EXP: Agile Research Studios: Scaling Cognitive Apprenticeship to Advance Undergraduate and Graduate Research Training in STEM

Project: Research project

Project Details


Undergraduate research experiences promise numerous intellectual, personal, and professional benefits. Educational research highlights the quality of mentoring, doing authentic scientific work, and having sufficient training and practice over time as core factors contributing to students’ intellectual growth and interest in science and research careers [17,19]. Authentic practice [23] is often lacking in the classroom yet is crucial for preparing students to design and implement innovative solutions to social and technical problems upon graduation [16]; project-based learning through research can help students achieve higher learning outcomes, build innovation self-efficacy [15], and promote interest in STEM careers through gaining a deeper appreciation for the discipline under investigation. Tap the nation's diverse student talent pool and broaden participation in science and engineering, bring this form of quality education to more students. NSF is particularly interested in increasing the numbers of women, underrepresented minorities, and persons with disabilities in research. The integration of research and education can attract a diverse pool of talented students into careers in science and engineering, including teaching and education research related to science and engineering, and to help ensure that these students receive the best education possible.attracting students into science and engineering who might not otherwise consider those majors and careers, projects are also encouraged to involve students at earlier stages in their college experience. Core NSF values state, and educational research has demonstrated, the effectiveness of active learning, undergraduate research experiences, communication with faculty, involvement in the culture of research and connections to real world problems in increasing student performance and retention in STEM, especially among women and underrepresented minority students [19, 20, 21, 22]. Providing effective mentoring and training for becoming good researchers is challenging and multifaceted. It requires helping students adapt from quarter- and semester- long instruction to working on longer term projects that are more open ended and may involve more ambiguity. Learning to conduct independent research requires not only knowledge in the discipline but also learning the processes, cultures, and mindset for being a researcher. Problems may be inherently messy; the best known hypothesis or solution may not work, so learners need to develop grit and perseverance and to iterate. They also need to learn to learn, so that new skills and processes can be developed over time as needs and interests arise over the course of a project. Students thus require to learn effective approaches and to get support in many ways (technical, methodological, mindset and strategies, and emotional, attitude, dispositional) . This kind of training is conducted through cognitive apprenticeship (Collins), which is effective but requires significant time and dedication from both students and mentors, that is a scarce resource with many things competing for their attention. Practical implementation and orchestration challenges can thus significant limit the scale and effectiveness of training we provide. Faculty members must balance the effort required for training students with the research group’s need for productivity [22]. As a research group grows, faculty members are challenged by the sheer number of meetings, days shaped more by scheduling constraints than research importance, and slow reactions to diff
Effective start/end date9/1/168/31/21


  • National Science Foundation (IIS-1623635)


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