June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.1509.1 - 12.1509.10
Undergraduate Research as a Motivation for Attending Graduate School
Abstract There is a clear problem at the university level in terms of directing students toward graduate schools. This problem is further complicated by the declining number of international graduate students’ enrollment in U.S. universities, who usually account for a high percentage of all graduate engineering students. Due to the more-restrictive visa policies of the government put in place immediately after September 11, 2001, the perception among overseas students is that getting a U.S. visa is virtually impossible. As a result, the number of foreign students applying to American universities continues to decline dramatically. Such decline will certainly have long-term economic implications.
It is therefore critical to increase the enrollment of U.S. students in graduate schools through motivation. From the standpoint of the individual, motivation is an internal state that leads to the pursuit of certain objectives. Personal motivation affects the initiation, direction intensity and persistence of efforts.
Undergraduate engineering research has gained significant popularity in many engineering schools in the past few years. Engineering research includes the aspect of pursuing a scientific topic, a hypothesis or an idea in a systematic rigorous fashion. This requires critical thinking in order to answer questions and to produce new and original knowledge. Another aspect of research is describing the intellectual activity and communicating the new knowledge both orally and in writing.
This paper describes a research program that was conducted by fourteen undergraduate mechanical engineering students during the past three and a half years; and it also assesses the motivation of the students toward graduate studies using a survey was administered to the students. The students agreed that the research experience developed their scientific research skills and their data collection, documentation and dissemination abilities and taught them the logic of an engineering conference and journal articles. They also reported that the research experience in general served as an introduction/orientation for what to be expected at the graduate level research, and that it was an excellent motivation for directing them toward graduate school. They also felt that the research training and preparation were not encountered in other engineering courses.
Recent trends point at the continued decline of the number of students attending graduate schools in the different engineering disciplines. There are two prime reasons for this. The first has to do with motivating and directing undergraduate engineering students to graduate programs. Grander  says: “There is a problem at the university level in terms of directing students into graduate school.” The word motivation, according to  refers to two different but related ideas. From the standpoint of the individual, motivation is an internal state that leads to the pursuit of certain objectives. Personal motivation affects the initiation, direction intensity and persistence of efforts. From the standpoint of the teacher, motivation is the process of getting the
Dukhan, N., & Jenkins, M. (2007, June), Undergraduate Research As A Motivation For Attending Graduate School Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1814
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