The Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Principal Investigators (PI) Guide: Development of a Best Practices Website
With the help of the National Science Foundation (NSF), many Principal Investigators (PIs) have been able to mentor undergraduates through Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) site awards. These REU sites are critical to the development of future graduate students, but can be challenging to run due to several required skills outside the scope of most faculty members' expertise, e.g., recruiting applicants, navigating the logistics of housing visiting undergraduate students, and tracking student outcomes after their REU experiences.
In recent years, REU PIs in NSF's Computer & Information Science & Engineering (CISE) Directorate have come together through PI meetings to share best practices for running a successful REU site. While PIs inevitably take different approaches to running their sites based on their research projects, there is still a need to provide new PIs with guidance on the different aspects of an REU site such as identifying resources that can assist in recruiting women and underrepresented minority applicants, providing training for graduate students acting as mentors, and strategies for keeping a mentoring connection to undergraduate researchers after they return to their home institutions. Currently, REU site preparation and orientation for new PIs is a face-to-face process that requires careful planning and significant travel costs. The REU PI Guide, a set of web-based resources, was developed to share best practices of experienced PIs and build capacity within the REU PI community in a more scalable and cost-effective way. The REU PI Guide allows PIs to look up advice and guidance when needed and share their own best practices.
This paper describes our approach to designing the REU PI Guide. The Guide is a database of documents, examples, and overviews of the different aspects of running an REU site. The Guide was developed by assessing new PIs' needs at an NSF workshop for new PIs, gathering existing resources from experienced PIs, creating and refining a website, and evaluation with new PIs. The website’s content and design will be refined through on-going feedback from PIs and other REU site stakeholders. This site has the potential broader impact to share best practices with REU PIs outside the CISE directorate and significantly ease the process of engaging future scientists via REU sites.
This proceeding is published as Iglesias Pena, Mariangely, Stephen B. Gilbert, and Jamie Payton. "The Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Principal Investigators (PI) Guide: Development of a best practices website." 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition. Paper no. 22172. DOI: 10.18260/1-2--31121. Posted with permission.