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Remote Research Experiences for Undergraduates

The COVID-19 pandemic undermined national capacity to offer onsite Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Sites. Due to the rapid onset of the pandemic, REU principal investigators (PIs) were caught largely unprepared to deliver REU learning through distance technologies, and they made substantial changes to their programs to engage students in research at a distance. This project systematically characterized how REU programs were carried out during summer 2020 and evaluated their effectiveness, especially the extent to which remote REU programs were able to build a sense of community among their student cohorts, ensure student ownership of their research projects, provide quality mentorship, and influence students’ education and career interests. Data were compared across REU sites and with published studies of in-person REU sites to identify strategies useful for improving student learning in distance REUs. Read results of this project here:

  • Hess, R. A., Erickson, O. A., Cole, R. B., Isaacs, J. M., Alvarez-Clare, S., Arnold, J., ... & Dolan, E. L. (2023). Virtually the same? Evaluating the effectiveness of remote undergraduate research experiences. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 22(2), ar25. 
  • Erickson, O. A., Cole, R. B., Isaacs, J. M., Alvarez-Clare, S., Arnold, J., Augustus-Wallace, A., ... & Dolan, E. L. (2022). “How do we do this at a distance?!” A descriptive study of remote undergraduate research programs during COVID-19. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 21(1), ar1. 


This project was supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 2030530, entitled RAPID: Optimizing distance learning programs to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on REU sites in biology. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.