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Session 20 - Research Experiences for Undergraduates.
Oral session, Monday, June 10
Old Madison,

[20.02] The Effectiveness of the AAS REU Program

M. K. Hemenway, P. B. Boyce, R. W. Milkey (AAS)

In an attempt to address the particular needs of astronomy faculty and undergraduate students, in 1991 the Education Office of the American Astronomical Society approached the National Science Foundation with a unique proposal for funding through the Research Experiences for Undergraduates program. The goals of the AAS program were to "slow the hemorrhage of students out of science...", extend the REU program to non-NSF-funded scientists, to reach under-represented women and minority students particularly in small educational institutions, and to encourage research scientists there to mentor students. As this grant has now expired, the AAS has surveyed the 44 mentors and their students to assess the program's effect on the mentor and the mentor's career; the educational institution; and the student's education and career choices.

More than half the mentors responded by the abstract deadline. The program clearly had an effect upon the individuals involved. The greatest effect (in 85% of the cases) was to develop more interest in the mentor's research project both among the students and among the mentor's faculty colleagues. The mentors rated the grant to be a medium or strong factor in their student's decision to pursue graduate study, which 90% of them did.

All but one of the AAS-REU students attended an AAS meeting and 3/4 of those gave a paper on their project research. Over 90% of the mentors felt that the research experience strongly promoted a greater interest in science, a greater understanding of science and a desire to continue in science. According to the mentors, this was a very positive and beneficial program for the students as well as for themselves.

Program listing for Monday