An aspiration of the current NanoSAFE REU program is to ensure that as many participants as possible engage in research to such an extent that they are co-authors on publications. New infrastructure, which includes frequent reporting, a strong peer-network, and training for secondary mentors, was implemented in the program in an effort to increase the research proficiency of the participants. With this increased focus on enhancing research proficiency, the — program has promising outcomes. Four of the 12 participants from the cohort became co-authors on research publications [ 27 — 30 ] and 5 of the 12 participants from the cohort have reported being included on manuscripts in preparation.
Other outcomes of the current REU program are worth noting. In the WVU Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium, all participants were assigned to the same poster discipline Nanoscience , with the outcome of one participant being awarded category winner and one being named runner up in the poster competition. In the WVU Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium, participants were assigned to four different judging disciplines Biological Science, Engineering, Health Science, Nanoscience , with the outcome of one participant being awarded category winner and two participants being named runner ups in the poster competition.
The program has already documented the awarding of an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, which is a highly competitive and prestigious award. Professional development is distributed throughout the week period of intensive research with training elements that include communication workshops e. Some of this infrastructure is provided through the WVU Office of Undergraduate Research, which seeks to sustain a vibrant summer undergraduate research environment through multiple research initiatives [ 31 ].
Recreational team-building exercises ropes course, Escape Room, white-water rafting are arranged on weekends to create a sense of community as a means to facilitate peer-mentoring. The role of secondary mentors in research training was supported in the NanoSAFE REU program and weekly training modeled after the Entering Mentoring seminar [ 32 ] was made available to graduate students who served as secondary mentors. A priority of the program is to bring students up to speed quickly. The first week is particularly rigorous as students are taught many concepts fundamental to engage in research.
This includes discussion on communicating the significance or innovation inherent in the research and the potential societal impact that makes the work valuable to pursue. The undergraduate researchers are also trained to differentiate scientific discovery from laboratory activity.
This is to convince them that discovery is integral to an authentic research experience; whereas, activity stalls growth and is counterproductive to the intellectual investment associated with research independence. Individuals in the REU program tour research labs the first day, having already been informed of the projects through a one-page description and recorded presentation outlining the goals of each project and are placed in a research lab by the second day. Safety training, research expectations, and library skills are delivered at onset.
At the close of the first week, each researcher prepares and delivers a min description of his or her understanding of their summer research. To help students comprehend their projects, research progress is documented weekly using structured presentations and weekly assessment self- and peer-. These weekly reporting meetings are facilitated with web-conferencing because the different research labs within WVU and NIOSH are not adjacent to each other, although they are co-located within Morgantown.
This eliminated the requirement for weekly travel and also provided a mechanism to record the weekly presentations. Weekly group meetings and review of recorded reports make this an iterative process where students become skilled at critiquing their own findings and those of their colleagues. The expectation is that the process enables the participant to draw conclusions independently with less intervention by the secondary mentor e. A structured slide format is used Fig. The template and short reporting time forces each participant to internally define features of a successful experiment for which the hypothesis test is designed appropriately.
The figure elements created each week are continually refined and collected to form the body of results presented in the final poster. This helps students to build a library of data figures and to develop their verbal and visual presentation skills throughout the week program, rather than at the end of the research experience. An example of a template for the weekly presentation slides. The purpose of the first slide is to specify project goals and summarize relevant discoveries made within the reporting time period, while the second slide presents the supporting data. The achievements of the WVU NanoSAFE undergraduate participants warranted an examination of skills and knowledge in order to identify specific aspects of the program that contribute the most to these outcomes.
Traditionally, REU programs are assessed using surveys to gain insight into student perception of progress. To provide insight into the potential of specific elements of program infrastructure to contribute to research proficiency, a combination of different quantitative and qualitative tools was administered. Students were given a survey reported previously [ 35 , 36 ], of which many of the questions were aligned with those reported in the Survey of Undergraduate Research Experiences [ 37 ].
The results of the survey indicate a high level of satisfaction and perceived gains in skills and knowledge associated with research proficiency.
Building a Broad Base of Knowledge
A perceived knowledge pre-survey based on a 6-point Likert scale was administered during the first day of the program pre and again on the last day of the program post. For each participant and question, perceived knowledge gains were calculated and then averaged.
All gains are statistically significant are denoted with an asterisk. Peer-assessment of posters was conducted to determine how students perceive their performance relative to other undergraduates motivated to succeed in research. All 12 participants in the cohort were assigned to 1 of 3 groups based on the similarity of the disciplinary session in which the poster of the participant was entered.
