Enhancing core competency learning in an integrated summer Research Experience for Bioengineers

Penny L. Hirsch*, Joan A W Linsenmeier, H. David Smith, Joan M T Walker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


In the summer Research Experience for Undergraduates offered by the NSF-sponsored VaNTH Engineering Research Center in Bioengineering, core competency instruction in ethics and communication was integrated into students' research experiences outside of formal courses. This paper describes our instructional approach and presents an initial evaluation of its effectiveness. A simple concept mapping assessment used at the beginning and end of the summer suggests that students made gains in both areas. In ethics, students developed greater awareness of key concepts, such as respect for persons (informed consent), beneficence, justice, and integrity. Gains in communication were more modest, but the maps revealed growth in understanding the importance of audience and the multifaceted nature of technical communication. Overall, the study suggests that students can make measurable strides in core competencies without taking formal courses. Future research should consider integrating components of our intervention into other non-credit experiences for engineering undergraduates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)391-401
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Engineering Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2005


  • Communication
  • Concept mapping
  • Ethics
  • REU

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Engineering


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