162 Long term Impacts of a One-week Professional Development Program for Undergraduate Students

Monday, 11 January 2016
Valerie Sloan, UCAR, Boulder, CO; and R. Haacker and T. Barnes

Handout (526.8 kB)

The Undergraduate Leadership Workshop (ULW) at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) connects twenty undergraduates from around the nation with research scientists, engineers, educators, and leadership at NCAR in Boulder each year. The experience is intended to provide students with exposure to careers in the atmospheric sciences, encourage them to consider opportunities in graduate school and the private sector, and support them in developing a peer network. This program fulfills the recommendation in a 2014 report to the Directorate for Education and Human Resources at the National Science Foundation to provide student opportunities to build knowledge and capacity for workforce development in STEM fields.

A long-term evaluation of the program, now in its 14th year, is yielding insights into the aspects of the program that ULW alumni have found to be most valuable. The evaluation has utilized focus groups, surveys and interviews to assess the impact the program has had, both short term and long term, over the course of the students' educational and professional careers. The main themes that have emerged are career awareness building, cohort building and support, and networking. A growing interest in one-on-one career mentoring and professional development in a 2014 formative evaluation led to relevant programmatic changes for the 2015 summer program. Results suggest that the overall value of short but intense programs with opportunities for exposure to careers, professional development, mentoring, and peer-relationship-building have a significant positive impact without the effort or cost of a full-fledged internship.

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