Paper No. 152-7
Presentation Time: 3:15 PM
RESEARCH EXPERIENCE FOR UNDERGRADUATES: THE PROS AND CONS OF INITIAL PLANNING FOR A REU FOR PRE-SERVICE TEACHERS
The summer of 2013 served as a once in a lifetime learning experience for 10 pre-service science teachers selected from across the country. During the 10 week Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) that took place at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) the selected pre-service teachers worked in pairs to spearhead five unique and separate Geo Environmental investigations. Each pair of pre-service teachers was assigned a faculty member from MTSU to serve as their mentor during the REU. Main themes highlighted in a few investigations included: Storm Water Filtration – Uses of pervious pavement, The Study of Plant Ecology – Soil depth and the richness of plants in cedar glades, and Structural Geology – The Harpeth River fault zone. Upon completion of the program each participant was asked: to comment on the pros and cons of the way/s in which the REU was approached in the first of its three years, to submit suggestions for future improvement, and overall evaluations of the program.
Pros & Cons based on 9 reviews
- Due to the unique nature of this REU participants were able to study and work (mentors providing) at their own pace. This allowed for participants to learn more about their investigation and research previously conducted.
- The groups spent a day with fellow researchers and participated in their investigation. By working with one another on each group’s investigation this allowed for a more unified experience to be shared by the 10 pre-service teachers.
- A weeklong trip was taken at the beginning of the REU. This trip allowed for the pre-service teachers to become more comfortable working with one another.
- 6 out of 8 participants agree that by being the first year of this REU, and the first of its kind, an overall structure seemed to be lacking. As the summer went on the structure improved tremendously, but it was evident that some things had been overlooked in the initial proposal.
- MTSU is located in a decent sized city, but without having a personal vehicle present transportation was more limited than had been led to believe.
- One objective for the summer was to create a curriculum for a middle school science class – this was completed by the mentors and not the pre-service teachers.
The REU concluded with a meeting where all the pros & cons were addressed in person which effectively helped plan for the future participants.