STEP Project Reflection

Hello, my name is Carter and for my STEP project, I am doing research for the Department of Engineering Education focusing on how the socioeconomic status of students affects how the perceive their own intelligence.  I apologize for starting this so late, but I decided to wait to post my first response until I had approval from OSU’s IRB to conduct my research.  When I first began my project, I was simply assisting Dr. Emily Dringenberg in her research regarding undergraduate engineering student’s beliefs about intelligence in order to improve how undergraduate engineering courses are taught here at Ohio State.  To begin, I was first required to complete training in order to work with human subjects both directly and indirectly.  This occupied almost the entirety of my first week of work, along with reading how to qualitatively code data.  During my second week, my work on my own pilot study began.  I had read an article in The Atlantic recently called “The Birth of the New American Aristocracy,” which revolves around the topic of income inequality.  After reading, I was inspired to include its topics in my pilot study, resulting in my decision to focus on how socioeconomic status affects students’ beliefs about intelligence.  My pilot is also beneficial to Dr. Dringenberg as it is an expansion of the study she currently has underway, and data I collect from my pilot can and will be used in her ongoing study about engineering students beliefs.

To prepare for my IRB submission, I was required to submit multiple documents concerning the protocols for my study, including protocols for recruitment, interviews, data management, and analysis.  My submission was initially rejected on account of the protocol for incentivizing prospective students (part of the recruitment protocol) which resulted in my project being delayed.  After edits to my protocol and a re-submission of my pilot study proposal, the IRB approved my study and has allowed me to start recruiting participants.  As of now, I have multiple prospective students willing to partake in the experience, and my selection of interview subjects will be finalized by the end of the week.

So far, my experience in engineering education has opened a lot of doors for me.  Since this project allows me to see the entire cycle of the research project – from inception to publication – I have a clear view on whether the general experience of researching is a path I want to go down.  So far, my answer is yes.  I enjoy the process and never-ending desire to learn, and I could easily see myself going into a PhD program after my undergraduate experience.  Aside from research, I find the field of education to be very interesting, pushing me in the direction of pursuing a career in academia.  Although while I am interested in education, I don’t think I would like a career solely researching engineering education, but I would love to teach and use the skills I’ve learned so far to research areas in materials science.

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