Critical features and value in assessing a research experience for undergraduates: The case of engineering cities

  • David Urias
  • Joseph Wartman
  • Patricia Gallagher
Keywords: assessment, research experince for undergraduates


Undergraduate research experiences can be highly effective in motivating students to pursue advanced degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). An important task for those who oversee undergraduate research programs is to determine if, in addition to producing quality research, the program is achieving its pre-defined goals. Formal program assessment is an ideal means for determining whether an initiative is meeting its objectives and additionally, for generating data needed to modify and improve the program. Program assessment involves several steps: (i) clear articulation of desired results, (ii) identification of metrics of success, and (iii) formulation of an assessment response plan. A case study of the program assessment of the National Science Foundation-sponsored Research Experience For Undergraduates Site: Engineering Cites was conduced using entrance and exit surveys of students, along with exit surveys of faculty. Overall, it was determined that the program is largely meeting its goals; however, several areas requiring improvement were identified. Assessment will continue to be used to document the impact of the modifications on the program outcomes.