(76f) The Effect of Undergraduate Research On Student Performance | AIChE

(76f) The Effect of Undergraduate Research On Student Performance


Undergraduate research, in some form, is present in every chemical engineering department; however, its extent varies greatly.  In most research university chemical engineering departments undergraduate research plays a critical role but often difficult to characterize role.  Coinciding with an initiative from the author’s department to increase availability of undergraduate research, the net benefit of undergraduate research was sought.  Does the time and effort put into training undergraduate researchers benefit the research project, the student, or the PI?

The effect of undergraduate research on engineering skills, student confidence, and performance in coursework were evaluated over multiple semesters using a self-efficacy questionnaire.  Engineering skills and student confidence improved rapidly after starting undergraduate research.  There was no distinct correlation between participation in research and coursework performance.  Additionally, performance increases seemed to plateau after rapidly increasing over the first two semesters of participation in research.  Results were used to compare chemical engineering students in this department with other engineering students, all undergraduates at the institution, and undergraduates nationwide.