Asee peer logo

Undergraduate Research Experiences: Qualitative Results from a Multi-Year Survey

Download Paper |


2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Graduate Student Needs and Experiences, Exploring Graduate Funding and Undergraduate Research Experiences

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Tagged Topic


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Robert N. Coffey Jr. University of Michigan

visit author page

Robert Coffey, Ph.D. is a Project Manager for University Housing at the University of Michigan. A recent graduate of the Higher Adult Lifelong Education program at Michigan State, Robert’s dissertation investigated the experiences of international students who hired education agents to assist them in applying to college or university in Canada. Robert has worked for over fifteen years across multiple functional areas, including conflict management, multicultural/LGBTQ student services, residential life/housing, and undergraduate research. He has presented at academic and professional conferences in Canada, China, the U.K., and the U.S. Robert consults regularly with government agencies, policy centers, and postsecondary institutions in the U.S. and Canada. Robert holds a B.A. in Canadian Studies from the University of Vermont, a, M.A. in History from the University of Maine, and an M.P.A. (Public Administration) from the University of New Hampshire.

visit author page


Katy Luchini-Colbry Michigan State University

visit author page

Katy Luchini-Colbry is the Director for Graduate Initiatives at the College of Engineering at Michigan State University, where she completed degrees in political theory and computer science. A recipient of a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, she earned Ph.D. and M.S.E. in computer science and engineering from the University of Michigan. She has published more than two dozen peer-reviewed works related to her interests in educational technology and enhancing undergraduate education through hands-on learning. Luchini-Colbry is also the Director of the Engineering Futures Program of Tau Beta Pi, the Engineering Honor Society, which provides interactive seminars on interpersonal communications and problem solving skills for engineering students across the U.S.

visit author page

Download Paper |


The paper proposed here would fit into one of these possible session topics: 2. Inspiring under-graduate students to pursue graduate degrees / research; 5. Graduate student recruitment; 12. Potpourri; other related Graduate Studies topics.


“The Freedom of Answering Questions My Way”: An Exploration of Students’ Qualitative Experiences as Undergraduate Researchers


We identify and discuss themes that emerged from a study of undergraduates participating in a summer research program at a large, research-intensive university in the Midwest. The goals of this study were: (1) to examine the degree to which program participation diverted students from non-academic/research summer; (2) to better understand students’ goals for participating in the program; and (3) to assess student satisfaction with the research experience. Students were asked to complete pre- and post-experience surveys; these two survey instruments were deployed during multiple summer programs over a four-year time period (2011-2014), resulting in four sets of pre- and post-survey data from more than 300 students. Student responses to short-answer survey questions were analyzed using a web-based application for mixed methods research. This analysis of the qualitative survey data for this multi-year project compliments prior findings from the quantitative portions of the survey about the benefits of participating in undergraduate research experiences. The results presented here suggest that well-structured summer research programs may be a successful intervention strategy to engage and retain students in STEM, and offer practical suggestions for faculty and administrators of these types of research programs.

Coffey, R. N., & Luchini-Colbry, K. (2016, June), Undergraduate Research Experiences: Qualitative Results from a Multi-Year Survey Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27093

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2016 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015