Brandi Geisinger serves as the lead evaluator for the NSF Interdisciplinary Research Experience in Hyperspectral Imaging (IDREHSI) Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program at the University of Northern Iowa. The IDREHSI REU is an eight-week research program with a focus on field and lab-based hyperspectral imaging applications where students are engaged in faculty-directed collaborative interdisciplinary research projects and team-based problem solving activities. Participants gain professional (technical skills and scientific training) and personal experiences that are particularly valuable for young scientists. The IDRESHI builds on a well-established collaborative interdisciplinary hyperspectral imaging group on campus, availability of large volumes of hyperspectral imagery, and accessibility of state-of-the art hyperspectral equipment.
Annual evaluation of the REU program includes pre- and post-program surveys and focus groups. Mentors of REU students were additionally invited to complete a survey about their experiences with the program and working with an REU student. The evaluation of the program has been informed by other studies of REU students and outcomes, as well as best practices for evaluation (Bauer & Bennett 2003; Brew 2003; Cobb 1994; Eagan et al. 2011; Gonzalez-Espada & LaDue 2006; Haen et al. 2012; Handelsman et al. 2005; Hathaway et al. 2002; Lopatto 2004; Lopatto 2007; Pascarella & Terenzini 2005; Russell 2004; Russell et al. 2007; Sadler et al. 2010; Seymour et al. 2004; Zydney et al. 2002). Impacts of the evaluation include gaining an understanding of the value of the IDREHSI REU program in preparing undergraduate students to attend graduate school in related fields, and supporting and encouraging data collection activities that demonstrate the impact of the program and provide guidance for program improvement.