Comparing Assistantship vs. Course-Based Undergraduate Research Opportunities

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Potter, Leslie
Popejoy-Sheriff, Devna
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Data from across STEM disciplines and over decades show that undergraduate research experiences are a positive significant factor for students who decide to continue with graduate school. We investigate if the same result holds true specifically for undergraduate industrial engineering students at a large, Midwestern university where recent and rapid increases in enrollment make providing one-on-one mentor relationships between faculty and students more challenging. A departmental Undergraduate Research Assistantship (URA) program was established in 2013. With the program now instilled, an assessment of impact to student perceptions and actual student career decisions (continuation to graduate school or not) is prudent, as resources for future increases in URA activities are considered. Increasing the number of available URA research positions is one option, but is limited by faculty time/availability constraints. A second, higher-capacity option would be to establish a CURE: a course-based undergraduate research experience. This decision requires a cost/benefit analysis – do more industrial engineering students who have undergraduate experiences continue to and succeed in graduate school than those who don’t? We examine the data through the established SURE-III survey, and offer lessons learned and recommendations to industrial engineering departments that are considering establishing a URA program or CURE.


This proceeding is published as Potter, L., and D. Popejoy-Sheriff. "Comparing Assistantship vs. Course-Based Undergraduate Research Opportunities." In Proceedings of the 2017 Industrial and Systems Engineering Conference. May 20-23, 2017. Pittsburgh, PA. Posted with permission.

Undergraduate research assistantship, course-based undergraduate research experience, REU, CURE, cost comparison