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Washington &Jefferson College On-campus Summer Student Research--LEM






(Short Term-Learning)

(Medium Term-Action)

(Long Term-Conditions)

HHMI funding for on-campus student research


Undergraduate Students


Research Mentors – undergraduate peers, postdocs, and faculty


On-campus Summer Research Projects


Research Supplies


Research Infrastructure—laboratories, classrooms, and housing for summer interns


Collaborating Institutions—4 th year for LEM


Supportive Research Environment


On-campus Research Directors


Short-term Mentors and Mentorship


Long-term Mentors and Mentorship


Follow-up:  Short-term—student progress at W&J; Long-term—1-5 years post graduation


Leadership: Internal and external advisory boards for HHMI, President and Academic Affairs at W&J



Provide various opportunities for a wide variety of students to engage in significant mentored and interdisciplinary summer research experience in ecology at Washington & Jefferson College (current depts involved: BIO, EVS, ITL, & MTH)


Summer on-campus research by undergraduate interns will reach more undergraduates through the contribution of information (and the development of research protocols/experiences) to existing Biology courses, MTH courses, CHM courses, EVS courses, and other courses in the W&J curriculum (through the use of a dedicated server and website)


Offer administrative, academic, financial, and general program support for students (and in some cases the mentors) to fully maximize their research experiences


Efforts will be made to recruit students for internships 1) from different classes (Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors), 2) from a variety of academic departments, 3) with different levels of research experience, and 4) from underrepresented minority groups


Recruit and match students with appropriate faculty/postdoc mentor (ITL, EVS, and BIO) and train potential student mentors and faculty (especially important for ITL—maintenance of server and LEM database; primary mentor for server maintenance during year 3 is the ITL postdoc)

Number and demographics of all HHMI-supported on-campus summer LEM research students


Number and demographics of HHMI-supported on-campus summer LEM research students graduating in natural sciences and mathematics and ITL


Number and demographics of all HHMI-supported on-campus summer LEM research students continuing to engage in science, mathematics, and ITL


Number and demographics of non-HHMI supported on-campus summer LEM research students who were affected by HHMI research support (e.g., attended science seminars, or decided to engage in research without HHMI support)


Number and demographics of mentors (undergraduate peers and postdoc)


Number and characteristics of faculty who take undergraduate on-campus summer research students


Research projects information: Name of project, department(s), and mentor name


Student success in research projects: publications, awards, and poster/presentations at meetings (on- and off-campus)


General objectives for student interns and faculty mentors associated with the LEM project (Summer 2010):


1. Use new server for managing and archiving collected data and begin use of ruggedized handheld  computers for data collection in the field.


2. Continue collecting long-term data on plant/animal populations and ecological processes.


3. Assess current monitoring protocols implemented in year 1 and adjust if needed or add additional monitoring projects.


4. Construct additional drift fence sampling arrays.



Students value their summer experience (primarily through student, peer, and  mentor perceptions and attitudes)—SURE survey


Students are more interested in and value research in science/mathematics or other related disciplines


Students have increased content knowledge and test scores in science and related disciplines


Students have enhanced knowledge regarding graduate and professional school in the sciences and related disciplines


Students can communicate science effectively


Students’ career expectations relative to science careers post-baccalaureate degree are more realistic/informed/ enhanced


Students continue in science through various post-baccalaureate degree programs (M.S., Ph.D., M.D.-Ph.D., M.D, etc.)


Students continuing in science through other avenues (postbacc programs, research lab techs, etc.)


Mentors have enhanced mentoring skills


An increasing number of faculty continue their involvement in providing research experiences to undergraduates


New institutional or other sources of support  for undergraduate research experiences are created or found


Learning outcomes for interns associated with LEM:

1. Understand and apply the common methodologies in ecology and field biology for assessing plant/animal populations and diversity, water quality, and spatial characteristics of landscapes and ecosystems using GPS and GIS.


