Undergraduate research on self-regulated learning in engineering education
Undergraduate research has been identified as one of the most effective educational practices having a significant and lasting impact on studentsﾒ academic performance, confidence, and career paths. Sponsored by the NSF TUES type 1 program, our project aims to provide undergraduate students with intensive summer research experience in engineering education through a REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) Site program. The vast majority of NSF REU Site programs focus on disciplinary research in the STEM fields. REU Site programs focusing on engineering education research have not been made available until recently. Our project fills in this research gap and provides undergraduate students with intensive experiences in engineering education research.
Our project has two primary goals: 1) expose REU students, especially those who might not otherwise have the opportunity and those from underrepresented groups, to cutting-edge STEM education research, and 2) stimulate REU students to pursue graduate degrees and careers in teaching and STEM education research. The key project activities include: student recruitment, 10-week REU summer research projects, seminars and workshops, a final research symposium, and formative and summative program evaluations.
The theoretical foundation of our project is self-regulated learning (SRL) theory. SRL refers to earnersﾒ ability and skills to understand and control their learning environment. Over a three-year period, 24 REU students (eight per year) from across the nation come to our university campus to actively participate in our 10-week summer REU Site program. Each year, four REU projects are designed. Each project team includes a faculty advisor, a graduate student mentor, and two REU students. These REU research projects share a common intellectual focus on self-regulated learning in engineering education. During the program, our faculty team conducted a series of seminars and workshops, such as self-regulated learning and its role in engineering education, and developing an educational research question. We also organized a formal symposium where all REU students orally presented their research projects and results.
Through their participation in our project, undergraduate students have developed and improved their understanding and skills in engineering education research, particularly on self-regulated learning. Prior to their participation in this project, REU students had no experience in conducting human-related education research. One student commented that �My previous research experience has been in the field of mathematics. I was dealing with formulas, equations, and theorems. This is the first time that I have worked with human subject and qualitative data. I realized how hard it is to work with human subjects.�
The project has generated positive impacts on participating students� career paths and life. For example, one participating student commented that �This project has impacted my life in a variety of positive ways. All of the outcomes from the last ten weeks have reinforced my want to attend graduate school in some type of educational field. Learning so much about SRL has also made me want to incorporate more self-regulating strategies into my own life.� The results of this ongoing project have been disseminated at the 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition.
Fang, N., Lawanto, O., and Becker, K. (2015): A REU-site program for engineering education research on self-regulated learning. Proceedings of the 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, WA, June 14-17, 2015.