Table of contents(21 chapters)
Part I: Undergraduate Research Program Models
Evolution and Impact of Interdisciplinary STEM Undergraduate Research Programs at North Carolina A&T State University
In this chapter, we present our ongoing efforts in developing and sustaining interdisciplinary STEM undergraduate programs at North Carolina A&T State University (NCA&T) – a state-supported HBCU and National Science Foundation (NSF) Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP) Institutional Implementation Project grantee. Through three rounds of NSF HBCU-UP implementation grants, a concerted effort has been made in developing interdisciplinary STEM undergraduate research programs in geophysical and environmental science (in round 1), geospatial, computational, and information science (in round 2), and mathematical and computational biology (in round 3) on NCA&T campus. We first present a brief history and background information about the interdisciplinary STEM undergraduate research programs developed and sustained at NCA&T, giving rationales on how these programs had been conceived, and summarizing what have been achieved. Next we give a detailed description on the development of undergraduate research infrastructure including building research facilities through multiple and leveraged funding sources, and engaging a core of committed faculty mentors and research collaborators. We then present, as case studies, some sample interdisciplinary research projects in which STEM undergraduate students were engaged and project outcomes. Successes associated to our endeavor in developing undergraduate research programs as well as challenges and opportunities on implementing and sustaining these efforts are discussed. Finally, we discuss the impact of well-structured undergraduate research training on student success in terms of academic performance, graduation rate and continuing graduate study, and summarize many of the learnings we have gained from implementation and delivery of undergraduate research experiences at HBCUs.
Claflin University is leading the way in graduating underrepresented minorities at the bachelor’s level and preparing them for graduate school in STEM. Claflin University is a small liberal arts institution with the primary focus on teaching. However, because of the national demand for STEM professions, and the gap between the supply and demand, Claflin administrators were astute enough (14 years ago) to realize that in order to be effective as a teaching institution, there must be a delicate balance between teaching and research. For the state of South Carolina which has the third largest percent population of African Americans (31%) in the country, educated and trained minorities in the STEM fields are in even higher need as they can serve as role models and help build up a minority higher education pipeline within their home towns. HBCUs are central to this mission of increasing minority participation in STEM and have been playing a vital role in educating underrepresented groups. Therefore, Claflin University made a courageous decision (14 years ago) to enhance the role of research-based teaching, specifically in STEM. This synergistic move would bolster Claflin’s competitiveness as a teaching institution with a strong and sustainable research core.
Since joining Bennett College in 2008, Dr. Oh has directed 17 undergraduate students’ research projects in applied mathematics. The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded Dr. Oh grants from the Historically Black Colleges and Universities – Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP). The grants allowed her to mentor eight mathematics majors/minors in summer research for four years (2009–2012). Based on the four years of successful undergraduate research (UGR) experiences, she, together with Dr. Jan Rychtar from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG), received funding for two summers National Research Experience for Undergraduates (NREUP), an activity of Mathematical Association of America (MAA), funded by the NSF in 2013 and 2014. During the six years of funded UGR, Bennett students made 33 presentations at regional, state, and national conferences; two teams won the outstanding student presentation award and first place for presentation. Three papers were published; two of them by Dr. Oh and one of them with a UGR coauthor. Three projects resulted in manuscripts. As a result of the UGR experiences in 2015, Dr. Oh received three more grants: the MAA NREUP, the NSF’s Center for Undergraduate Research in Mathematics (CURM), and the NSF’s Preparation for Industrial Careers in Mathematical Sciences (PIC Math) program awarded grants. A grant was also submitted to HBC-UP-Targeted Infusion Projects: Computational Mathematics at Bennett College.
Overall, the six years of UGR at Bennett College attained the three goals of: (1) enhancing the quality of undergraduate STEM education and research for a deeper appreciation in those disciplines; (2) supporting increased graduation rates in STEM undergraduate education of females; and (3) broadening participation in the nation’s STEM workforce as well as enrollments in graduate schools.
Undergraduate Research at the Timbuktu Academy and LS-LAMP at Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge (SUBR)
The purpose of this chapter is to describe the climate and practice of undergraduate research in selected Science and Engineering departments at Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge (SUBR), Louisiana, from 1994 to 2014. We briefly recall the long tradition of undergraduate research participation and the accompanying mentoring at SUBR. The establishment of the Timbuktu Academy in 1990–1991, with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), followed two years of review of the literature in teaching, mentoring, and learning. The paradigm and Ten Strand Systemic Mentoring model of the Academy, with a major funding by the Department of the Navy, Office of Naval Research (ONR), have sustained a research-based and practice-verified creation of a highly supportive and challenging research eco-system for selected science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) undergraduate scholars, one that integrates seamlessly education and research.
Typical undergraduate research programs involving HBCU students have several weaknesses including the short time of the students’ involvement in the research and the variable level of commitment of faculty mentors. Another issue at HBCUs is the lack of both start-up support for new faculty and external research support, which limits the quality of research projects and the pool of faculty mentors. We designed our NSF-funded undergraduate research program to be a professional development program to help faculty expand their research program and improve their mentoring skills, while at the same time involving undergraduates in research.
Faculty in STEM departments competed for Student Support Grants that provided support for research-related equipment, supplies, travel, and up to two students for one year. Faculty submitted proposals describing their research project, the role of students in the project, and their student mentoring plan. Faculty mentors could recruit their own students for the project, and both faculty mentors and students were required to commit to the research project for one year.
