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Research Experiences for Students: Interdisciplinary skill development to prepare the future workforce for success

  • Nicole Ferrari (a1) (a2), Carol Jenkins (a1) (a3), Jacquelynn Garofano (a1) (a4), Deborah Day (a1) (a5), Todd Schwendemann (a3) and Christine Broadbridge (a1) (a3)...

Abstract

Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) programs traditionally function as a recruitment vehicle to encourage students to pursue further studies in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and as an opportunity for STEM majors to delve deeper into their chosen fields of study. Based on a critical examination of REU student feedback, evaluators at CRISP (Center for Research on Interface Structures and Phenomena) have found that in addition to these conventional benefits of research-based experiences, the value of interdisciplinary skill development is integral to the REU experience and these contributions may warrant a more formal evaluative definition. Using the emerging 21st Century Skills Framework, CRISP has begun conducting a series of small-scale studies in an effort to define the contribution of student research experiences in cross-disciplinary skill development and the positive effects that exposure to real-world science practices have on refinement of career decisions and vocational success. Using Likert-type survey methods, this study directly examines current and former REU students’ perceptions of the importance of interdisciplinary 21st century skills such as creativity, collaboration, communication, information literacy, and problem-solving in their REU experience and their perceived value of these skills in their future and/or current careers. Through better understanding the role these “soft skills” play in student research experiences, CRISP hopes to maximize these interdisciplinary benefits within its REU program to best prepare students for the complex demands of the 21st century workplace.

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1. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills: Framework for 21st Century Learning, http://www.p21.org/about-us/p21-framework
2. Trilling, B. and Fadel, C., 21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in Our Times (Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, 2009).
3. Next Generation Science Standards, www.criticalthinking.org
4. Executive Summary of College Learning for the New Global Century (2008), https://www.aacu.org
5. Common Core State Standards Initiative: Mission Statement, http://www.corestandards.org
6. United States Department of Labor: Soft Skills to Pay the Bills – Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success, http://www.dol.gov/odep/topics/youth/softskills/
7. Robles, M.M., Business Communication Quarterly 75 4 (2012).
8. Day, D. A., Ferrari, N. and Broadbridge, C.. “The Role of Collaborative Student Research on the Development of 21st Century Skills”, 2014 MRS Proceedings, 1657, mrsf13-1657-qq02-05 doi:10.1557/opl.2014.400.
9. Garofano, J., Sadowski, T., Daponte, J., Broadbridge, C., “Team Based Interdisciplinary Research Using Electron Microscopy”, 2011 MRS Proceedings, volume 1320, doi.org/10.1557/opl.2011.578
10. Trosset, C., Lopatto, D. and Elgin, S., Implementation and Assessment of Course-Embedded Undergraduate Research Experiences: Some Explorations in Creating Effective Undergraduate Programs in Science (Teachers College Press, New York, 2008) p. 3352.
11. Foroohar, R., The School That Will Get You a Job, Time Magazine (2014).
12. Lopatto, D., Exploring the Benefits of Undergraduate Research Experiences: The SURE Survey in Creating Effective Undergraduate Programs in Science (Teachers College Press, New York, 2008).
13. Taraban, R., Prensky, E. and Bowen, C.W., Critical Factors in the Undergraduate Research Experience in Creating Effective Undergraduate Programs in Science (Teachers College Press, New York, 2008).

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Research Experiences for Students: Interdisciplinary skill development to prepare the future workforce for success

  • Nicole Ferrari (a1) (a2), Carol Jenkins (a1) (a3), Jacquelynn Garofano (a1) (a4), Deborah Day (a1) (a5), Todd Schwendemann (a3) and Christine Broadbridge (a1) (a3)...

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