The results, summarized in Table S2 in the ESM, reveal that the NanoREU students viewed their performance as equivalent or better than those of other undergraduate researchers with similar or more research experience. These preliminary findings demonstrate that at the conclusion of the program, the NanoSAFE REU students had confidence in their performance relative to their broader peers also engaged in research. The findings from quantitative surveys provide evidence of research self-efficacy as students viewed themselves and their peers as competent researchers.
Evaluations of research accomplishments were also performed based on weekly reporting held using web-conferencing. The scores related to each presentation were averaged, and self-evaluations excluded. The results from peer assessment do not reveal significant gains because students rated themselves highly from program onset.
Although gains were not significant, the surveys revealed that students in the cohort were equally satisfied with the performance of their colleagues throughout the program, rating all categories high from onset and throughout the duration of the program see Tables S4 , S5 , S6 in the ESM. Narrated presentations were also evaluated for project ownership using qualitative assessment.
A qualitative analysis of language used during interviews revealed that undergraduate research experiences are more effective than teaching laboratories at fostering project ownership, that project ownership contributes to persistence in science, and that students express different degrees of project ownership [ 38 ]. Transcripts were analyzed using a closed coding system to categorize the data, looking specifically for language indicating ownership of the presentation, research ideas, research tasks, and research findings in order to document the degree to which each participant took individual ownership of the project, goals, or findings.
These transcripts were coded and then grouped based on emerging trends in language usage. The study involved qualitative analysis that focused on the qualitative manner in which participants used language. As this was not based on statistical data, no statistical significance can be calculated. However, the qualitative assessment of the narrated presentations, described in detail in the ESM, brought several points to light regarding project ownership. A principle finding is that each of the REU participants demonstrate ownership of their presentations, with all referring to themselves e.
This confirms that each student created his or her own slides. In maintaining ownership of their presentations, every undergraduate researcher exhibits a degree of independence regarding the experience. Results related to owning the research project are also informative. During the week period of research, of the 12 students that composed the cohort, 5 did not demonstrate any clear progression in ownership, while 3 began the program with a strong perception of independence that did not falter.
Only 4 of the 12 students either progressed or transitioned between individual and group ownership. There was no correlation between ownership of the research project and gender, ethnicity, or prior research experience. These results reflect the unique requirements of both research training and of nanotechnology. First, engaging in research training requires participating in an authentic research question beyond the boundary of what is known in the field. Entering researchers must experience research guided through mentoring in order to advance to a level that allows them to develop and design their own informed questions that push the boundaries of science.
Second, nanotechnology is founded at the cross-section of different disciplines. As a result, entering researchers are often embedded in research projects that require a broad range of disciplinary expertise. Success in this type of setting requires researchers to exist within a duality of individual versus team-based research. This aspect of nanotechnology is an ideal environment for research training because it provides opportunities to exercise independent research within the framework of a scientific team providing mentorship and support.
Several features of the program were found to work well, including the use of web-conferencing to eliminate geographical barriers, a specific group meeting format to stream-line group reporting time and accountability for research progress, and the development of a strong feedback network to support participant development. In spite of these findings, further improvements can be made. The biggest challenge is related to developing assessment that can provide insight into the progress of individual students.
With personalized assessment, interventions could be tailored that are specific to the needs of a particular student. A variety of different assessment strategies are accepted or emerging for REU program evaluation [ 26 ].
College, Graduate School, and Postdoctoral Opportunities
Although it is widely used, self-assessment presents difficulties when the subject lacks a mature understanding of success or of progress. Strategies used in conjunction with surveys have also been described including conversation [ 39 ] or analyses of writing samples [ 40 ]. Entering researchers may not know how to evaluate themselves simply because they are too inexperienced to be aware of their shortcomings [ 41 ].
They also may possess different biases that influence the accuracy and objectivity of the results [ 42 ]. Alternative strategies, such as asking experienced researchers to evaluate entering researchers, pose other problems.
Northwestern University Nanotechnology REU
Established researchers develop different disciplinary standards, observe different cultural practices, and possess unique biases as a result of personal experiences which collectively create a range of evaluation results. These issues may be alleviated, but not eliminated, for many forms of evaluation if an effective rubric is provided to assist in assessment. The process of becoming proficient in research is complex and advancement in a specific area may be predicated on developing a set of pre-requisite skills [ 44 ].
Even more daunting, if a combination of gains with a wide dynamic range is needed and some elements require only incremental improvements, this makes obtaining evidence of skills that lead to success more elusive. A continuum of evaluation methods is required to address the diversity of approaches to deliver high-quality research experiences that are uniquely developed to meet specific needs for undergraduate training in the STEM community.
