About the BER REU
The Bioengineering Education Research REU program is a rich summer experience for undergraduates from diverse backgrounds that will increase student knowledge of biomedical engineering, educational theory, pedagogical design, technical communications and medical ethics. The Bioengineering Education Research Site REU is a new program with a long history.
The VaNTH (an acronym for the partners: Vanderbilt, Northwestern, Texas at Austin, and the Harvard-MIT HST program) Engineering Research Center was an 8-year-long interdisciplinary multi-site NSF research center, funded from 2000-2007. The VaNTH ERC remains the only ERC to date dedicated to research in engineering education. Its mission was to apply the principles of challenge-based learning, whose value had been confirmed in research with elementary-school students, to the engineering college classroom. One of the ways it sought to bring these principles to bear was through their application in web-delivered courseware. Because no existing commercial product allowed the required flexibility and intelligence for challenge-based learning, VaNTH developed a sophisticated proprietary courseware development and delivery platform, known as CAPE-eLMS. Assessment of the educational results of these interventions was also a core element of the mission. Today, having graduated from the ERC program, the VaNTH partners continue this work on a smaller collaborative scale.
Associated with the ERC for each of its funded years was a robust REU program, spanning all four sites. The REU provided a unique opportunity for students to engage in research and development of educational materials, learning simultaneously about the subject topic and pedagogy. Integrated with the project work was instruction in technical communications and ethics.
Beginning in summer 2010, the VaNTH partner institutions have been awarded an independent Site REU program to continue this important element of the work. The Bioengineering Education Research Site REU, while new, is thus the heir to and an extension of an ongoing research program and community. The mission remains the same: improving STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education generally, with a particular emphasis on undergraduate engineering and especially biomedical engineering, through the application and assessment of the latest learning science and learning technology.