Lessons Learned on Interventions Program

Presentations on three currently funded intervention projects given at the National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council, January 24-25, 2008

Efficacy of Educational Enrichment Activities: a Mixed Methods Approach

Dr. Merna Villarejo of the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) described a currently funded project that examines whether undergraduate science enrichment activities prepare and encourage targeted minority students to pursue biology-based professions, in general, and doctoral-level research careers in particular. Participants in the UC Davis Biology Undergraduate Scholars Program were much more likely than non-participant minority students—and more likely than the white/Asian student majority—to graduate with biology degrees, and biology degrees with high GPAs, thus ensuring that they are academically prepared to pursue careers in biomedical science.

PowerPoint Presentation (Accessible HTML Version) - links no longer available

Contact: Dr. Merna Villarejo, mrvillarejo@ucdavis.edu

Promoting Diversity: Access and Engagement in Biomedical and Behavioral Research Careers
Dr. Sylvia Hurtado of the University of California, Los Angeles, presented results from the “Promoting Diversity: Access and Engagement in Biomedical and Behavioral Research Careers” project that analyzes the efficacy of interventions to increase the pool of biomedical and behavioral research scientists. The data revealed that aspiring students entering biomedical fields in college has increased and become slightly more diverse over the last 30 years. However, a longitudinal study of the 2004 cohort highlights continuing obstacles. The availability of structured opportunity programs early in a student’s career markedly affects the probability of that student’s involvement in research. Further investigation will follow the cohort through graduation to understand scientific career access, engagement, and retention. For more information, visit the Higher Education Research Institute online. 

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Contact: Dr. Sylvia Hurtado, shurtado@gseis.ucla.edu

Assessing Scientific Inquiry and Leadership Skills

The currently funded “Assessing Scientific Inquiry and Leadership Skills” project studies research-immersion interventions that impact student performance outcomes and long-term commitment to biomedical research careers. Dr. Martin Chemers of the University of California, Santa Cruz, described psychological mediators such as: i) “science inquiry self-efficacy:” a student’s belief about his or her ability to perform scientific work successfully; and ii) “identity as a scientist:” a student’s sense that the role of a scientist is compatible with his or her own personal identity. Authentic research experiences and positive mentoring experiences are strong predictors of the psychological variables that are, in turn, strong predictors of performance outcomes.

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Contact: Dr. Mart​in Chemers, mchemers@ucsc.edu

For additional information about the Research on Interventions program, see http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Training/pages/interventions.aspx.