Using Multidisciplinary Research Experiences to Enhance STEM Learning through Undergraduate, Team-Based, Summer Research Projects for At-Risk Students

Jennifer Yantz (Middle Tennessee State University, USA), Brittany D. Smith (Middle Tennessee State University, USA), Ginger Holmes Rowell (Middle Tennessee State University, USA), Thomas Cheatham (Middle Tennessee State University, USA), Donald Nelson (Middle Tennessee State University, USA), D. Christopher Stephens (Middle Tennessee State University, USA) and Elaine Bouldin Tenpenny (Middle Tennessee State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 220
EISBN13: 9781466674448|DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6375-6.ch008
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Undergraduate research can be one of the most important and influential learning experiences during a student's college career (Light, 2001). Significant retention value is achieved both through one-on-one contact with a faculty mentor (Campbell, 1997; Jacobi, 1991) and by interaction with peers in a learning community (Johnson, 2001). Colleges and universities are using undergraduate research experiences to help improve student retention, graduation, and success in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). However, undergraduate research is frequently reserved for the best and brightest students who have achieved junior or senior class status. This case study describes a team-based research experience designed for first-year, at-risk undergraduate students. For this project, the term “at-risk” is defined to be first-time, full-time freshman declared STEM majors with a weak mathematics background as measured by having an ACT-Mathematics sub score of 19 to 23, inclusive. In particular, this case study focuses on the multidisciplinary nature of some of the research projects and the benefits for the students in terms of confidence, depth of learning in STEM, and progress in understanding the scientific process.
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