DEVELOPING INCLUSIVE LAB CLIMATES FOR UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH PROGRAMS: A NATIONAL STUDY OF COMPUTING FACULTY
, B. Swan2
1UNC Charlotte (UNITED STATES)
2University of Central Florida (UNITED STATES)
The National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsors approximately 700 programs for undergraduate research project sites with 7,000 college student participants, commonly referred to as Research Experiences for Undergraduates, or REUs, in scientific disciplines at US universities each summer. Many of these programs seek to increase student retention, to encourage students to pursue graduate education, and to diversify participation in the sciences, technology, engineering, and math fields. While REU sites share common goals, each site has unique research project objectives, and project sites are funded in three year intervals, leaving faculty with little time to develop effective and informed practices within their project. While much literature has addressed the outcomes for students who participate in these programs, there has been little systematic study of the faculty experience. Even less research addresses how to design undergraduate research programs that are inclusive of diversity.
This study describes findings from a large-scale program evaluation of a National Science Foundation undergraduate research program, the Computer and Information Sciences and Engineering (CISE) Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. A study of faculty principal investigators from CISE REU sites was conducted to investigate faculty motivation and perceived impact from their participation in managing undergraduate research experiences, and to identify successful practices for creating intentionally inclusive research cultures among their labs. A mixed-methods approach was implemented to gauge faculty administration of research programs, including how the lab culture was established, what they identified as effective mentoring structure and practices. Additionally, their perceptions and perceived career impact from leading summer research programs was explored. Thirty CISE REU faculty participated in a survey, and 19 participated in a semi-structured phone interview, well over half of the total sample within the NSF CISE community. This study presents findings that inform undergraduate research engagement from experienced faculty who lead summer programs. Findings provide research based evidence informing those who design and lead undergraduate research programs. Implications for diversity inclusion within lab climates are presented and discussed.