Evaluating a student’s research duties and project output is an important part of research and mentorship. While UROP students should not be held to the same standards as a graduate student or postdoc, the goal of UROP is for them to learn how to do research properly, and evaluation can be useful in accomplishing this goal.
Overall, it is important to make the expectations and metrics of success clear from the start. This can be done by having a UROP agreement that you go over with the student at the start of their UROP. The expectations for both research outputs and routines (safety, documentation, etc) should be included when considering the evaluation of a student.
This is especially important for credit-bearing, graded UROPs. A great way to do this is through a rubric that goes from A, B, C, D, F. This rubric should be based on both the goals of the project, but also the day to day routines and documentation.
Sample evaluation/grading rubric for a credit UROP
Example starter rubric for (assuming biology/other lab/bench-science UROP
- A-level Work: Clean, up-to-date lab notebook without missing entries that documents each experiment; Great setup of experiment, following all safety protocols; Great job reading, finding papers and summarizing them; Great conduct of experiment, following all safety protocols; Great cleanup of experiment and surrounding space.
- B-level Work: Some experiments missing from lab notebook; Good setup of experiment, maybe missed one or two accuracies or a messier set up; Good job reading and finding papers, some missing summaries or didn’t read all papers; Good conduct of experiment, following all safety protocols, but some adjustments needed; Good cleanup of experiment space.
- C-level Work: Many experiments missing from lab notebook; Acceptable set up, but needed frequent correction; Did not read many of the papers assigned; Acceptable experimental conduct, but adjustments needed for safety; Some adjustments needed for clean-up protocols.
- D-level Work: Almost blank lab notebook; Unacceptable or unsafe experiment setup; Read almost no papers; Unacceptable or unsafe experimental conduct; Unacceptable or unsafe cleanup.
- F-level Work: No lab notebook; No experimental setup attempted; Read no papers; experiments not completed; No cleanup.
Sample topics for end-of-term/project evaluation discussion
We encourage students and mentors to meet at the end of each UROP to share feedback on the semester/summer and plan for successful future terms.
Questions to help guide evaluation conversations
- Did the UROP meet your expectations (both from the student’s perspective and yours)? If not, why not and how might you improve the experience moving forward?
- What could you both have done differently to make this experience better/more enjoyable?
- What skills did the student develop/enhance from this UROP?
- What accomplishments resulted from this UROP?
- Did the student receive sufficient guidance/feedback from you? If not, what would have helped them more?
- If the UROP is continuing, what are your plans for the next semester?
Formally evaluating students for the UROP Office
As a UROP supervisor, you are asked to assess your UROP students at the end of each term.
We want you to tell us about their contributions to your research group, and what their work habits were like.
We want to hear about your “star performers” – their accomplishments, inventions, published papers, presentations, etc. We also want to hear about any problems, situations or frustrations you had.
Your comments help us follow the progress of the UROP program as a whole, and assist us in identifying the students best suited to represent MIT and UROP in public presentations to parents, alumni, and prospective students. It is very important that you take the time to give your UROP students regular feedback about their performance.
We prefer comments to be submitted via the online UROP system. See the Evaluations section of the Online UROP System Instructions for complete details. Evaluations are also accepted via email to email@example.com. If one of your graduate students, post-docs, or other researchers worked more closely with your UROP student(s), we will accept their evaluation on your behalf, provided that they “cc” you on the evaluation submitted.
Resources & Support
When in doubt, or you need advice about your interactions with UROPs, please feel free to contact UROP Staff (firstname.lastname@example.org).
For additional advice on teaching and learning, consult staff in the MIT Teaching and Learning Lab (email@example.com) or visit the TLL site (tll.mit.edu) for resources and information.