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Title: Challenges and outcomes in remote undergraduate research programs during the COVID-19 pandemic
In the Summer of 2020, as COVID-19 limited in-person research opportunities and created additional barriers for many students, institutions either canceled or remotely hosted their Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) programs. The present qualitative phenomenographic study was designed to explore some of the possible limitations, challenges, and outcomes of this remote experience. Overall, 94 interviews were conducted with paired participants; mentees (N=10) and mentors (N=8) from six different REU programs. By drawing on Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) as a framework, our study uncovers some of the challenges mentees faced while pursuing their research objectives and academic goals. These challenges included motivation, limited access to technology at home, limited communication among REU students, barriers in mentor-mentee relationships, and differing expectations about doing research. Despite the challenges, all mentees reported that this experience was highly beneficial. Comparisons between the outcomes of these remote REUs and published outcomes of in-person undergraduate research programs reveal many similar benefits, including student integration into STEM culture. Our study suggests that remote research programs could be considered as a means to expand access to undergraduate research experiences even after COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted.  more » « less
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National Science Foundation
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    Availability and implementation

    More information and resources are available on the project web site

    Supplementary information

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