Outcomes of the program were very positive for both the faculty and the students. All of the involved students presented their research at conferences and several were co-authors on research publications. All but a few of the students continued working in research even after their time in the program was over. In addition, many of the supported faculty members were able to use the financial support as a springboard for successful applications for other grant programs.
The BRITE program at North Carolina Central University fosters the intellectual development of students and provides them with exposure to extensive undergraduate research experiences. This hands-on training along with a rigorous academic program, advising, faculty mentoring, and career counseling adequately prepare students for careers in biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, or pharmaceutical industries and/or advanced degree programs. As a result, students are thoroughly prepared for scientific careers and to contribute to society as productive scientists. To date, there has been a high placement rate for graduates from the BRITE program. Similarly, we have also observed increasing rates of enrollment, retention, and graduation. The BRITE program is a model of success for educating future generations of scientists by infusing undergraduate research into HBCU curricula and clearly demonstrates the significance undergraduate research plays in preparing students for their professional careers.
The Impact of Undergraduate Research in STEM at Morgan State University on the Production of Doctoral Degrees in Engineering and the Sciences
Morgan State University (Morgan) is a leading undergraduate institution for black science and engineering doctoral degree recipients. Morgan also is a leader in the production of black engineering degree recipients in the United States. This chapter provides a historic overview of the major programs with a tie to the impact on the institutional metrics, a discussion of the process for developing researchers in science and engineering, and alumni perspectives. The undergraduate research development models used in engineering at Morgan are compared and contrasted with the life sciences and physical sciences. The programs focus on developing communities of engineering practice and communities of science, thereby enhancing students’ self-efficacy and resilience, shaping disciplinary identity, and creating learning communities. These approaches are critical for the success of minority students and are supported by the social science literature. Best practices have been adopted at varying levels by the School of Engineering, the School of Computer Mathematics and Natural Science and the Behavioral Science departments that have netted these Ph.D. outcomes including multiyear mentored research, research training courses, and participation in professional meetings. Multiple approaches to student development, when matched with the disciplinary culture, are shown to result in national impact.
Part II: Curriculum Impact
This chapter examines the design and impact on student learning in two STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) capstone undergraduate research courses at Saint Augustine’s University. It discusses how these courses help student metacognitive capabilities as they synthesize their learning across the program, demonstrate holistic development, and successfully negotiate the transition to their next academic and career pathway. It couples data from these capstone research courses with a review of the literature to elucidate the conditions and impact that undergraduate research STEM capstone courses have benefited students, faculty and the University. These best practices for the capstone courses may be used as a model for other HBCUs capstone courses or undergraduate research experiences. Throughout this chapter, the following questions are addressed: How do the capstone courses prepare students for graduate school and/or the STEM workforce? How are the capstone courses enhancing student undergraduate experiences? How do the capstone courses offer authentic research experiences for each student in spite of limited resources and faculty? How do students and faculty feel they have benefited from the capstone course experience? How have students overall learning been enhanced because of the capstone courses?
Building a Cohesive Curriculum to Promote Psychology Majors’ Success in Research Methods and Statistics Courses
This chapter presents a case study of challenges to psychology majors’ success in research methods and statistics courses at Bennett College, and a description and evaluation of measures taken to address these issues. In addition to changes to individual courses and the curriculum pattern, these measures include forming explicit linkages between courses and with relevant co-curricular activities to emphasize the centrality of research and quantitative skills to the psychology major. Particular emphasis is placed on infusing these changes into first-year psychology majors’ experiences and coursework, in order to prepare and motivate students prior to their entry into a significantly revised and expanded sequence of corequisite research methods/statistics courses. These changes are discussed with regard to impact on student achievement in statistics and research methods courses, timely progress toward degree completion, and acceptance into graduate and professional programs. Current challenges, ongoing efforts, and plans for further improvement are also discussed.
Part III: Undergraduate Mentors/Mentees
For undergraduate students completing their senior seminar research, there is value in conceiving their study as a project. Research that is project-driven allows students to design the depth of their study with the target goal of degree completion and graduation. Fittingly, this chapter provides students with an applicable project performance strategy that works across academic disciplines and in tandem with the scientific research methodology. Along these lines, this work “connects the dots” between project performance and the student researcher’s capacity for investigative achievement. This notion of performance achievement capacity is referred to as research project performativity.
Accordingly, a blueprint for research project performativity is presented to show students a path to senior seminar success. To conclude, this chapter provides 10 useful tips to boost undergraduate student’s chances for surviving the experience of a senior seminar research.
There is a paucity of STEM professionals in the United States and an enduring disparity between the number of underrepresented minorities (URMs) and Caucasians entering and persisting in STEM. Many of the national initiatives to address the lack of STEM professionals in the United States are focused on increasing diversity among students in higher education. Although the number of URMs entering STEM degrees is increasing, those entering STEM professions remains low. Successful mentorships can encourage both study and persistence in STEM. The current chapter describes some of the theoretical underpinnings, based on the science of Psychology, which undergird successful mentoring models, and includes a discussion of mentee benefits and barriers to becoming a mentor as well as factors associated with motivation to mentor. Theories of mentoring are presented as context for the latter half of the chapter. A guide is outlined for a successful mentoring model students at HBCUs to persist in STEM. Components of the model that are detailed include essential goals, process elements, and content elements. Current literature addresses mentoring URM students in STEM, but does not specifically address working with STEM students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. This chapter provides a theory-based model for mentoring STEM students in the unique environment of HBCUs. This chapter also highlights Psychology, an oft-overlooked STEM discipline, which has a substantial role to play in framing successful mentoring programs through its evidence-based science and theory.