2. Accurately collect data in the field and manage that data using ‘current’ computer software and hardware.


3. Identify the common plants and animals of SW PA and give the appropriate scientific nomenclature for those species.


4. Construct a relevant hypothesis based on background information on a specific question and develop one or more testable predictions for that hypothesis; and design and implement a ‘field’ research study that will test predictions based on a specific hypothesis and relevant background information.


5. Effectively communicate the results and conclusions of their research through the use of written reports and poster presentations.



Students earn science graduate degrees (M.S., Ph.D., M.D.-Ph.D., M.D, etc.) and are practicing in science and/or research


Students are in fellowships (postdoc and medical) positions and plan to continue in science or academia


Peer and postgraduate mentors are rewarded for their mentoring activities (good grad school acceptances, postdoc positions, faculty appointments)


Faculty continue to be involved in providing research experiences to undergraduates with less or no HHMI support


Institutional or other sources of support expand for undergraduate research experiences

Students who value scientific research and understand how science and the research enterprise works


Graduates who are engaged in science-related professions


Increasing the number of faculty who mentor undergraduate students who contribute to the research enterprise


Institutions place a high value on providing significant undergraduate research as part of the institution’s culture


Washington &Jefferson College On-campus Summer Student Research

Evaluation Questions for OUTCOMES

Possible Indicators/Measures

Possible Data Collection Methods and Information Sources

Rank/Priority (include brief rationale)

  1. Was the research experience valuable or not valuable for the students both short term and long term? What are the perspectives of the students, mentors, and supervisors on the students’ experiences?


  1. What do students do after they graduate from their colleges/universities? How do students continue to be involved in science after they graduate from their colleges/universities?


  1. How are students contributing to science and/or research after the experience?


  1. How are mentors (at all levels) affected by their mentorship experiences?


  1. How are the faculty and the grantee institution affected by HHMI support for student research?
  1. a) Continue to major in science

b) Graduate with science degree

             c) Pursue additional research experiences before    


             d) Expect to continue in research post-research


             e) Value summer research experience—satisfaction

             surveys (SURE)

             f) Express student-specified gains


  1. a) Pursue science and research-related activities after graduation, particularly through their job/education (post-graduation surveys—1, 5, and 10 years)

b) Pursue science and research-related activities five years after graduation, particularly through their job/education (post-graduation surveys—5 years)

c) Pursue science and research-related activities ten years after graduation, particularly through their job/education (post-graduation survey—10 years)


  1. a) Applied, received, and accepted academic faculty positions, including type of faculty positions (e.g. tenure-track)

       b) Employed in research or science jobs (e.g. academic

       research, industry, government, NGO’s, associations,

         and societies)

       d) Mentoring undergraduate students

       e) Earned honors and awards in research and



  1. a) Success in desired career track

b) Better mentoring provided to other mentees


  1. a) Students and faculty who are engaged in research without HHMI support

b) Institutional changes as a result of HHMI support for undergraduate student research




  1. a) Student Exit Questionnaire

b) Interview

c) Supervisor, Mentor , Summer Program Director, and Selector Feedback

e) Focus Group



  1. a) Tracking Questionnaire

b) Contacting Undergraduate Institution and Selector

c) Alumni search

d) National Surveys (NSF, AAMC, etc.)

e) Grants, honors, and awards

e) Publication searches

f) Citation Impact


  1. a) Tracking Questionnaire

b) Alumni search

c) Interview

d) Focus Group

e) Peer review through panels, awards, etc. gauging research and mentoring contributions


  1. a) Student, faculty, and administration surveys and


       b) Increase in support for undergraduate student

       research activities


  1. a) Tracking of number and quality of undergraduate student research  experiences at a given institution

       b) External awards/funding for undergraduate student

       c) Institutional funding for undergraduate research

       d) Faculty research grants


The first question is the most pressing, not only because we can get the answer sooner, but also because the response to the question can inform us how to improve the overall program and possibly help us take action to impact the students and programs quickly (formative assessment). The second question takes time to answer, but the answers are relatively easier to obtain. The third and fourth questions are more difficult to answer given that students, faculty, and the institutional outcomes will need to be obtained in the long-term and the results would likely be more qualitative.