Date of Award

January 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning

First Advisor

Myrna Olson


This mixed methods study was designed to investigate student knowledge and attitudes concerning university intellectual property (IP) ownership, and the reaction of campus IP experts to the student perspective. Study participants included 226 students from a Midwestern research university and three employees with IP commercialization experience from that same university. A paper questionnaire was completed by students and the survey results were used to construct questions for semi-structured interviews with the campus IP professionals.

The student survey included demographic questions, Likert-type questions, and open-ended questions. The Likert-type questions were organized into three constructs: Student Knowledge, Student Fears, and Student Attitudes. Survey results showed that students had low levels of campus IP policy and IP commercialization knowledge. Students also indicated that they worried about the university potentially owning their ideas or projects with commercial value.

Qualitative data from the recorded, transcribed interviews was coded, categorized, and themed. Thirteen codes were organized into three categories: Communication Inadequacies, Student IP Disconnects, and IP Culture on Campus. Three qualitative data themes were defined, leading to a discovery assertion: Inadequacies in communicating IP policy and processes to students perpetuates misunderstandings between students and Technology Transfer Office intentions, impeding the development of a more transparent and productive student IP culture on campus.

Final recommendations included more robust and proactive IP policy and IP commercialization communication activities, and an expanded IP-related training program for faculty. Several suggestions concerning new lines of student IP and IP commercialization research inquiry were also presented.