Measuring the impact of undergraduate research programs on engineering students' attitudes toward graduate studies

Linda Hirsch, John Carpinelli, Howard Kimmel, Angelo Perna, Kwabena Narh

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Attitudes toward graduate studies are an often overlooked, but potentially important factor in undergraduate engineering students' decisions of whether or not to pursue graduate studies in engineering. Graduate work, especially the Ph.D., requires extensive research, a skill not often emphasized in undergraduate engineering programs. A survey was developed to measure engineering students' attitudes toward graduate studies and examine the reasons students choose to not attend graduate school. The psychometric properties of the survey have been examined and are published elsewhere. The survey has been used to measure the effect(s) undergraduate research programs have on engineering students' attitudes toward graduate studies. Students who participated in the research programs showed increased attitudes from the beginning to the end of their programs and had significantly higher attitudes toward graduate studies than a group of students who did not participate in the programs. Research opportunities for undergraduates have expanded over the past several years with the initiation of federally funded programs such as Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) and the Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program. During each of the last three years, New Jersey Institute of Technology has hosted two separate REUs as well as a McNair Program. Data across all three years have been combined to further examine changes in students' attitudes toward graduate studies after participating in one of the programs and to begin investigating possible differences between the students who attended the REU programs and the students who attended the McNair program. Students in the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program showed significantly higher attitudes toward graduate studies, were more positive about research and appeared more likely to pursue careers in academia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009
Event2009 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Austin, TX, United States
Duration: Jun 14 2009Jun 17 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Measuring the impact of undergraduate research programs on engineering students' attitudes toward graduate studies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this