Common Research Questions

Every proposed evaluation should start with a conceptual model to which the design is applied. This conceptual model can be used both to make sure that a common understanding about the project’s structure, connections, and expected outcomes exists, and to assist in focusing the evaluation design on the most critical program elements. The development of evaluation questions builds on the logic model and consists of several steps:

  • Identifying key stakeholders and audiences
  • Formulating potential evaluation questions of interest to the stakeholders and audiences
  • Defining outcomes in measurable terms
  • Prioritizing and eliminating questions

Based upon the Recommended Indicators, the following questions apply to all CISE REU sites. Additional questions are provided as suggestions.

Site administration and program satisfaction

  • How satisfied with the REU program are the participants?
  • Are there any notable differences and similarities among participants’ satisfaction levels?
  • Are there any distinctions based on gender and ethnicity in satisfaction levels?
  • What are the program strengths?
  • What improvements need to be made?

Individual student development

  • Do students improve their research and academic skills?
  • What is the nature of the gains?
  • Does faculty assessment of student preparation and skill development match student reports?
  • Are students more committed to graduate school after the REU?
  • Are students more interested in research, particularly CISE areas, as a result of the REU?
  • Do students report increased self-efficacy in computing and research skills after the REU?

Research initiatives and outcomes

  • What research project developments were made during the REU?
  • What new products were developed (i.e. new software application, website, etc.)?
  • How many papers were submitted? published?
  • What research collaborations were established between students and faculty?

[This section is an adaptation from the NSF User-Friendly Handbook for Project Evaluation [pdf] and Assessing Campus Diversity Initiatives (see References, Garcia, et al.).]