Fall Nebraska Discipline-Based Engineering Education Research Program

Contact - Grace Panther
Department - Architectural Engineering - Biological Systems Engineering - Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering - Civil & Environmental Engineering - Construction Engineering - Construction Management - Electrical & Computer Engineering - Mechanical & Materials Engineering
Students Needed:
• Undergraduate
• Undergraduate Research Program Opportunities
Faculty in discipline-based education research (DBER) in engineering seek undergraduate researchers to join a 12-week program that introduces students to research in engineering education and builds research skills appropriate for any engineering field. DBER in engineering encompasses the study of the teaching and learning of our youngest engineering hopefuls to the practices and wisdom of our retiring engineers and all students and practitioners in between. The body of research that is generated provides the evidence for local, national, and global change in how we educate students. For more information on DBER click here.

Participants in the 10-week program will each have their own assigned project culminating in a research poster presentation (for examples, see Current and Past Students) .

Learning opportunities include but are not limited to:
  • Data analysis to expand skills with Excel and other research tools
  • Literature review and reading to become more familiar with library resources and research in engineering education
  • Research poster construction and manuscript writing to gain experience with research dissemination
  • Other professional development opportunities will be available based on participant’s needs and interests.
Participants must be available to work a minimum of 10 hours each week (Fall 2021: September 27 - December 3). Work will be conducted remotely with twice-weekly meetings with the overall DBER team and the supervising faculty member. Successful students may be invited to continue with their undergraduate research after the 10-week period.


  • Must be an undergraduate student in at least the second year of study at UNL
  • All engineering majors considered.
  • Must be self-motivated, dependable, and capable of working independently as well as on a team.
  • Willing to learn new skills.

Active Projects:

Shedding Light on Instructor Adaptability and Course Complexity for Sustained Change

Advisors: Heidi Diefes-Dux and Grace Panther
COVID-19 changed how many university instructors delivered course instruction. This provides an opportunity to investigate and document the effects of COVID-19 on instructors teaching practices and sustained use of a wide array of teaching practices and strategies relative to instructors' adaptability and course complexity. Two research questions guide the project: 1) How does course complexity, as indicated by the array of teaching practices and strategies and their associated challenge to implement, change during migration to a new normal following a forced change? 2) What supports and barriers exist for instructors of differing adaptability given the courses that they teach?

Transfer between Engineering School and Work

Advisor: Logan Perry
The transition between engineering school and work is a critical transition for most students. The space between academia and industry is under-researched and ripe with opportunities for improvement. This project presents an opportunity to better understand how students transfer their learning from their capstone course into their careers post-graduation. The research question to be addressed is: what factors promote or impede the transfer of learning between capstone and work during the first year of employment?

Spatial Visualization Skills and Engineering Problem Solving

Advisor: Grace Panther
Spatial skills have been linked to success in STEM degree attainment. Spatial skills have also shown some correlation to successful problem solving. This study investigates the links between spatial skills and problem solving by using several spatial measures and engineering problems while collecting eye tracking data and perceived stress. Two research questions guide the project: 1) In what ways do low and high spatial visualizers differ when solving engineering problems? 2) Do stress levels between high and low visualizers differ when solving engineering problems?

Compensation: $12/hour

How to apply?

How To Apply? Deadline for Fall 2021 applications is September 27, 2021. Email cover letter including interest in engineering education research, resume, unofficial transcript (generated in MyRED) to Dr. Grace Panther.