Implementation and Assessment of Undergraduate Experiences in SOAP: An Atmospheric Science Research and Education Program Academic Article uri icon


  • The Student Operational Aggie Doppler Radar Project (SOAP) involved 95 undergraduates in a research and education program to better understand the climatology of storms in southeast Texas from 2006-2010. This paper describes the structure, components, and implementation of the 1-credit-hour research course, comparing first-year participants' experiences and career outcomes with students who were engaged in SOAP for multiple years. Groups of five or six students, led by a senior-level undergraduate and mentored by a graduate student and faculty advisor, performed several daily research tasks, including producing precipitation forecasts, archiving observations, and operating and analyzing data from an S-band Doppler radar for precipitation events on their assigned day. Anonymous surveys given to SOAP students at the end of each semester indicated that student confidence in performing most SOAP tasks exhibited statistically significant positive correlations with their interest and experience in doing them. In addition, students participating in SOAP for multiple years were significantly more confident in performing program tasks than single-year participants (with correlations increasing an average of 19%) and were more likely to obtain meteorology or science-related employment upon graduation (94% versus 69%). First-year participants were significantly more likely to indicate that their interactions with undergraduate student leaders or peers were most beneficial, whereas interactions with the faculty advisor or graduate student mentors were equally or more important to returning students. Students were also more likely to consider research careers and matriculate to graduate programs as they participated longer in SOAP, suggesting research and education programs have a strong influence on students' career outcomes in addition to fostering positive self-efficacy. 2013 National Association of Geoscience Teachers.

published proceedings

  • Journal of Geoscience Education

author list (cited authors)

  • Hopper, L. J., Schumacher, C., & Stachnik, J. P.

citation count

  • 6

complete list of authors

  • Hopper, Larry J||Schumacher, Courtney||Stachnik, Justin P

publication date

  • January 2013