Modifying an Existing Undergraduate Research Experience to Include and Support Students in Two-Year Programs

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Monday, 5 January 2015
Dr Reginald Blake, New York City College of Technology, Brooklyn, NY; and J. Liou-Mark

Promoting undergraduate research experiences at two-year colleges has recently garnered interest at the national level. Undergraduate research experiences have been instrumental in retaining students in the STEM disciplines because of strong mentoring and support structures. New York City College of Technology (City Tech) was recently awarded a National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) supplement grant to include a community college component into its existing REU program. REU Scholars are given an opportunity to conduct intensive satellite and ground-based remote sensing research at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Cooperative Remote Sensing Science and Technology Center (NOAA-CREST) at City College and its CREST Institute Center for Remote Sensing and Earth System Science (ReSESS) at City Tech.

This presentation highlights the additional academic structures that are critical to the success of community college students, especially those who are underrepresented in STEM, and it describes how the original REU program's three main components were modified to support this new community college cohort. The first component, Structured Learning Environments: Preparation and Mentorship, standardizes two distinct mentoring paradigms. The second component, Student Support and Safety Nets, promotes an educational setting where two- and four-year students are involved in a community of practice. The last component, Vision and Impetus for Advancement, creates prospects for community college students to continue their STEM education at four-year institutions and to see themselves as future STEM professionals and scientists. This piloted two-tiered research mentoring track has produced an intellectually stimulating climate in which both two- and four-year students flourished in their research endeavors. (This program is supported by NSF REU grant #1062934.)