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The Impact of International Research Experiences on Undergraduate Learning

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

International Division Technical Session 5

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Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1544.1 - 26.1544.27



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Paper Authors


Cheryl Matherly The University of Tulsa

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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.

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Sarah R. Phillips Rice University

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Sarah Phillips is the Education and International Initiatives Manager for the National Science Foundation Partnerships for International Research and Education (NSF-PIRE) ”U.S.- Japan Cooperative Research and Education on Terahertz Dynamics in Nanostructures” grant at Rice University. In collaboration with the PI and Education Director, she manages all aspects of the NanoJapan: International Research Experience for Undergraduates Program. Since 2006, this program has sent 130 young U.S. engineering and physics students to Japan for research, language, and cultural study. She 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.

Prior to her position 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.

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Cody A. Chapman University of Tulsa

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

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The Impact of International Research Experiences on Undergraduate Learning This paper compares the learning outcomes for students participating in domestic andinternational research experiences. The researchers compare the experiences of studentsparticipating in two Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) programs funded by theNational Science Foundation; the NanoJapan International REU Program and the Rice QuantumInstitute REU at Rice University. NanoJapan is a twelve-week international research programthrough which twelve freshman and sophomore physics and engineering students completenanotechnology research internships in labs at Japanese universities. The RQI is a ten-weekdomestic research program in which sophomore and junior students complete quantum-relatedresearch internships with faculty at Rice University. The study uses indirect and directassessment measures to assess student learning outcomes for participants in summers 2013 and2014 on the following key measures: 1. General knowledge, skills, and attitudes towards their research internship 2. Self-efficacy or confidence related to their research internship 3. Attitudes towards working as part of intercultural teamsStudents completed pre- and post-program assessments using the: a) Georgia Institute of Technology International Internship Survey: Measures how students assess their preparation and skills required for an internship, and of their workplace self-efficacy; b) Intercultural Development Inventory: Assesses intercultural competence at the individual, group and organizational level; c) Engineering Global Preparedness Index: Measures engineering students' preparedness to work in global workforces, and d) Research Poster Presentations: Evaluated by expert judges according to a standardized rubric. The data indicate that both programs are satisfying their objectives to prepare students withthe knowledge and skills relevant for future graduate study and research careers in science andengineering. The differences between the groups are perhaps more interesting. The NanoJapanstudents demonstrate gains on important measures related to global preparedness and on surveyitems related to specific intercultural skills and abilities. This may be attributed to NanoJapancurriculum that encourages participants to actively reflect on cultural aspects of research and tothe nature of the international experience itself. Moreover, the NanoJapan experience may moreclosely mirror the typical global workforce/team experience students will encounter upongraduation. The researchers will discuss implications for the design of international research andinternship experiences.

Matherly, C., & Phillips, S. R., & Chapman, C. A. (2015, June), The Impact of International Research Experiences on Undergraduate Learning Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24881

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