July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
In 2019, as part of a research-focused grant from the National Science Foundation that combines computational and experimental work, a chemical engineering department at a large research university in the mid-Atlantic states allocated funds to create an undergraduate research experience program. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, this program was intended to allow students from the university’s multiple campuses to gain experience in research, providing opportunities that they may not have at their home campus. The intention of the original proposal was for students at campuses to remotely engage in computational-based research during the fall and spring semesters, while engaging in in-person research at the university’s main campus during the summer. The COVID-19 pandemic and the need to engage remotely shifted these plans, such that the research experience was held in a full remote format during Summer of 2020. The purpose of this proposed paper is to describe the research experience and its evaluation. A case-study approach was used to gather perceptions of three students who engaged in the remote research experience during summer of 2020.
The following research questions were used to guide the evaluation of the remote research experience: 1) What are students’ perceived benefits of participating in the research experience, in terms of acquisition of technical and professional skills?, 2) What benefits and challenges did students perceive regarding participation in a remote research experience? and 3) How can the remote research experience be improved for future students?
Both qualitative and quantitative forms of data were collected in order to answer these questions. Although the sample size is very small at this point in the project (n=3), we intend to combine data across years to reach a larger sample. Students were asked to complete a pre- and post-survey online. Questions on the pre-survey focused on any concerns that they might have about the program, including its remote nature and reasons they decided to participate. In addition, three scales were included that were intended to measure students’ engineering identity (or the likelihood that they identify themselves as being engineers), their engineering self-efficacy (or the confidence they have in being an engineer), and their interest in various research activities. Questions on the post-survey asked about perceived benefits of the research experience, how the research experience impacted career interests, and then also included the same three scales on identity, self-efficacy, and research interest.
In addition to the survey, all three students participated in an interview with the evaluator at the end of the summer 2020 experience. The purpose of this interview was to further explore their perceptions of the research experience. Questions in the interview asked about benefits and challenges of the research experience, benefits and challenges of participating remotely, and suggestions for future experiences. The full paper will discuss the results of both the surveys and the interviews and discuss the practical implications for future researchers and practitioners on how to conduct remote undergraduate research experience programs.
Zappe, S. E., & Gomez, E. D., & Milner, S. T., & Xia, Y. (2021, July), Work in Progress: Evaluation of a Remote Undergraduate Research Experience in Chemical Engineering Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/38153
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: © 2021 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