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Work in Progress: Design Considerations for an International Research Program for Students: Learning from Existing Programs

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

International Research Experiences Intl Div Tech Session 8

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Nicole P. Sanderlin Virginia Tech Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Sanderlin serves as the Director of Global Engagement for Virginia Tech's College of Engineering. She provides leadership for international initiatives and works closely with engineering faculty to develop new institutional partnerships and international opportunities for engineering students. Her research focuses on internationalization of higher education, faculty engagement, and international program assessment.

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Kirsten A. Davis Virginia Tech Orcid 16x16

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Kirsten Davis is a Ph.D. candidate in Engineering Education and an M.S. student in Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech. She is the graduate assistant for the Rising Sophomore Abroad Program, a global engineering course and study abroad program for first year engineering students. Her primary research focuses on the design and assessment of global engineering programs, but she also studies the development of systems thinking skills in engineering students. Kirsten was recently awarded the Harold Josephson award for professional promise in international education by the Association of International Education Administrators. She holds a B.S. in Engineering & Management from Clarkson University and an M.A.Ed. in Higher Education from Virginia Tech. 

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David B Knight Virginia Tech Orcid 16x16

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David B. Knight is an Associate Professor and Assistant Department Head of Graduate Programs in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. He is also Director of Research of the Academy for Global Engineering at Virginia Tech, and is affiliate faculty with the Higher Education Program. His research tends to be at the macro-scale, focused on a systems-level perspective of how engineering education can become more effective, efficient, and inclusive, tends to be data-driven by leveraging large-scale institutional, state, or national data sets, and considers the intersection between policy and organizational contexts. He has B.S., M.S., and M.U.E.P. degrees from the University of Virginia and a Ph.D. in Higher Education from Pennsylvania State University.

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Developing global competence is important for engineering students, but many students find it challenging to participate in traditional study abroad programs for financial or scheduling reasons [1]. These concerns can be addressed through international research experiences, which not only support the development of students’ global competence [2], but also provide benefits and opportunities for faculty members. The purpose of this study is to explore the benefits, opportunities and challenges that faculty members identify to leading an international research experience for undergraduate and graduate engineering students. U.S.-based faculty and a sample of international partners from nine NSF-funded International Research Experiences for Students (IRES) programs were interviewed to understand how they have structured their programs and what the outcomes of the programs have been for students and their own research. Programs were chosen to reflect a diversity in length of the IRES grant, global region of the international partner institution where the students traveled for the research experience, as well as U.S. institution.

This work-in-progress paper will compare the structure of these nine programs and identify best practices in the coordination of international research programs. We will discuss a variety of program design decisions including pre-program orientation activities, student deliverables, in-country logistics, and unique program features. We will also explore how IRES and resulting research collaborations have influenced both faculty members’ research and the departments and colleges hosting the IRES programs. Engaging engineering faculty members in designing and running global engineering programs can often be challenging, but international research programs offer a structure that can benefit both faculty and students.

Sanderlin, N. P., & Davis, K. A., & Knight, D. B. (2020, June), Work in Progress: Design Considerations for an International Research Program for Students: Learning from Existing Programs Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35626

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