Combining qualitative assessment with quantitative surveys will shed light on the unique path of growth in individual researchers.
Future studies also include less structured means of assessment such as journaling and including more opportunities for personal reflection. The WVU NanoSAFE REU program is based on diverse nanotechnology research that is aligned with the same goal to advance society through a new class of advanced performance materials that are safe and sustainable. The program leverages strong intellectual and instrumental resources across the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, the Benjamin M.
Several strategies including surveys, qualitative assessment, and tracking of research metrics publications, presentations, awards have provided formative assessment of this program to address the current needs of students. Continued observation of narrated presentations captured throughout the program offers a means to review metrics of progression e. Quantitative surveys should expand the current understanding of how different skill sets contribute to progression e.
The perspective presented in this paper outlines one example of educational practices to attract individuals to the field of nanotechnology and advance their professional trajectory. This program is specifically designed for students familiar with predominantly undergraduate institutions in Appalachia. In addition to serving as a bridge for students to transition from training programs at small schools in Appalachia, an advantageous feature of nanotechnology training at WVU is that training in a single institutional setting still enables undergraduate researchers to participate in projects that span academic departments in engineering, health sciences, and basic sciences, as well as government laboratories.
New paradigms in educational training programs are also necessary to realize the benefits of an inclusive training environment and the need to adapt and potentially revise educational strategies in order to foster greater achievements by individuals with different cultural experiences and expectations. While nanotechnology is changing, the complex and dynamic experiences of people entering workforce training in nanotechnology requires continual assessment of the effectiveness of training strategies.
Nanotechnology Undergraduate Education (NUE) in Engineering (nsf)
Approaches to educational assessment continue to evolve as researchers uncover the processes associated with attaining skills and knowledge. This in turn will increase and enhance the collective research proficiency in fields such as nanotechnology that advance and innovate society through better products, improved manufacturing, and enabling tools for society.
Cassandra L. Crihfield is acknowledged for her invaluable assistance editing this report. She received her B. She received her Ph. She enjoys teaching instrumental analysis to undergraduate and graduate students and mentoring the many outstanding researchers who have engaged in science at WVU.
Why study nanotechnology?
He attended Illinois State University to study chemistry. His research interests focus on the improvement of teaching and learning in the STEM disciplines at all levels p , particularly in ways that help students connect science to daily living.
Current projects include integration of technology into science classrooms using three-dimensional art design and simple robotic components, a Nanotechnology research program for teachers, a Solar Panel installation and study at a local high school, and looking for novel ways to improve large lecture chemistry and physics courses. She earned her B. Her academic interests include the design and application of microfluidic devices for medical diagnostics, drug discovery, and the development of nanomaterials for biological detection.
Working in the Physics Education Research Lab PERL at MSU, her research focus is on developing formal structures to support transformed physics laboratories while developing assessment tools and practices for understanding student learning in these laboratory courses. Most of her service to the forum has been dedicated to publishing newsletter articles highlighting outreach experiences from the perspective of graduate students and other early career individuals. She continued her education at West Virginia University at which she received her M.
Quedado has diverse experience in higher education as both an assistant professor teaching chemistry and biochemistry related courses and as a manager of graduate and undergraduate traineeship programs. Informed consent was obtained as outlined in the approved protocol. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry. Anal Bioanal Chem.
Published online Aug Lisa A. Holland , 1 Jeffrey S. Carver , 2 Lindsay M.
Veltri , 1 Rachel J. Henderson , 3 and Kimberly D. Quedado 4. Holland 1 C. Jeffrey S. Lindsay M. Veltri 1 C. Rachel J. Kimberly D. Kroto, Nobel Prize Laureate. Rapid advances in nanoscience and nanotechnology research indicate a need for corresponding science, engineering and medical education efforts. Issues relating to K scientific and technological literacy become even more pressing concerns, given the extent to which advances in nanoscience and nanotechnology are expected to impact all aspects of human experience, e. This book contains 36 state-of-the-art chapters and addresses the following topics: i current efforts in the field of nanoscale science and engineering education; ii noteworthy examples showing the integration of nanotechnology in undergraduate education chemistry, physics, biological sciences, engineering, environmental science, technology, etc.
The book is written by leading experts who are interested and experienced in nanoscience and nanotechnology education. Cabrera Puerto Rico and Donald A. Porter, Jr. Larsen, Norbert J. Pienta, Sarah C. Winkelmann, J. Brenner, J. Abramson, David A. Burtch, K. Brown, N.
Walters Jr. Fonash, Douglas E.