This award will support a workshop for managers of sites that provide research experiences for undergraduates (REU) in Geosciences. The goals of the workshop include sharing of best practices and challenges of running REU sites; and identification of tools needed for effective communication, recruitment, and evaluation. During the workshop, there will be opportunities for un-structure conversations (e.g. poster sessions and round tables), break-out group discussions on selected topics, and listening to invited keynote speakers. Summaries of the discussions will be captured and archived electronically. In addition, a GEO REU website will be set up to capture REU managers' ideas and expectations for the workshop. The organizers of the workshop will learn about the effectiveness of the meeting through an online form that will be filled by the workshop attendees. The workshop is being lead by the UANVCO's Director of RESESS (Research Experiences in Solid Earth Science for Students) and an organizing committee constituted of REU PIs. The meeting will be held in San Jose, CA, October 26-27, 2011. The selection of the location and timing of the workshop were done to coincide with the National SACNAS Conference; where REU managers will have the opportunity of interacting with students and mentors, expanding their network for recruiting participants to their REU sites.

Project Report

Introduction Research shows that research experiences for undergraduates are key to engagement of students in science, helping students to gain practice in professional skills, think like a scientist, and take interest in graduate school (Seymour et al., 2003, and summaries in Taraban and Blanton, 2008; Boyd and Wesemann, 2009; Lopatto, 2010). Nonetheless, undergraduate research is a time and resource intensive activity for faculty, universities, and sponsors. Leaders of Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) funded by the National Science Foundation and other agencies are spread out across the nation and work to some extent in isolation from each other. There has been a need and desire to develop a community amongst REU leaders for the purposes of leveraging knowledge about best practices to other REU sites, developing collaborative efforts, and providing support to each other. The mission of this workshop was to bring REU leaders together face-to-face to discuss these issues, and develop community in person. A secondary goal was to connect the REU community with the SACNAS (Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans) community by co-locating the REU workshop with the Annual SACNAS meeting, and to encourage participation in that conference. Leaders and staff from 67 GEO REU sites from across the United States and Puerto Rico were invited to the workshop. We pursued representation by each REU through persistent contact with invitees, and searching for alternative participants when the invited REU leader could not attend. The end result was that 57 of the 67 (85%) invited NSF REU internship programs were represented at the workshop. The breakdown of NSF-GEO Division affiliations of those programs was as follows: 57 of invited 67 GEO REU leaders were represented (85%), including: 17 from AGS 18 from EAR 21 from OCE 1 from OEDG 65 leaders from those REUs and 10 from other agencies participated A central webpage was developed was used for providing information to participants about the workshop background, goals, and logistics. Concluding Recommendations This workshop provided a unique opportunity for REU leaders to come together and discuss challenges identified before the meeting as important to community members, as well as to gain support from each other through sharing experiences and strategies. The overall feedback on the workshop indicates that it was perceived as much needed and highly valuable, and there were requests to hold a similar meeting every other year. Coming out of the discussions were six recommendations for the REU community and funders, which are presented roughly in order of priority, as indicated on the post-workshop survey: To create a communication mechanism, such as an REU listserv, for the purposes of building community, planning events, sharing information, and developing collaborations amongst REU site PIs and staff. To organize REU gatherings at the major conferences representing each Division. To develop a leadership committee that would help to organize the REU community and take leadership on relevant issues, including plans for communication and networking. To consider creating a webpage for REU PIs and students, including a plan for website updating and maintenance. To hold a biannual meeting for REU PIs, if possible, and hold the meeting in co-location with a meeting of a minority-science organization, for example. To assign the leadership committee with the task of providing the community with more information on the REU web application portal (common application) and follow up with action items. It should be noted that in the year since the GEO REU Workshop, some of these recommendations have been acted on: A listserv for the community has been established and used effectively for sharing information, requesting information for NSF, and discussing challenging issues. REU gatherings have been organized and held at the following meetings: AGU 2011, AMS 2012, and ASLO 2012. Informal REU gatherings are being planned for upcoming conferences in 2012 and 2013. The next step forward in furthering REU community development is to formalize a leadership committee, which would involve finding volunteers and a chair. This group could meet by telephone quarterly and discuss topics such as developing a website for REU sites and students, to look into planning a 2nd GEO REU Workshop for 2013 or 2014, and organizing the dissemination of information on an REU web portal with a common application and discussions on that topic. This leadership committee could serve as the liaison between REU PIs and NSF and focus their initial efforts on discussing funding possibilities for the workshop, website, and portal. The National Science Foundation could support the leadership committee through providing resources such as a teleconference system and funds for meeting in person at a large conference.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Earth Sciences (EAR)
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Lina Patino
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Unavco, Inc.
United States
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