well in the past for one targeted institutions. To increase our under-represented minority applications we are planning a social media campaign posting to minority science and engineering societies, and increasing targeting of our email campaign to minority serving institutions. The preliminary data on home institution mentors is promising as students have found it beneficial and have continued interactions beyond the summer program.

George, S. M., & von der Embse, N. P., & Domire, Z. J. (2016, June), Targeted Recruiting and Home Institution Mentor Model for REU Sites Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27349

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