The goal of the Program Evaluation and Education Research (PEER) Internship Program for Undergraduate Students is to broaden undergraduate access to educational research and evaluation while supporting the development of students’ transferable skills and creating a pathway for future researchers, particularly for underrepresented groups. Additionally, the program seeks to enhance operations within the Friday Institute PEER Group. Findings revealed that interns gained an understanding of the environment and expectations of educational research, strengthened their transferable skills, and the PEER Internship program proved to be a cost-effective and sustainable option for enhancing PEER group operations.
Year 2 Evaluation Findings
- How, and to what extent, did the PEER internship program expose interns to the environment and expectations of educational research and evaluation?
Interns clarified and refined their understanding of educational research and evaluation through the practical application of relevant research and evaluation tasks. As interns contributed to real-world projects, they gained confidence in performing research and evaluation tasks.
- How, and to what extent, did the PEER internship program develop interns’ transferable workforce skills?
All interns reported increased capacity with their technical and soft skills. Interns’ most significant perceived technical skills growth areas included the Boolean search method for literature reviews, cleaning data, data analysis, and written communication. The majority of interns showed effort and competence while producing outstanding work.
- How, and to what extent, did the PEER internship program enhance PEER Group operations?
Assigning entry-level research tasks to interns enabled PEER Group members to concentrate on more challenging aspects of research projects. As interns gain more time and experience in the program, they are able to manage increasingly difficult tasks. The internship program is a cost-effective, sustainable pathway for preparing future educational researchers and evaluators from diverse backgrounds.
Develop a framework for holding PEER interns accountable. This includes creating protocols for interns to communicate challenges they may be facing and having stop-out procedures in place for interns that need to exit the program.
Establish an efficient system for assigning tasks that includes a weekly meeting schedule. Undergraduates expressed a need for clearly established deadlines for completing tasks. Additionally, weekly meetings would give interns an opportunity to check-in, ask questions, and strengthen relationships with one another.
Incorporate opportunities for partnership, mentorship, and collaboration. Including more voices and perspectives from within the PEER Group and the Friday Institute can help improve program design and impact. Moreover, all interns expressed a desire for more collaboration.
Maximize recruitment efforts and provide explicit internship expectations. It is essential to ensure interns are aware of the duties associated with the internship and are motivated to participate in the experience. Strengthening the recruitment process can ensure a good fit between the program and interns.