Chronicle of Mentoring an Undergraduate Researcher

in Project Management Phases

 

Mentor: L. Roger Yin, Ph.D., ITBE Dept.

Undergraduate Researcher: Nicholas Baldwin, BBA (May, 2012)

 

Executive Summary

Undergraduate Research (UR) is one of the key High-impact Practices (HIPs) endorsed by LEAP (Liberal Education and America's Promise) initiative. A successful UR project requires the undergraduate researcher and the faculty mentor work closely together for a relatively long period time. Such a research apprenticeship – both cognitive and behavioral – demands constant progress reviews from both mentor and mentee so it stays “on-time, on-schedule”. To aid interested faculty members and student researchers alike, this chronicle provides a big-picture road map and timetable by adopting phases of project management methodology. We hope the mutually beneficial experiences that not only create new knowledge but also foster lifelong learning via undergraduate research projects can be had by many faculty members and prospective student researchers.

 

The Five Phases of Managing an Undergraduate Research Project Include:

  1. Initiating
  2. Planning
  3. Executing
  4. Monitoring and Controlling
  5. Closing

 

Initiation

Spring 2011 – Nicholas Baldwin, a sophomore who just decided on pursuing Information Technology as the major of study, took the ITBE 221 – Information Technology Infrastructure course with me. One day right around midway through the semester, Nick stopped by during my office hours and expressed his strong interest in security issues in increasingly complex computer network systems. I started to work with Nick and encourage him to consider applying for the Undergraduate Research grant. It is worth mentioning that Nick's performance in that course showed improvement and participated in class and D2L discussions more ever since he found a focus in his study.

 

Planning

Summer 2011 – Nick and I were in touch during the summer to exchange ideas on a research topic of mutual interest. We agreed on looking into the potential risks of scanning quick response (QR) codes with mobile phones.

 

Executing

September 2011 - Nick applied for UR grant after deciding the topic. (http://www.uww.edu/urp)

October 2011 – Nick prepared the survey instrument and applied for IRB approval. (http://uwworsp.org/Compliance/Research-with-Human-Subjects.aspx)

November 2011 – IRB approved the research instrument.

December 2011 – Nick applied for NCUR presentation. (www.ncur.org)

January 2012 – Nick began randomly asking students to fill out the survey questionnaire.

February 2012 – Nick received the acceptance to present at NCUR 2012.

March 2012 – Nick prepared a poster of his study and presented at UWW Undergraduate Research Day. (http://www.uww.edu/urp/poster-guidelines)

April 2012 – Nick presented his study on a poster he prepared at NCUR 2012 in Weber State University, Utah. The presentation was well received. Many gave Nick comments and feedback on improving the study.

 

Monitoring and Controlling

May-December 2012 – Based on the comments and feedback from people reviewing the work-in-progress, Nick and I continue to work on expanding the literature review and refining the problem statement.

January-February 2013 – The survey questionnaire was administered in both Whitewater, WI and Macau. Data analysis was performed and the results were written as part of a full paper and submitted to International Conference on E-Business Technology and Strategy (iCETS 2013) in Macau for review. Nick, myself, and Mitchum Senior who contributed through his Research Apprenticeship Program (RAP) with me are listed as co-authors.

 

Closing

March 2013 – The key accomplishment as a deliverable is that Nicholas Baldwin and I as co-authors of the paper titled, "Perceived Security Risks of Using Quick Response (QR) Codes in Mobile Computing with Smart Phones" that have been accepted for a presentation at the iCETS 2013 : 2013 International Conference on E-Business Technology and Strategy in later June, 2013 in Macau. The best papers may been accepted to be published via SCI listed journals.

It has been a long journey, but both Nick and I feel it's worth the time and effort. I will continue mentoring UR students as the experience makes me a better teacher and scholar.

P.S., Nicholas Baldwin has accepted an offer to work as an Associate Systems Administration with Kroll OnTrack, a top data recovery and information security firm in the U.S. He is planning to apply for graduate schools soon. Good luck to you, Nick!

 


If you would like to comment on this document, please send to YINL@UWW.EDU.